No lifeguards at South Haven beaches again this summer

NOW: No lifeguards at South Haven beaches again this summer

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. -- It was a calm day at South Beach.

The water was glassy and the sand was soothing, even if the air wasn't particularly warm.

And even on a Monday morning, plenty of folks flocked to beach.

"We just wanted to get out and come have some fun at the beach," said Ervin Bell, who came to South Haven from Kalamazoo.

Also visiting was Rob Roy, also from Kalamazoo, who stopped by the beach with his family.

"It's a beautiful day, got the day off," said Roy. "South Haven, I've been coming here for years. I live just about an hour east from here, not even. No reason not to go to the beach on a beautiful day like this."

However, the beaches here in South Haven have no lifeguards; instead, swimmers are advised to swim at their own risk.

A flag system gives beachgoers some idea of what the water is like: green flags mean they can go out and swim, yellow flags still allow swimming, but advise that the conditions may be dangerous, and red flags mean no swimming at all, and violators can be fined $1,000.

But the system is not bulletproof.

Last August, two teenagers drowned at South Beach on a day when yellow flags were posted.

Today, green flags flew high, even though the water was very cold, which itself can be dangerous.

Last May, two brothers from South Bend drowned at Warren Dunes State Park after entering water with temps around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the same temperature it was today.

"It's a little early in the season to be getting out there," said Roy, who didn't even bring a suit to go into the water.

Though, the frigid temps didn't stop everyone. Several young kids braved the cold water, though they didn't stay in for long.

The city has also put out life jackets that beachgoers can use to stay safe in the water.

Roy said, "It's nice that, even though there's no lifeguards there, they're putting up safety measures for people."

While the flags and life jackets can help visitors make an informed decision about getting into the water-- some believed it just isn't enough.

"I wouldn't mind if they bring lifeguards back out here," said Roy.

Bell added, "We need lifeguards, man, just in case. It gets packed sometimes. Some summers, there's a lot of people out. Parents are not always able to swim, so we wanna make sure we've got somebody that's trained out here at all costs, you know?"

If you want to visit the beaches here in South Haven and are unsure of what the conditions will be like-- the city posts advisories on their website.

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