Safety tips for swimming when Lake Erie becomes dangerous

1:07 AM, Jun 28, 2012   |    comments
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Three people were pulled into Lake Erie by powerful riptides earlier this week in Bay Village's Huntington Beach.

Most of the drownings that occur in the lake are caused by these dangerous underwater currents called "riptides."

Brian Fowler is the Chief of Recreations at Lake MetroParks.  Fowler knows the waters well.

Even though the green flag was waving, indicating the lake is generally calm, a change in wind speed could mean waves a few feet high.

If the winds get high enough, a rip current could form.   

"If you're a swimmer and you happen to be swimming along the shore and you end up where the rip tide is, it's going to take you out to sea," Fowler.

"When you turn around and try to swim back to that spot, it's like a fish swimming upstream its going to pull you back out."

The best way to deal with a rip current is to allow the current to pull you out, then swim parallel to the shore. 

Once you're out of the current, swim towards the shore. If you find you're having too much trouble, you can signal lifeguards by floating on your back. 

Most importantly, don't underestimate the water or overestimate your swimming abilities in calm water.

"Even good swimmers, as today is nice and calm but you put a 4 to 6 ft wave out there, and even the best swimmers would have trouble coming back in where the rip current is," Fowler.




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