The icy waters of Lake Superior may have discouraged most swimmers from venturing too far for now. However, as the mercury rises, beaches along the Great Lakes will become increasingly popular destinations. According to Marquette City Fire Chief Tom Belt, some of those popular destinations can get you in trouble.
"Starting at the north part of town in Presque isle and middle bay, there are two very distinct rip currents in that area. We have them marked with buoys and we really encourage people not to go in those areas. Those rip currents can be very strong. Moving south from there, the next area of danger is picnic rocks and we've had many drownings there," he said.
Even expert swimmers can easily be pulled into deeper waters and can be overcome by the rapid succession of waves, especially if waves are three feet and higher. Man-made structures can also create a swim hazard.
Keith Cooley is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Negaunee. He keeps a close eye on potential swim hazards every day. "Anything like a peer sticking out of the water has all kinds of currents sloshing around and waves are going in all directions. And it's like a washing machine basically. So our best advice is to just not swim near those things," he said.
Your best bet according to local officials is to swim at guarded beaches like South Beach, McCarty's Cove and Tourist Park. That way, if you do get in trouble, there is usually someone there to offer a quick response.
Good situational awareness is crucial to keeping yourself and others around you safe. Beach-goers should always know the forecast before even heading to the beach. Folks should also know the flag system and the surf conditions associated with each flag.
Itâ??s also a good idea to know how to identify the classic channel currents and rip currents. For example, sand or debris flowing away from the beach is a signature of your classic rip current. To escape/avoid a rip current, youâ??ll usually have to swim parallel to the coastline.
There are many other beach hazards of which everyone should be aware. Click the links below to learn more!