High lake levels prompt safety warnings

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on July 8th, 2019

Today we’re going to take you on a bit of a detour from our regular insurance topics. Not because we don’t think these tips can make your life easier (and they really can), but because there’s an important public safety notice we want to share.

As you may be aware, record-high water levels in the Great Lakes are damaging property and prompting warnings about heightened safety risks.

The rising waters – expected to persist into summer – have meant vanishing beaches, submerged docks and inundated cottages. Other dangers include floating debris, damage to shorelines and seawalls as well as flooding. There are additional risks on piers, where even the smallest of waves can now wash over the top, creating the potential for being swept off.

But there’s another danger that has prompted some officials to issue warnings about electric shock drowning (ESD) which occurs when a person comes into contact with an electrical current in the water. Stray voltage can come from boats or docks with faulty wiring, frayed cords and devices not approved as shore- or marine-rated. Known as the silent killer, it can cause complete loss of muscle control, the inability to move and lead to drowning.

How to avoid ESD

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources recently offered these safety tips:

  • Do not enter water near a marina or dock.
  • Turn off the shore power connection and/or disconnect power cord from pedestal.
  • If you feel a tingling sensation, get out of the water (without touching any metal objects) and report it.
  • Notify the harbourmaster of any electrical safety hazards so they can be repaired.
  • Pets can also be affected by ESD. Don’t allow them to enter the water.

Boaters also share in the responsibility to help prevent electrical currents from entering the water. They should:

  • Ensure a qualified marine electrician performs an annual inspection of the boat’s electrical system. Test your boat for stray currents and that ground fault interrupters are working.
  • Use power cords that are in good condition. Do not use household extension cords.

Check beach warnings

Swimmers at designated beach areas must be more vigilant too.

Rip currents, high waves and other dangerous currents and wave conditions can occur in the Great Lakes. Be aware of the coloured flag system used to communicate swim risk. Check the flag upon arrival and continue to monitor as conditions can change quickly.

Follow these safety tips:

  • Swim only in designated buoyed swim areas and never jump off or swim near piers where currents are dangerous.
  • Be aware of lifesaving devices at public beaches. If you see someone in trouble, throw the lifesaving device or anything that floats and call for help.
  • Never swim alone. Be sure someone else is with you in case of emergency.
  • Keep a close eye on children. Stay within arm’s reach and have them wear a lifejacket.

It’s hard to resist the pull of water on a hot day. But staying safe – and alive – is the most important ingredient for an enjoyable summer.

Related reading: How to escape a rip current

Summer water safety tips

Share on social media