Safety on Lake Michigan even more important with high water levels

Posted at 4:05 PM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-25 17:11:13-04

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Before diving in, always pay attention to the flags and warning signs posted on the beach.

The red flags were flying on Tuesday, even under bright blue skies. They are placed out on the beach by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources after consulting with the forecasted waves and wind.

As always, it is best to think of the warning flags as a stop light. Green means you are good to go into the water without any issues. Yellow means you can still go out but be cautious of changing conditions and potentially cold water temperatures. Red means to stop and do not go in the water.

Lake Michigan water levels are sitting ever so close to an all-time high, meaning less beach and an increasing risk of rip currents.

If the churning lake still entices you to venture out into it, make sure people know where you will be and that you are close enough to them so they can here and see you at all times.

Rip currents can grab you and pull you in at any point on a day like Tuesday, but it is advised not to panic if it does happen.

Sgt. Eric Westveer with the Ottawa County Sheriffs Department says panicking only wastes energy you may eventually need when the rip current subsides.

Westveer says that if you are caught in a current, you should try to get on your back and ride the current out until you are able to get to the side of it and swim back to shore.

If you are on the beach and see someone struggling in the water, first thing to always do is call 911 before assisting any further. At several state parks in West Michigan, there are life rings on the beach and the pier that you can use to also help save someone trapped in the water.

The FOX 17 Meteorologists keep an up-to-date marine forecast here. It will give you an idea of what the wind, waves and potential hazards will be on the current day.