Dangerous currents workshops scheduled for early June

As deaths increase on Lake Michigan due to drowning by dangerous currents, three workshops are scheduled to help communities save lives of beachgoers.

Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the National Weather Service will be coordinating a series of Dangerous Currents Workshops in three different locations in Michigan the first week of June. The goal of the workshops is to increase knowledge about dangerous currents by educating local, state and federal parks personnel, emergency responders, volunteers, researchers, educators and others about Great Lakes beach hazards. Another objective is to increase collaboration between those interested in water safety. Ultimately, providing knowledge and training about this issue will empower communities to be proactive in waterfront safety prevention and education and will help promote consistent water safety messages targeted to at-risk groups.

In 2012, there were nearly 100 deaths related to dangerous currents (87 in 2011; 74 in 2010), with about half of them occurring in Lake Michigan. The Lake Michigan shoreline has become the epicenter of drowning-related deaths in the Great Lakes region. Although beach signs, brochures, flag warning systems, weather forecasts and other public outreach methods have been implemented, initial research indicates a general lack of awareness about this public health issue. Additionally, irresponsible behavior (e.g., jumping off piers) among swimmers in regards to dangerous currents continues to be a factor in deaths.

Each workshop will address four main topic areas including:

  • life and death issues with personal stories of survivors,
  • beach hazards on the Great Lakes,
  • beach safety efforts and available forecasts, and
  • ongoing Great Lakes beach safety projects.

Workshops will run from 9 am to 4 pm each day. Workshops locations include:

Michigan Sea Grant will host each workshop and registration is required to attend. To register, visit the Dangerous Currents website

The Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program – MDEQ, provided financial assistance for these workshops through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Department of Commerce. The Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program partners with local governments, non-profit organizations and universities to promote wise management and prudent use of the cultural and natural resources within our coastal boundary.

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