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Safety at Great Lakes Beaches

Additional safety info

    • Designated swimming areas are identified by buoys or buoys and markers, a beach flag warning system and water depth less than 5 feet at the time of installation. Water depth is inspected approximately every 14 days and underwater obstacles will be posted or marked. You may also find other designated swim areas in areas other than state parks. 
    • Never jump off or swim near piers. Currents near piers can be extremely hazardous. Swimmers should be aware of particularly dangerous structural currents that form along shoreline structures near breakwalls.
    • There are no beach guards at state parks, so please use the buddy system. 
    • State park designated swim areas have lifesaving flotation device and equipment. If you see someone in trouble, call for help and throw the lifesaving device or anything else that floats. Avoid entering the water if possible and, if you must go, wear a life jacket.
    • Never swim alone: Be sure someone else is with you in case of an emergency.
    • During certain weather conditions, the force of water and waves crashing over the surface can easily wash someone off a structure.
    • If there is an emergency, immediately call 911. At Holland and Grand Haven state parks, use the nearest red zone number boards (located on the beach) to help relay your location as accurately as possible.
    • Keep close watch of children: Stay within arm's reach and have them wear a life jacket.
    • Visitors in areas without designated swim beaches should use extreme caution because they will not have the benefit of the beach flag warning system or the visual cautions of buoys that mark water depth and other obstacles.
    • When boating, insist that all aboard wear life jackets, have a float plan, stay alert and carry a cell phone or marine radio. Learn more.
    • Check local weather reports and lake conditions before and during your beach trip. You can learn about Great Lakes swim risk levels at weather.gov/greatlakes/beachhazards (National Weather Service).

Currents and how to escape from them

Additional Resources