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Coast Guard Advises Use Caution While At The Beach

Posted at 1:22 PM, Jul 19, 2013

800px-Gentle_waves_come_in_at_a_sandy_beach (1)MICHIGAN. — The Coast Guard is advising Lake Michigan residents and visitors to be cautious if swimming or recreating in or around the lake, as a strong cold front is expected over the weekend.

According the National Weather Service winds and waves are expected to increase considerably this afternoon and tonight. A beach hazards statement is in effect until Friday night for beaches from Manistee, Mich., to St. Joseph, Mich. Hazards include high wave action, strong currents, possible rip currents, and dangerous swimming conditions.

The Coast Guard recommends the following tips for swimmers:

Swim near a lifeguard — U.S. Lifesaving Association statistics during a 10-year period show that the chance of drowning at a beach without lifeguard protection is almost five times as great as drowning at a beach with lifeguards.

Never swim alone — Many drownings involve single swimmers. Learn water rescue techniques you can use if someone you are swimming with is in danger.

Don’t fight the current — If caught in a rip current, don’t fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, then swim to shore. Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring a swimmer to safety.

Swim sober — Alcohol is a major factor in drowning. Alcohol can reduce body temperature and impair swimming ability. Both alcohol and drugs impair good judgment, which may cause people to take risks they would not otherwise take.

Don’t float where you can’t swim — Non-swimmers and weak swimmers often use flotation devices, such as inflatable rafts, to go offshore. If they fall off, they can quickly drown. No one should use a flotation device unless they are also able to swim. The only exception is a person wearing an inherently buoyant Coast Guard approved Type I, II or III life jacket.

Prepare for the unexpected — Wear a life jacket while participating in any activity during which you could unexpectedly enter the water, such as when fishing from break walls or piers.

Avoid unnecessary risks — Walking along breakwalls is risky, because it only takes a momentary loss of footing to invite tragedy. Jumping from breakwalls, waterside structures, or into unfamiliar water is extremely dangerous since unseen underwater hazards may exist.