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Number of drownings in Great Lakes jumps in 2021

Lake Michigan shoreline
Srikanth Peetha

More people have drowned in the Great Lakes so far in 2021 than were reported by this time last year, prompting officials to urge swimmers to practice water safety measures.

That’s as holiday beachgoers are warned today of dangerous swimming conditionsalong some portions of Lake Michigan’s shoreline.

Data collected by the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project shows 32 people have drowned in the Great Lakes as of July 2 compared to 25 by early July in 2020. The 2021 drownings include 15 in Lake Michigan, five in Lake Huron, six in Lake Erie and six in Lake Ontario.

The nonprofit is encouraging the "flip, float and follow" drowning survival strategy, which instructs swimmers caught in dangerous currents to prioritize floating and breathing before identifying an exit from the water.

Today, the National Weather Service issued a warning of hazardous beach conditions for Lake Michigan beaches in Ottawa, Muskegon, Oceana, and Mason counties, through 11p.m. tonight.

Strong currents can be dangerous for swimmers and high waves can sweep people off piers. NWS says the most dangerous conditions will be on the south side of piers.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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