SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — South Haven Area Emergency Services will start its annual program of flying safety flags at city beaches for the summer months this Saturday.
This year – in the wake of an increase in water-related emergencies a year ago – SHAES and the City of South Haven are implementing initiatives to better inform the public before heading to the beach, especially on red flag days, a news release said Tuesday.
The city’s IT staff has developed a text messaging system that will send alerts to mobile phones when flags are flying red.
“We want people to realize when the lake is too rough long before they arrive at our beaches,” SHAES Executive Director Brandon Hinz said. “Unfortunately, the lake in its fury is so inviting that many people upon arrival at the beaches tend to disregard the red flags, which are intended to signal they must stay out of the water. We hope this messaging system will cause folks to decide not to head to the beach.”
To subscribe to the free Beach Flag messaging system, send a text message with the word “Beaches” to 888777.
There is also a QR code available that brings individuals to the Beach Flag Status website.
Residents and guests don’t need to feel homebound on red flag days, however.
The city opened last year a family-oriented splash pad near South Beach.
Among the numerous playgrounds in the city is Kids Corner, which overlooks Lake Michigan.
The South Haven area has also become well known for its hiking and biking trails.
Flags are either green, yellow or red based on water conditions on a particular day.
“Our staff will be monitoring lake conditions more frequently than in the past,” Hinz said. “We encourage the public visiting our beaches to keep an eye on the flags, especially when the lake is wavy.”