Rip current safety on Lake Superior

MARQUETTE — While the largest fresh water lake in the world is breathtaking, dangers lie in its midst.

Included in these dangers are rip currents, so what do you do if you find yourself stuck in one?

“The first thing you should do is not try to struggle against the current, don’t try to swim up against it, you want to swim parallel with the shoreline and let the current push you out a little bit, don’t try to swim towards it but swim with the shorelines until you are out of the current,” said U.S. Coast Guard Member, Timothy Koscielny.

Some popular swimming destinations in the city of Marquette have been known to experience these natural phenomenons.

“They are common along Picnic Rocks and Little Presque Isle, in that crossover area where people like to walk over to Little Presque Isle. That area tends to pick up a rip current,” said Koscielny.

When the sun comes out and warm weather hits the area, people flock to the beach, but it doesn’t mean that danger is obsolete.

“It can be a nice, really sunny day and as long as you have those big waves piling the water up on the shoreline, than there’s that chance for a rip current to form,” said Forecaster Keith Cooley.

When differentiating between the rip currents on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, that’s all dependent on the slopes of the beach.

“A lot of it has to do with how the beach is sloped and a lot of the beaches from Marquette eastward and from Escanaba eastward on Lake Michigan, those are generally sloped beaches there so they are more prone to rip current development,” said Cooley.

Know before you go, is a phrase anyone can keep in mind before hitting the beach.

“We do issue the forecast here and beach hazard statements, make sure to check the beach hazard forecast before you head out. You can find that on weather.org/MQT and another thing we push is to flip, float, and follow. If you get caught in any current, just flip to your back so you can keep your face above water float out with the current, and then follow it back into the shorelines,” said Cooley.

Other than large waves on the shore, some rip currents can be identifiable and a sign to use caution while swimming.

“A lot of times when they start forming, they’ll actually grab some of the sand with them and pull them out into the lake,” said Cooley.

To avoid a dangerous situation, the coast guard recommends to always bring a friend when swimming in Lake Superior.

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