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Michigan Lake named deadliest Great Lake

Over half of the drownings in the Great Lakes so far this year have occurred in Lake Michigan. This is Michigan Lake's highest death count this time of year since 2012. 

Lifeguards at Silver Beach are doing their part to keep people safe in these dangerous waters. But the more crowded the beach becomes, the harder it is for lifeguards to keep everyone safe. 

Every day the lifeguards decide how dangerous the waters are and put up either a green, yellow, or red flag. 

"Our red flags are our no swim flags," said Haley Smoot, head lifeguard at Silver Beach. 

Because just like the oceans, lakes of this size can be dangerous.

"I think the most important thing to know about lakes is that they're a lot like oceans, and that you still have to have the same kind of respect for them that you would have for the ocean," Smoot said. "Just because they're a smaller body of water doesn't necessarily mean that they're any safer than oceans."

Lake Michigan has had 16 drownings so far this year. That's compared to only six in Lake Erie, two in Lake Huron, and none in Lake Superior so far. 

So Smoot says they stay on their toes. Drownings almost always happen when the flags are red and the currents are strong. 

"Especially if we have multiple red flag days in a row," she said. "People become impatient."

Silver Beach also has a pier, which can create a third current. 

Smoot says the best way to stay safe is to follow the lifeguard's rules and obey the flag system. 

Flags can change at any time during the day, so it is important to pay attention. 

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