It’s beach season once again in southern Lake Michigan, and the rip current warnings have already begun.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued at least one advisory since Illinois and Indiana beaches opened last month asking beach-goers to think twice before taking a dip in the lake. And for good reason. Rip currents and other dangerous currents are the biggest threat to Great Lakes swimmers. Roughly 140 people have drowned in the lakes over the last 12 years due at least in part to dangerous currents. And most of those incidents happened in Lake Michigan.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant hopes to bring these numbers down with a new outreach effort that will raise awareness about dangerous currents in the Great Lakes. The “Implementing Dangerous Currents Best Practices” project was recently awarded funding from the NOAA Coastal Storms Program.
A collaborative effort Sea Grant programs in Michigan and Wisconsin, the project will include print and online resources—including educational videos—that introduce the science behind rip currents, provide tips for avoiding them, and explain what to do if you or others are caught in one. Many of these resources will be available in both English and Spanish.
Watch for further information on these outreach efforts and rip currents in the coming months. In the meantime, you can find tips for staying safe at the beach this summer at dangerouscurrents.org.