FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — This week is Beach Hazards Awareness Week across the Great Lakes region.
There are several tips that the local National Weather Service offices suggest each year.
The first tip is to know before you go to the beach.
This means that you should check the forecast and check the swim risks before you leave to go.
Here's a link to the website.
The second tip is to be cautious in cold water.
At the beginning of the summer, lake water temperatures are in the 40s and 50s.
Cold temperatures like those can cause hypothermia within an hour.
Jumping into cold water could cause drowning and cold shock.
The third tip is to stay dry when waves are high.
An interesting fact about high waves is that 86% of current-related incidents on the Great Lakes happen when the waves are 3 feet or higher.
The fourth tip is to wear a life jacket.
In 2015, drowning was the reported cause of death in 3/4ths of all boating-related deaths.
In addition, 85% of those deaths were people who were not wearing a life jacket.
The fifth tip is to designate a water watcher.
A water watcher is someone who stays back on the beach and watches the swimmers.
They typically know how to determine if someone is in distress and can rescue them from the water.
Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children between 1 to 4 years old.
The sixth tip is to steer clear of the pier.
Half of current-related drownings and rescues occur near piers and similar structures.
The seventh tip is to learn the five types of currents. Longshore currents run along the beach, but can carry you out to other currents.
Channel currents move along the beach, but between it and potentially rocks resting on a sandbar.
Outlet currents are the flow of water from river or stream into a lake.
These can be strong enough, especially after heavy rains, to wash you away from shore.
Rip currents and structural currents are quick flows of water moving away from the shore. These currents can quickly sweep you into deep water.
The eighth tip is to know how to escape dangerous currents. If you end up caught in a current, flip onto your back and float to conserve energy.
Swim to side of the current and swim back to shore.
If you're caught in a structural current, try to swim to a ladder if it's available. It's also important to stay calm and don't fit the current.
According to the National Weather Service, there's an average of 12 deaths and 23 rescues each summer because of dangerous currents in the Great Lakes.
The National Weather Service Office in Northern Indiana runs the Great Lakes Current Incident Database.
That's an archive of current-related incidents.
If you want to read more about the reports, you can here.