Boating Staying Safe During Your Summer Lake Vacation
There are few events Wisconsinites look forward to as much as going to Lake Michigan for a summer vacation. Whether you’re into freshwater surfing or taking sailing lessons or spending the day on a jet ski, the almost non-stop fun of the lake in the summer should always be balanced with proper water safety precautions like these from the American Red Cross. Here’s a look at some easy-to-follow water safety tips for keeping yourself, your family, and your friends safe this summer on Lake Michigan.
Rip currents, waves, boat wakes, underwater hazards, and other dangers don’t just lurk in open ocean bodies of water; they’re also present in lakes. Lake Michigan in particular has notorious riptide and longshore tide dangers. So what should you do? If you’re going out on a boat, a jet ski, a paddleboard, a kayak, or a surfboard, make sure to always wear a life vest and have enough vests for everyone who is participating. If you’re planning on swimming, make sure you’re at a beach with a lifeguard. On top of that, ask someone in your party to keep an eye on you from the shore. Don’t dive off of docks or the edges of boats unless you’ve carefully checked for depth and any underwater obstacles. And lastly, never do anything in or near the water that you’re hesitant about and never encourage another to disregard their own caution. When it comes to the lake, it’s always best to be safe than sorry. As such, we encourage anyone that doesn’t have CPR or first aid training to go ahead and get it before heading to the lake.
While there’s plenty of fun that can be had at certain events with alcohol, playing in and around the water should never include drinking alcohol. The leading cause of fatal and non-fatal boat accidents is alcohol. Not only does alcohol slow your reaction time and impair your judgment, but it can also make you sleepy since it is a depressant. Those are three big negatives for anyone behind the wheel of a boat, paddling a kayak, or catching a wave. Have your fun on the lake, but save the drinks until you’re on dry land and done for the day.
While we mentioned it briefly up above, the mantra to “Always wear a life jacket” bears repeating. In boating accidents, 84.5% of those who drowned weren’t wearing their life vests. Even strong swimmers need to wear a vest when out on the water. With the possibility of cramps, riptides, getting hit by something, among other factors, you never know what awaits you on the lake. If the unimaginable happens, a life jacket could very well save your life.
Children’s bodies and brains are still developing, so they don’t always make the best decisions, and their coordination is in constant flux. For these reasons, children, even if they’ve taken swim lessons, should always be watched very carefully when they are in and around the lake. To do this properly, keep a low ratio. Make sure you have one set of adult eyes per two children. If someone needs to go to the bathroom or is ready to take a dip in the lake, make sure the responsibility to keep watch over little ones has been passed on to someone else.
Sunburns and dehydration can not only make your day at the lake and the days that follow miserable, but they can actually be dangerous to your health. Put a high SPF, waterproof sunscreen on at the start of your day at the lake, and reapply every hour. If you have any children or elders with you, make sure their exposed skin is receiving the same regimen. Pack an umbrella, a large hat, and a coverup, too, and always have more water than you think you’ll need to keep heat stroke and sunstroke at bay.
While this is not an exhaustive list of safety rules for a vacation at the lake, it’s a good start. If you plan ahead and take precautions, there’s no reason your vacation at Lake Michigan should ever be anything but perfect.