Sen. John Proos: Checking for riptides could save your lifePublished 10:59pm Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Following record-high temperatures in July, many southwest Michigan families are heading to the beach or to the local swimming pool to beat the heat.
Swimming is a fun recreational activity that is also an excellent cardiovascular, full-body workout.
Michigan offers an abundance of swimming opportunities with more than 11,000 inland lakes, more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and a countless number of neighborhood and personal pools.
But with these opportunities comes a certain amount of risk.
If you head out to the water this summer, please take necessary precautions to make it a safe trip, including taking swimming lessons, following safety guidelines and looking out for dangerous rip currents.
As a former lifeguard, I know that our lakefront is not to be feared, but respected.
The Great Lakes are some of our greatest treasures, but they also pose one of our greatest dangers.
The Great Lakes are not known for rip currents, but these currents can be deadly.
Riptides were cited as the main cause of more than 25 percent of the 87 drownings in the Great Lakes last year, and Lake Michigan’s currents claimed 17 lives in 2010.
The danger was made tragically clear last week, when a well-known and respected Chicago pediatric surgeon lost his life trying to save the lives of two children.
Dr. Donald Liu was vacationing with his family in Lakeside and went to the aid of two boys who were struggling in Lake Michigan.
He was able to save their lives, but he was caught in the lake’s powerful rip current and drowned.
In another incident, the death of a 41-year-old Illinois man off Tiscornia Beach was also determined to have been a result of riptides.
These two tragic deaths illustrate that rip currents are hazardous and can sweep away even the strongest swimmer.
Before heading out onto the lake or to a local pool, please remember that taking swimming lessons, using proper safety precautions and checking beach and water conditions for riptides will help ensure a fun time and could even save your life.
Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien and Cass counties and most of Van Buren County.
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