Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes State Park - file photo by Shawno Cleary, AP
Shawno Cleary / The Associated Press

Jamie Racklyeft says the three and four foot waves on Lake Michigan “looked like fun.” The Executive Director of the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium says he had not heard of rip currents until the day he had to be rescued. Now Rackleyft says he wants others to know the dangers on the Great Lakes.

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The Director of the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium says ideally there would be lifeguards on Great Lakes beaches, but he says in places where they aren’t on duty, people have to be extra vigilant to prevent drowning.

Jamie Racklyeft says many local governments don’t want to hire lifeguards because of liability. He says municipal leaders are afraid that they can be sued if they post lifeguards at a beach and something happens. But Racklyeft says a sign that says “no lifeguard on duty” doesn’t save anybody, and he says it's no guarantee to prevent legal action. “If you’re going to get sued, and anybody can get sued for anything, it’s a matter of whether you win or not. But wouldn’t you rather get sued for trying to help than for doing nothing?”

File photo of the South Haven lighthouse by WMUK

The Great Lakes are not as large as the oceans, but Bridge reporter Jim Malewitz says they are large bodies of water and hazards like rip currents can make them very dangerous, even deadly.


Reporter Elizabeth Miller says that seeing beaches in Ohio without lifeguards made her think about the issue of drowning on the Great Lakes. 

Drownings prompt Lake Michigan rip current study

Jun 25, 2013

Members of Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center say they want to able to predict when and where rip currents might occur at least a day in advance.