The gorgeous Sheboygan summer days are finally here! Now is the time to take advantage of the weather and be active with your family on the beautiful beaches of Sheboygan County. Before you throw on those flip flops and run to the beach, remember that safety is priority No.1.
While swimming in Lake Michigan, it is essential to be aware of the dangers of currents. According to the Coast Guard, since 2002, Lake Michigan had 82 fatalities and at least 243 rescues that were current-related. Lake Michigan has the highest number of total incidents of all the Great Lakes with 199 more incidents than all of the other lakes combined.
To keep you safe, here are some tips for avoiding, recognizing and escaping currents:
• Look for changes in water color, water motion, or channels of churning or choppy water.
• Learn how to swim, never swim alone and check for warning flags that indicated hazards.
• If there is any doubt that a current is present, don’t enter the water. Remember: If in doubt, don’t go out.
Escaping a current
• Conserve energy by staying calm, swim parallel to the shoreline and once you are out, swim toward the shore.
• If you are unable to escape, try to float or tread water until the current subsides and wave your arms to draw attention to yourself.
To assist someone
• If a lifeguard isn’t present call 911and throw the victim a floating item.
• Do not enter the water and become a victim yourself. Besides safety in the water, it is important to be aware of other beach time basics. For parents, it is imperative to keep an eye on your children. Knowing where your children are and what they are doing will help to keep them safe, especially during busy beach times. While on the beach, be sure to take preventative measures against sun damage, such as wearing protective eyewear, applying sunscreen and drinking lots of fluids. Drinking plenty of fluids and staying hydrated is vital to your health in the sum- mer months. Protecting yourself against the heat is extremely important because heat can cause serious health issues and even death. In 2012, Wisconsin had confirmed 27 fatalities that were heatrelated. Ready Wisconsin, a part of Wisconsin Emergency Management, recommends the following actions to protect yourself against the heat and stay cool this summer:
• Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
• Drink plenty of water and avoid overeating.
• Take a cool shower or bath if you feel overheated.
• Keep your living space cool or go to a cool public place.
• Limit strenuous physical activity in intense heat. This summer, while you have your toes in the sand, remember to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and others. By taking the appropriate preventative measures, you will have a happier and healthier beach experience.
Libby Holte, CHES is a Public Health Educator for the Sheboygan County Division of Public Health and is the Co-Chair of the Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Leadership Council.