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.
Tip #4: WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T GO OUT!
There is nothing better than an afternoon splashing around in the water and spending time together as a family. The lakefront in Kenosha is a wonderful place to swim and relax, but it is also a powerful body of water and should be respected.
Swimming in a lake or river is not the same as swimming in a pool. An open body of water can be affected by temperature, weather, changing currents and waves. Swimming in an open body of water can quickly exhaust your energy and strength. It is important to know before you go by checking reports of Lake Michigan’s waves and currents, water temperature, and the area’s weather forecast.
Waves and Current:
Even though it is hundreds of miles inland, Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes are so large that they act like oceans, being pushed and pulled by the wind which can create strong currents along harbors, shorelines and piers. Wave and water related danger increases significantly when waves are 3 feet or larger. Dangerous currents can pull swimmers into deeper water and high waves can sweep people off piers. On days where Lake Michigan waves are big consider staying out of the water.
The National Weather Service Beach Hazards website will let you know the swim risk on Lake Michigan is low, moderate, or high. http://www.weather/GreatLakes/beachhazards
Water heats much more slowly than air. Lake Michigan takes a while to warm up due to the large amount of water that must be heated. It can remain cold throughout the first part of the summer. Anything below 77 degrees Fahrenheit is considered cold and has swimming risks.
You should be prepared for going into cold water as it can cause shock to the body, even for the strongest swimmer and can make it hard to swim or even float. It also has an increased risk of hypothermia.
Lake Michigan water temperature can be found here: https://seatemperature.net/current/united-states/kenosha-wisconsin-united-states-sea-temperature
Respect the power of the water and don’t take chances. Knowledge is key to having a fantastic and safe summer on the water.
Warm summer days can feature lots of fun in the sun and also can bring summer storms. Be sure to have a way to check the weather from the beach. If storms do pop up, have an action plan to know where to take shelter or choose to pack up and head home. Remember, if you can hear thunder you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Lightning can strike many miles outside of a thunderstorm. Always wait 30 minutes after a storm has passed to resume outdoor activities.
Rain and strong winds can affect the water conditions and currents. Rain can hamper your visibility of the shoreline. The rain can also cause elevated levels of bacteria and other substances than were washed into the water which may cause the beaches and lakes to be closed. It is important to always have an exit plan before you get into the water and know if the water is safe for swimming.
You can find advisories for many beaches such as water quality at https://dnr.wi.gov/beachhealth/
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.