Staying safe around water as summer approaches

As summer draws near and the temperatures begin to spike, more Michiganders will make their way toward the water. And although it’s nice to cool off in the waves, it’s important to remember, that fun, can turn deadly in a matter of seconds.

“It’s shaping up to be a very hot summer and unfortunately that means that we’ll have an increase in the number of drownings,” says Bob Pratt, Director of Education at Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

Pratt says, more than 20 people in Michigan have died after drowning this year alone. Those numbers are being updated almost daily.

“The cold water plays a part, the wind and waves cause a part, so unfortunately it turns out to be a tragic situation,” says Pratt.

Pratt says, drowning is the lading cause of accidental deaths in children ranging in age from 1 to 4. And although it’s portrayed on television as a dramatic, long lasting incident, Pratt says, drowning can happen in the blink of an eye.

“While there may be a little bit of splashing, lifeguards call it climbing the ladder, it will be this vertical motion of just trying to keep their head above the surface of the water, and especially with children it may only last a matter of second,” says Pratt.

He says, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself and those around, while still having fun in the sun.

For example, you can designate a “water watcher,” who will keep an eye on children at all times while in the water. Also making sure everyone is wearing a life vest.

“Of the 562 fatal drownings that we’ve reported since 2010, only 5 of them were wearing life jackets… That’s less than 1%,” says Pratt.

It’s called a life jacket, for a reason. Pratt says, wearing one can decrease your risk of drowning. He says, it all boils down to this, respect the water and understand you need to be prepared for it.

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