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Double red flags added to Great Lakes beach warning system

Double Red Flags.jpeg
Posted at 10:57 AM, May 23, 2023

LANSING, Mich. — Double red flags are now flying above Lake Michigan beaches amid fluctuating conditions along the shoreline.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says the double red flags were added to the flag warning system along the Great Lakes last year as a necessary change.

"We actively reevaluate our safety measures and public education efforts, especially when it comes to Great Lakes safety," says DNR Parks & Recreation Chief Ron Olson. "Many people underestimate the power of the Great Lakes and don't always understand how quickly even the most experienced swimmer can get into a life-threatening situation and swept away. That’s why the DNR is committed to making beach safety and public education a top priority."

Citing data from the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, the DNR says 1,170 drownings have occurred in the Great Lakes since 2010. More than 100 drownings happened last year.

The public is not permitted to enter the water when double red flags are posted, but visitors may still enjoy the beach unless instructed otherwise.

The state’s updated flag warning system are as follows, according to the DNR:

Double red flag – Dangerous conditions. Stay out of the water.
Red flag – High water hazard from strong currents and/or high surf. Stay on the beach.
Yellow flag – Moderate water conditions. Exercise caution.
Green flag – Low water hazard. Exercise caution.

The DNR advises against swimming alone when no lifeguards are present, and keep an eye on your children. Bring life jackets approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and be extra cautious near break walls, piers and outlets. Check the weather forecast before heading to the beach.

Visit the DNR’s webpage for more beach safety tips.

READ MORE: Water Safety Week: Flags, rip currents, and changes at the beach

READ MORE: South Haven sets up life jacket loaner stations

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