UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – Here in the Upper Peninsula, we are surrounded by water, whether it be the Great Lakes, rivers, or in-land lakes; and with summer in full swing, lots of us will go swimming to cool off.
Shannon Handler, a family nurse practitioner with Aspirus Health, offers some safe swimming tips when you’re out in the water.
“In the summer we have lots of awesome beaches around here so we spend at least a little bit of time for every child talking about making sure you know where your kids are,” said Handler. “Having someone around like an adult supervising, and that actually goes for even older kids and adults, so just having someone around because sometimes things can just happen and you’re just better off swimming with a buddy. We often recommend life jackets for kids anytime they’re near the water just because when they run in and play and something can happen it might take a second or two to get to them. Generally, just a good idea to have a life jacket on a kid who isn’t a very good swimmer if you’re not going to be right next to them.”
Handler also suggests how early kids should start learning how to swim.
“As young as you can get the kids in the water. So because we have lots of great beaches up here and kids are swimming basically right away so as soon as you can get them in the water. Having a few lessons of how to swim and safely swim is really important. But until we’re to the point where they can swim pretty much five minutes without a problem, probably want to have a life jacket on them if you’re not right there, like right in the water like an arm’s length away holding them.”
Rip currents are also something to look out for, especially in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
“Rip currents are usually like where the pressure of the water coming from the outer, the larger body is pushing in a smaller tunnel, and depending on the sand of the underside surface looks like it can be pushing in a fairly small tunnel which can give a fairly high current. So if you’re walking on an area in the sand, you can actually get caught into the area where the water is coming from the out and being funneled through the small area and it can kind of pull you with it.
“So it’s not really pulling you under, it’s pulling you laterally back out into the deeper water and if you’re trying to swim back in that exact same current it can be very difficult because the pressure coming towards you can actually be lots and lots of water. What you want to do is not panic and then see if you can work your way to the side of the channel of water and then you can usually fairly simply just swim your way back. But it’s a pretty good rule that if you see waves more than three feet and sometimes we get pretty big waves, and if you’re not like an excellent swimmer you may not want to go in,” said Handler.
For more water safety tips, click here.