Since January 1st, the U.S. Coast Guard reports that there have been 64 drownings on the Great Lakes. This is a tragic statistic that has affected many communities across the state, including St. Clair County. The Coast Guard is using this as an opportunity to bring awareness to the potential dangers of the lakes. According to the organization’s reports, cold water, rip currents, boating under the influence, boating without a lifejacket, not filing a float plan with someone on shore, and not having proper communication devices such as a working radio were contributing factors in these deaths.
Last Monday morning, the Coast Guard says, a 57-year-old woman was rescued after spending more than 14 hours in the water after falling off her jet ski the night before. She likely survived because she was wearing a lifejacket. Friday morning, two men were rescued from their capsized boat after being stranded for nearly 16 hours. Luckily, they were both wearing lifejackets and had a flashlight to signal the helicopter crew.
Unfortunately, not all rescue situations have turned out favorably. It’s a reminder that we need to be aware of the danger and know what we can do to prevent or lessen it. The Coast Guard is advising individuals to know the conditions of the lake. People need to be aware of the water temperature, what the wind is like, how high water levels are, and what kind of weather is in the forecast. They also suggest sharing what you learn with others. The Coast Guard reminds Michigan residents that we can all contribute to saving lives by spreading information about water conditions and strongly encouraging others to practice water safety. This information is critical even for those who are familiar with the Great Lakes.