Beach Hazards Awareness Week: what to know before you swim
Even if it looks like a beautiful beach day, there are many hazards you should consider before you head for a swim.
This week is Beach Hazards Awareness Week. Each day of the week, National Weather Service provides tips that will help you stay safe as you take a dip in the lake.
Before even going to the lake, you should check the water conditions for the day. Windy days usually mean taller waves, which could be dangerous for swimming. Each day is marked with a red, yellow, or green flag. Just like stoplights, green is fair, yellow means to use caution, and red means high risk swim conditions. Check the flag for the day by visiting this website.
Water temperature is also important to check. Just because it is warm outside doesn’t mean that water temperature is too. Being in cold water for too long can lead to hypothermia in as little as one hour.
Conditions like wave height, wave direction, and water temperature are measured by buoys. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant operates buoys in Lake Michigan. Because of COVID-19 and social distancing, the buoys had a late start this year. Michigan City’s buoy is expected to be installed on Monday, June 15.
Michigan City Buoy bits! Hopefully get it wired today, assembled tomorrow. Then we can test it for a couple of days and look for a good weather window! @TwoYellowBuoys@ILINSeaGrant@PurdueCE@TroyLab_Purdue@PurdueFNR@mtetrick_wxpic.twitter.com/JhjGL1kdAy— Jay Beugly (@JayILINseagrant) June 10, 2020
Jay Beugly is an aquatic ecology specialist for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Purdue University. Beugly says the buoy’s data collection is not mainly for research purposes, but instead, “always been geared towards informing the public about the weather and conditions that are going on out there.”
The buoy data is passed along to the Beach Hazards website, run by National Weather Service (NWS). Buoy data helps NWS determine swim conditions daily, and ultimately, helps keep you safe.
Other tips from National Weather Service include: wearing a life jacket, designating an adult to watch swimmers, swimming far away from piers, and learning how to escape if you are stuck in a dangerous current. You can learn about each topic by visiting the Beach Hazards Awareness Week website.
Learning these safety tips and checking conditions before you leave for the day, you can ensure that you have a fun, safe time at the beach this summer.