HOLLAND, Mich. — New safety measures are coming to Holland State Park to prevent emergencies and drownings during dangerous wave conditions.
This past fall, park staff collaborated with Park Township and The King Company to fund the installation of a gate on the pier adjacent to Holland State Park, according to a news release Tuesday.
The goal is to help save lives by restricting access during harsh weather and to reduce the number of people jumping off the pier, while still allowing people to fish from the pier when feasible.
Officials say the gate will generally be closed in the winter, when red flags are flying and during night hours when the park is closed.
In addition, and electronic messaging board conveying beach conditions is now located where visitors enter Holland State Park, and a new public access system will be used to update beachgoers as beach warning flags are changed in response to weather conditions.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources urges everyone to keep water and pier safety in mind as the summer heats up and people begin flocking to Great Lakes beaches.
For example, these lakes are prone to dangerous currents that can threaten even the most experienced swimmer.
Adverse weather patterns can create dangerous rip and structural currents along piers and break walls, too.
Crashing waves can create slippery surfaces and conditions strong enough to knock a person into the water.
“The DNR eagerly welcomes millions of visitors to Michigan state parks each summer,” said Sean Mulligan, manager of Holland State Park. “Visitors should keep in mind that winds can come up quickly, changing conditions without warning, so always pay attention to the weather. The Great Lakes can become very dangerous, especially when waves get higher than four feet.”
Many emergencies and drownings happen on red flag days when the wind and waves are strong with greater potential for dangerous rip currents.
In particular, Grand Haven, Holland, Ludington and Mears state parks are located where rip currents tend to build, and recurring safety hazards are present.
Many Great Lakes state parks offer designated swimming areas that are identified by buoys and markers, a beach flag warning system and water depth less than five feet at the time of installation.
Water depth gets inspected every 14 days and underwater obstacles are posted or marked.
Green flags mean it’s safe to enter the water but still important to be aware of changing conditions.
When yellow flags are flying, beachgoers should watch for dangerous currents and high waves.
Red flags mean to not enter the water or swim.
There are no beach guards at state parks, so individuals should not swim alone, and children should be kept a close eye on.