We can’t say it often enough, so I’m adding to the chorus: our Great Lakes are a tremendous recreational resource and anyone who lives here should make the most of them. But before stepping foot in the lakes, it’s important to be aware of the risk posed by rip currents. Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant have teamed up to lead an effort to alert people of the risks of rip currents and the remarkably straightforward way to respond if someone ever finds themselves being pulled away from shore by a current. Senior Extension and Sea Grant educator Ron Kinnunen posted a news item on the MSUE news in June, and it has been featured on our home page over the July 4 holiday and this week.
We lose too many people to rip currents every summer, and often they are young, healthy and strong. As strong as they may be, lack of knowledge about the risk of rip currents and the proper way to detect and avoid or swim out of them overwhelms their strength. The answer is simple: if you’re being pulled away from shore, simply swim parallel to shore and you’ll get yourself out of it. If you’re not sure you’re strong enough to swim out of the current, the best thing to do is just relax, let the current carry you a bit further out, and then as it dissipates farther from shore, you can swim to the side to escape the current.
Refer to the article to find out how to get out of a channel current, another dangerous current found in the Great Lakes.
Ron’s article is one that should be retweeted, “liked” and forwarded as much as possible. And if you do visit a Great Lakes beach this summer, there’s a good chance you’ll see signs and cautions about rip currents that MSUE and Michigan Sea Grant and our partners have posted in many locations.
Be sure to enjoy our lakes, and be sure you and everyone with you is aware of how to avoid or escape a rip current.