“These are not lakes, these are the world’s eighth seas, and her bottom is littered with the wreckage of over six thousand ships.”
~The Three Sisters, Song of the Lakes
This gorgeous shot of the St. Joseph Pier Lighthouses demonstrates the incredible power of Great Lakes waves. I live in Traverse City, and this summer it feels like Lake Michigan has claimed the lives of more people than normal. Whether or not that’s true (it’s not), I thought this photo offered the perfect opportunity to share some tips and tools for staying safe on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie!
- Thinking of any of the Great Lakes as anything like any lake you’re familiar with is a mistake. They are freshwater seas that can pack incredible power. They are stronger than you and can end your life in an instant if you don’t respect them.
- The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is a nonprofit dedicated to drowning prevention that keeps track of drowning statistics: 74 in 2010, 87 in 2011, 101 in 2012 and 39 so far in 2013. (you can also keep up with them on Facebook)
- Life jackets can save your life. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that 90% of the people who drown in a boating or water accidents would survive with a life jacket.
- Cold kills! Hypothermia is a danger all year round on the Great Lakes. Click that link for tips on how to stay alive if you do end up in the water.
- Rip Currents (sometimes called “undertow” or “rip tide”) are a big danger on Michigan beaches accounting for the majority of drownings. Michigan is 4th in rip current related fatalities behind Florida, California, and North Carolina – we have “ocean force” rip currents. Learn how to beat them in this video.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers comprehensive Great Lakes marine forecasts.
- The MyBeachCast smarthphone app can predict waves and warn you of hazardous conditions.
- Do you have more tips? Share them in the comments!
Catch a Michigan wave on Michigan in Pictures!