GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end to summer. Many families spent time on West Michigan beaches and in the water this year.
But water conditions can change, and flag warnings need to be closely watched in the water.
Sunday, a 30-year-old man died while swimming at Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Witnesses pulled him from the water to perform CPR, but it was too late. The day before, a 67-year-old man died swimming at a private beach in Park Township.
"Most people don't know that 80% of all drowning victims are male," said David Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP), "because males are more likely to take risks, more susceptible to peer pressure, more likely to overestimate their ability. And then 66% of all drowning victims were good, strong, competent swimmers."
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According to GLSRP, 77 people have drowned in the Great Lakes this year. 35 of those were in Lake Michigan. And the drownings do not cease once the weather turns. Benjamin said swimmers need to be "hypervigilant" when going into any body of water.
"If someone is struggling in water over their head, doing the signs of drowning," said Benjamin, "what we advocate is they roll over their back, they flip, float and follow. So, they flip over in the back and they float, keep their head above water, calm themselves down from the panic of drowning, conserve their energy, and then follow a safe path out of water."
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