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E-M:/ Flag System Helps Swimmers Stay Safe on Great Lakes Beaches, DNR Reminds Visitors

Enviro-Mich message from "Richard Morscheck" <morscher@michigan.gov>

September 1, 2005

Contacts: George Cameron 517-241-4130 or Mary Dettloff 517-335-3014
Flag System Helps Swimmers Stay Safe
on Great Lakes Beaches, DNR Reminds Visitors

State parks and recreation officials today reminded swimmers to heed flag warnings on Great Lakes beaches and enjoy the water safely during the last weeks of warm weather.

The Department of Natural Resources parks and recreation staff at designated Great Lakes beaches use a flag system to signal potential for unsafe water conditions.

"We want our beach goers to know and recognize the signals that will help keep them safe while enjoying the water," said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. 

Red, yellow and green flags, each measuring 18 inches by 36 inches, indicate specific lake conditions:

* Green flags mean lake conditions are generally considered safe for swimming. Undertow/rip tides are not expected with minimal wind and wave action.

* Yellow flags mean lake conditions are considered moderately dangerous with two- to four-foot waves and strong offshore winds. An undertow and/or rip currents are not expected, but along-shore currents may be as high as 50 feet per minute. Inflatable toys or rafts are not safe to use.

* Red flags mean lake conditions may pose a real threat to swimmers. Waves may be more than four feet with windy conditions. Strong undertow and/or rip currents are likely to develop or be occurring.

Parks and recreation staff conduct regular, routine beach inspections. Buoys are used to mark a designed swimming area with water depth not to exceed five feet. Swimming outside the designated area or ignoring yellow and red flags on Great Lakes beaches puts swimmers at additional risk.

"All swimmers enter the water at their own risk, but these precautions help our visitors make good decisions to enjoy the beach and swimming safely," Olson said.

Parents or guardians are asked to please supervise children at all times and we recommend that they wear life jackets.

The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.


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