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Slight increase in Lake Michigan drownings in 2021

Lake Michigan
Posted at 8:12 PM, Jul 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-04 20:45:35-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich — Last year was the deadliest year on Lake Michigan with 56 drownings, and officials caution the number of drownings this year is already higher than last July 4th.

According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP), there's been an increase in drownings in Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes so far this year.

Sunday, the non-profit released the following data:

On July 4, 2020 there were a total of 25 Great Lakes drownings. To date in 2021 there have been 32 Great Lakes Drownings; an increase of 28%

On July 4, 2020, there were a total of 12 Lake Michigan drownings. To date in 2021 there have been 15 Lake Michigan drownings; an increase of 25%.

Dave Benjamin, the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, cautions that even experienced swimmers can find themselves in trouble in the water.

"What we want to consider is that we have a slight increase over last year, and last year was the deadliest year on Lake Michigan. And we don't want to have a repeat of that," he told FOX 17 News. "We want to get ahead of this as soon as we can.... we just want to make sure that everyone is conscious that when they go to Lake Michigan that they are extreme water safety advocates, they got their eyes on the water, they understand drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional injury related death. And that you know, we have water watchers, we know what a drowning looks like, we have a drowning survival strategy."

The following information was provided by the GLSRP:

On June 12, 2021, the GLSRP released its “Great Lakes Dangerous Currents & DROWNING Survival” explainer video

“This educational video is the first of its kind to explain how, where, and why dangerous currents occur on the Great Lakes,” said Dave Benjamin GLSRP executive director. “It also shows how to utilize the “Flip, Float, and Follow” drowning survival strategy in each dangerous current.”

“Drowning is a traumatic event,” Benjamin added. “And panic is the first stage of drowning.”

“It is not common sense to know and understand that panic is the first stage of drowning and how to overcome that panic.”

“It’s a drowning victim’s instinct to fight to survive, which only exhausts them into the vertical drowning posture. Once exhausted and in that drowning posture, the victim will submerge in less than 60 seconds.”

“We hope that this video, if viewed by the masses, will save countless lives on the Great Lakes.”

The GLSRP posted its Great Lakes Dangerous Currents explainer video on its YouTube channel here