May is Safety Around Water Month. The Kenosha Safety Around Water Coalition Continues to Raise Awareness and is Offering Tips To Keep Our Community Safe in and Around Water this Summer.

In order to keep the residents of our community safe, Kenosha passed Kenosha City Ordinance #6.02(b)(6) states that no person should be in the water within 50 feet in any direction of the pier; this includes jumping off of the pier.

“Enter or remain in the water when an area is posted “No Swimming”. Enter or remain in the water during times when swimming is not permitted. Swim more than fifty (50) yards from shore. Swim outside of markers that designate a swimming area. Enter or remain in the water within fifty (50) feet, measured in any direction, of a pier, jetty, breakwater, or seawall, or within one hundred fifty (150) feet of the mouth of the Pike River. For purposes of this prohibition, “swim” includes wade. For purposes of this prohibition, jetty means a structure that is above the water line. For purposes of this prohibition, “water” means waters of Lake Michigan adjacent to the City of Kenosha”.

There has been considerable effort to create awareness of the dangers of jumping off the pier and the currents found in Lake Michigan. The city has installed permanent signs on the pier warning visitors about the dangers of jumping into the water and strong underwater currents. Also, in order to help facilitate the enforcement of the ordinance, the pier and lighthouse are patrolled by numerous agencies including the Kenosha Police Department and the fine for swimming within 50 feet of North Pier is $1000.00.

Due to its location and construction, the pier is affected by several types of currents with the most common being longshore and structural.

Red lighthouse at the end of the pier in Lake Michigan saying "The Pier is Not for Play"
Lake Michigan Danger Sign next to the pier

A longshore current is a current that moves parallel to the shore. Winds and waves hit the shoreline at angle and push the water down the length of the beach in one direction. Often, the longshore current is strong enough to keep on your feet on the bottom and may make it difficult for you to return to shore as it will move you sideways rather than allowing you to swim towards the beach. The longshore current can also move swimmers into other types of currents. One such current that is prevalent at North Pier is structural currents.

Structural currents often occur at manmade structures such as piers. These currents are the result of longshore currents hitting the structure and are deflected lakeward – away from the shore.  The combination of the longshore current pushing towards the pier, and the structural current moving lakeward creates a washing machine effect, moving the swimmer from one dangerous current to another. These currents can exceed 5 miles per hour, which does not seem fast, however, the average swimmer swims only 2 miles per hour. When caught in a structural current, there is no easy escape route.

The water is a great place to be, especially in the summer months. However, it is important to take the time to be knowledgeable about where you are swimming and be as safe as possible so the summer can go swimmingly.

Learn more about the Kenosha YMCA’s swim programs or water safety initiatives.

The Kenosha Safety Around Water Coalition meets monthly and works together to raise awareness around issues of water safety. Our mission is to create a culture of healthy respect and safe enjoyment of water in the Kenosha area through education and advocacy. Our current focus is Lake Michigan Safety. Our goal is to change the culture by educating students, parents and the general community that jumping from the pier and swimming in Pike River and Pike Creek is dangerous and life threatening. The Kenosha YMCA has hosted a monthly Safety Around Water Coalition meeting, made up of community members from all sectors, to keep the focus on raising water safety awareness year-round. Members of the coalition include representatives from the Kenosha YMCA, City of Kenosha Fire Department, City of Kenosha Police Department, City of Kenosha Aldermen, Village of Somers, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Kenosha County, Carthage College and concerned citizens.

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