The Great Lakes are a source of Michigan pride.
Who didn’t learn “HOMES” (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior) in their school days? I remember it like it was yesterday. It’s a Michigan summertime rite-of-passage to head Up North or West to our chosen lakes and make the most of summer. Some of my favorite memories of being in the water of one of our Great Lakes. The thing that doesn’t get mentioned much is the need for education and respect for the Great Lakes, particularly when on the beaches of Lake Michigan. Understanding Lake Michigan rip currents is important.
I was recently on South Beach in South Haven… August 9th, 2022. Two unresponsive swimmers were carried out of the water; neither survived. I watched as two people were desperately given CPR on the beach and taken away in ambulances, praying that by some miracle they had survived. It was beyond heartbreaking. I watched the boy’s mother crumple to the ground on the beach when she realized what had happened and there was nothing anyone could do. As a parent, it hit me hard. These drownings were most likely the result of rip currents.
Most Lake Michigan Beaches Do Not Have Lifeguards
I contacted the South Haven Visitors Bureau and The Chamber of Commerce. I suggested they raise the price of beach parking to help cover the cost of bringing in lifeguards for North and South beaches. Kate Hosier, the chair of the South Haven Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors returned my call. The response: “It’s not that easy.” She said they had tried to bring in lifeguards but couldn’t find enough staff. Kate said that they had “discussed it as a community” last year and they found that lifeguards were not warranted. She also told me that “people can drown when lifeguards are on duty too.” While I appreciate that Kate returned my phone call, she was not as receptive as I had hoped. I was left with a feeling of “mind your own business.”
In researching this topic, I found that Muskegon started charging for parking in 2020 and it has raised a million dollars in its second year (2021). If I had to pay $15 dollars to park (instead of the current fee of $10 a day), I would gladly pay that to have lifeguards. Before we get into that, let’s all get some lifesaving knowledge: