Safety tips for swimming in the Great Lakes

Safety tips for swimming in the Great Lakes

EMMET COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Two people died and several other were rescued from rough waters off the beach of Grand Haven on Sunday.

The struggling swimmer prompted rescue attempts from first responders and dozens of other beach-goers who formed human chains to try to rescue them.

The Petoskey State Park Beach typically sees calmer conditions than Grand Haven, but has a similar system for alerting swimmers.

“It is at a swim at your own risk, but we also try to take the extra step to make a few more patrols, talk to people, educate people, especially people who aren’t familiar with the Great Lakes," said Shawn Connors, the lead park ranger at Petoskey State Park.

Green, yellow and red flags also let swimmers know what kinds of conditions to look out for.

Rangers also have some tips for dealing with rough water.

“If they run into a situation, they need to stay calm," Connors said. "That’s the number one thing. "Generally if you’re in a rip current, they want you to swim parallel to the shore.”

Some would like to see safety precautions go a step further.

“It blows my mind that water safety curriculum isn’t in the state, statewide, because you’re always near a body of water," said Dave Benjamin, the executive director of The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. "And it blows my mind that you have all these beaches with no life guards.”

Benjamin's group tracks drowning in the Great Lakes.

He says this year there have been 55 drownings, 18 of those in Lake Michigan.

Park rangers say no drownings have been reported at the Petoskey State Park this year.