MICHIGAN, USA — Drownings in Lake Michigan are down this year, with fewer now than we had this time last summer.
According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, in 2022, 43 people drowned in Lake Michigan, 12 at Michigan beaches. This year, 20 people have drowned in Lake Michigan, only two in Michigan.
Why are those numbers down?
"I think it's a combination of a lot of things," says Ron Olson, chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources's parks and recreation department.
The Michigan DNR says weather is a big factor, with a calm start to the summer.
"Not a lot of turbulence and which does stir up the lake and depending on the way that winds blow and certain spots, the rip currents tend to be more prevalent," says Olson.
And believes the flag system is working well to keep people out of the water on unsafe days.
"We haven't, as far as I know, haven't issued any citations," says Olson. "People have been very obedient to respect that not going into the water during those temporary closures and things like that."
Dave Benjamin with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, though, thinks the flag system still isn't enough.
"We don't have the public response like lifeguards, which we believe we should have," says Benjamin.
And encourages beachgoers to not be too confident in the water.
"We need to keep our guard up that the most deadliest part of the summer on Lake Michigan, is now through mid September," says Benjamin.
He says if you do find yourself in trouble, remember three simple words.
"Flip, float and follow," says Benjamin. "So you flip over your back and you float to keep your head above water to calm yourself down from the panic of drowning and conserve your energy and then follow a safe path out of the water."
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