On Monday July 31st, MAX made their debut in Park Township which also means riders can now get to the beach through public transportation. Now, with that being said MAX also cares about water safety for our riders. Do you know how to spot a rip current? Or what to do when you’re in one?

Growing up in Northern Michigan, I won’t lie, I didn’t always acknowledge the warning flags or checked online for any rip currents. To me they were big waves that I was ready to splash in. Looking back now, I unknowingly put myself in danger. It wasn’t until I moved to Marquette Michigan where I started taking the signs more seriously.

Our great lakes are susceptible to rip currents. Rip currents form at low spots or breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as groins, jetties, and piers. Rip currents can be very narrow or extend in widths to hundreds of yards. They can also be very deep and can be strong enough to knock you off your feet. So far in 2017, there have been 52 deaths in our lakes and 589 drownings since 2010.

For children, invest in a proper fitting, coast guard approved flotation vest and have kids wear them near water. Check the weight and size recommendations on the label, then have your child try it on to make sure it fits snugly. Remember KIDS DON’T FLOAT! For kids younger than 5 years old, choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support – the collar will keep the child’s head up and face out of the water. Inflatable vests and arm devices such as water wings are NOT effective protection against drowning.

 

Spotting Rip Currents.
Rip currents are not always easy to identify, but sigs of rip currents include a break in the pattern of incoming waves, churning or choppy water, in an area with noticeably different water color, line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily seaward. In the picture below, you’ll see two red arrows pointing, at what looks like, relatively calm water, however that calm spot is actually the sign of a rip current.

Rips are fast-moving currents of water that can pull even the strongest swimmer away from the shore. According to the USLA, rip currents account for at least 100 deaths each year at U.S. surf beaches.

What to do in a rip current
–  Don’t fight the current. It’s a natural treadmill that ravels an average speed of 1-2 feet per second, but has been measured as fast as 8 feet per second, that’s faster than an Olympic swimmer.
–  Relax and float to conserve energy. Staying calm may save your life.
–  Do NOT try to swim directly into shore. Swim along the shoreline until you escape the  currents pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current towards shore.
–  If you feel you can’t reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help. Remember: If in doubt don’t go out.

Know before you go
Check out the Great Lake Beach Hazards website for forecast and statements.
In Ottawa County, we have the highest number of current related incidents compared to every other county in Michigan.

Top 5 Counties with highest Current related incidents since 2002
– Ottawa County: 109
– Berrien County: 49
– Emmet County: 18
– Van Buren County: 17
– Marquette County: 12

Here at MAX, we care about the safety of our riders even when they’re not riding on our bus. We hope that this information will help everyone understand the importance of water safety and not to ignore the signs, or flags while enjoying time out on the beach. Make sure to refer to NOAA (National Oceanic and atmospheric administration) to check your local beach forecast and remember, the signs are there for a reason.