I was just visiting Saugatuck Dunes State Park with my wife and two children. Thankfully, the water was too cold to spend a significant amount of time in the water–especially with the recent reports of two swimmers’ bodies found in Lake Michigan. 22-year-old Brad Stoner of Livonia and 46-year-old Daniel Reed of Redford were both swimming on Tuesday afternoon off the Southwestern Michigan beach when they were pulled in by a rip current. The Coast Guard and the sheriff’s department were searching for the men’s bodies and found both on Wednesday.
Rip currents are no joke and can put the lives of swimmers at risk by their strong pull. A rip current is a strong channel of water flowing seaward from the shore and the typical flow is 1-2 feet per second, although the pull can be as strong as 8 feet per second. Ultimately, the danger is that a rip current can pull a swimmer so strongly and quickly that they drown while fighting the exhaustion that comes with resisting the current. There are an estimated 100 deaths annually in the U.S. caused by a rip current.
If you ever find yourself caught in a rip current, you should follow these safety tips:
- Remain calm to conserve energy and never fight the current.
- Think of the rip current as a treadmill that you need to step off of.
- Swim parallel to the shoreline to escape the current. When out of the current, swim at an angle away from it, towards the shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the current, tread water or float calmly. Eventually you should be able to get out of the current and swim to shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, wave your arms or shout loudly for help.
- If you see someone else struggling in a rip current, don’t attempt to save them. Many people die trying to save someone else caught in a rip current. Instead, get help from a lifeguard or call 911 if there is no lifeguard on duty. Also, throw a flotation device to the victim and yell instructions on how to escape.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.