Michigan Sea Grant schedules dangerous currents workshops for early June

As deaths increase on Lake Michigan due to drowning by dangerous currents, two workshops are scheduled to help address this issue.

Beach rescue station in Mackinac County, Michigan. Photo courtesy: Michigan Sea Grant

Beach rescue station in Mackinac County, Michigan. Photo courtesy: Michigan Sea Grant

Over the past 12 years, 138 Great Lakes swimmers have drowned in incidents related, in part, to rip currents and other dangerous nearshore currents. Half of these deaths occurred in Michigan. Michigan has been involved with this issue for more than 15 years. These dangerous currents are especially common along the eastern and northern shore of Lake Michigan.

Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division will be coordinating two Dangerous Currents Workshops in two different locations in Michigan the second 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 the public 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.

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 into dangerous currents continues to be a factor in deaths.

Workshops will run from 1 pm to 3:30 pm each day. There is no registration or fee required to attend. Workshops locations include:

Each workshop will address five main topic areas including:

  • Incident Reports for Dangerous Currents,
  • Types of Dangerous Currents with emphasis on Rip and Structural Currents,
  • Forecasting Dangerous Currents,
  • Recent Field Research on Rip and Structural Currents, and
  • Rescue Stations and Equipment.

For additional information on the workshops, contact Mike Evanoff (Michigan Department of Natural Resources) at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Ron Kinnunen (Michigan Sea Grant) at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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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