June 2nd - 8th is Beach Hazard Awareness Week across the Great Lakes. You wouldn't think hazards that you find on the East Coast or Gulf Coast exist here, but since the Great Lakes are such large bodies of water, we have those risks here as well. To avoid going into water that is dangerous, here are a few tips to keep you and your family safe.
You never want to swim on a beach that does not have a lifeguard.
You also want to familiarize yourself with the beach hazard flag system that many beaches have. The different colors signify current conditions and whether or not it is safe to enter the water. If waves are higher than two feet, the pileup of water on the shore could create a rip current, as that water heads out.
If you get caught in a rip current, do not panic! Do not try to swim back to shore against the current. Instead, swim parallel to the shore. You will eventually swim out of the rip current and can swim back to shore safely.
You also want to check water temperatures. Even in the Summer, hypothermia is a concern as lake water temperatures rarely climb above 75º. Hypothermia can be deadly.
Finally, if there are thunderstorms anywhere near you, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.
Head indoors when thunder roars.
Check on conditions from the National Weather Service before you head out to avoid any dangers all together.