Michigan is covered in water! We have lakes, rivers, and ponds all over the place! Trivia websites will say that our state has the highest water to land ratio at 58% land and 42% water. We’ve even been blessed with being surrounded by the Great Lakes and having a massive fresh water source all around us. As amazing as this is, it’s can also be dangerous. Some of us have grown up very comfortable with the water and forget about how dangerous it can be or what to watch out for when spending a day at the beach. Water can be so fun and exciting but we need to be cautious when near it, and not get carried away with our excitement. Here are some basic guidelines and reminders before getting your suit on and heading for the deep end:
1. Adults and/or Lifeguards are necessary! You may think that you can handle 4 kids for their first trip to the beach but it’s better to be extra cautious. Having an extra set of eyes and hands to help in case of an emergency can only be beneficial. Someone with a first aid background is preferable. A busy beach can cause distractions to you and anyone else who might be with you. It only takes a second of a child being unwatched for an accident to occur. Your own children may not be the issue either and you might need another adult to assist you with the situation.
2. Pick the right life jacket and monitor the person wearing it. A life jacket that doesn’t fit will only cause stress and panic. If it’s too small then it won’t have the ability to keep the person’s head afloat, and if it’s too large then they’ll slip right out of it! A lifejacket that is even slightly too large will make it difficult to swim. Choose the correct size and you’ll be safe! Now even when wearing a life jacket you still must monitor them. Small children frequently get stuck face down in the water and are not strong enough to stand themselves back up or even lift their face out of the water.
3. No running or flipping near water. These are both fun activities however they are dangerous. We want to be sure that we have good traction and know what we’re doing. Running on the wet tile is one of the easiest ways to get a concussion. Flipping and/or diving both need to be from experienced people who have surveyed their surroundings and the depth of the water.
4. Alcohol causes problems. We all know that alcohol can impair judgment and can easily be overly consumed. We need to be sure though, that while we’re at the beach we’re drinking plenty of water and having a snack as well. Not only will it keep our minds more clear but it will keep our bodies healthier and more able to endure a day in the hot sun.
5. Stay out of direct sunlight to avoid heat stroke! You may think you’re just feeling tired and warm but it could be something worse! A few symptoms of heat stroke is a headache, dizziness, lack of sweat, hot and dry skin, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea, and rapid shallow breathing. If you, or anyone else, show these symptoms then you will want to get to a shaded area and cover them with cool water. Fanning them will help as well. Ice packs or wet towels can be placed in the armpits and on the neck to help with the cooling process.
6. Be sure to drink water – swimming is exercise! While you’re in the water it might seem unnecessary to get out and go grab a drink of H2O but it’s essential to a fun day in the sun. Swimming is one of the best calorie burning exercises and is done while in the elements. If alcohol is an additional factor then it’s even more important to remember to drink water and stay hydrated. This will help prevent heat stroke and keep you energized during the day!
7. Sunburn under water – Most people assume that the areas of their body that is underwater, isn’t subject to the sun BUT the rays actually can reach down farther into the water. You will get a sunburn while swimming even when submerged.
8. Know your area and surroundings (boats, other people, and dangerous animals) – It’s important to be aware of your surroundings while at the beach. You’ll want to know if there’s rocks or any drop-offs in the swimming area if boats are near, and what the weather is going to be like. These are all things that can sneak up on us if we don’t pay close attention. You’ll also want to be conscious of the people swimming around you, one of the most common causes of drowning is when someone is panicking in the water and grabs onto the person closest to them. A flotation device is ALWAYS a better option in this situation.
Here are some fun places to check out if you’re looking for a water hot-spot:
- The Grand River
- Millennium Park
- Long Lake Park
- Myers Lake Park
- Wabasis Lake Park
- Rogue River (Rockford)
- Reeds Lake
- Riverside Park (within city of Grand Rapids)
- Thornapple River
- Flat River (Lowell)
- Bostwick Lake
Share with us! What’s your favorite beach and why?