During the final stretch of summer, it’s useful to be reminded of the important of water safety. Whether you are out on the water kayaking, boating or fishing, you should always put safety first by never underestimating weather, water conditions or the value of a life jacket.
No matter what kind of water you are in or what depth you are at, strong currents can happen – even in shallow water. The DNR’s district law supervisor in southwest Michigan, Lt. Gerald Thayer, suggests that if you’re unsure about conditions, check with local authorities or an area boat rental, marina or outdoor gear retailer.
“We have been in situations where divers are searching for a missing swimmer, and people are still swimming nearby, offshore where there are red flags. Or they jump off piers and bridges, unaware they’re jumping into rough water. When us Michiganders go to the ocean, we take notice of the warnings about rip currents or other possible dangerous conditions because we approach the ocean with respect, but we forget our own Great Lakes can be just as dangerous at times,” Thayer said.
If you are out on the water, or heading out on the water, here are a few things to keep in mind to keep you safe:
- Check the Great Lakes Surface Currents Map for real-time visuals of currents in the Great Lakes, or river flow rates through the U.S. Geological Survey.
- Make sure your boat, kayak or canoe is properly equipped with life jackets, fire extinguishers and a first aid kit, plus nautical charts if you’re on the Great Lakes.
- Leave a float plan, including your planned route and scheduled check-in times, with someone on shore.
Learn more about boat safety through the National Safe Boating Council.