National Drowning Prevention Alliance
     “Lifesaver of the Year” Award 2012 & 2020
        “Community Lifesaver” Award 2016 & 2018

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101 Great Lakes Drownings


Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director of Public Relations, 708-903-0166
Bob Pratt, Executive Director of Education, 517-643-2553

101 Great Lakes Drownings in 2012; 262 since 2010

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) announces its current drowning statistics. There were 101 drownings on the Great Lakes in 2012, and there are at least five drowning cases yet to be confirmed (four of those occurring in Chicago). Overall there have been 262 drownings on the Great Lakes since 2010 (87 drownings in 2011; 74 drownings in 2010). Click “Here” for complete 2010 to 2013 drowning statistics.

“Great Lakes drownings are now at a ‘pandemic-like’ state,” said Dave Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. “These drowning fatalities should prompt communities to completely rethink beach and water safety programs.”

The last two summers the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project has performed 17 “Water Safety Surf Rescue” classes on the beaches of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.  It has now created a water safety curriculum that it plans to pilot in May to school children K-12 in Portage, Indiana and New Buffalo, Michigan.  Additional schools and communities are being considered.

According to the GLSRP, a lot more needs to be done on the Great Lakes beaches such as:
–A regional and national surf environment water safety public education curriculum
–Lifeguards with open water/rough water training (a lot of beaches don’t have lifeguards or do not have lifeguards with open water training)
–Rescue Surf Boards
–Rescue Jet Skis
–Updated hazard signs (including the Great Lakes “Dangerous Currents“)
–Updated rip current and rip current survival signs
–“Hands-on” Adult Supervision signs
–Throw rings
–Call boxes
–Mobile water rescue teams and/or dive teams
–Flag Warning System (Green, Yellow, or Red)
–Beach ambassadors speaking with beach goers about the hazards and dangers of the surf environment

Amidst the drowning fatalities and possible swim ban, in Northwest Indiana there are two beach restoration projects totaling $70 million, which will bring even more people to the lakefront.

In Gary the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) provided a $28 million grant for the Marquette Park Lakefront East Project.  “It will create an economic boom nearby and bring people to this important piece of shoreline,” said RDA Executive Director Bill Hanna.  In Whiting the focus of the $42 million redevelopment project is to transform the Whiting Lakefront Park into a destination point for all to enjoy.

“With all of this money for restoration projects designed to bring more people to the beaches, you have to ask the question, ‘How much money or funding is allocated for water safety drowning prevention programs,’” Benjamin said.

“These drowning numbers do not happen on the east coast and west coast combined, so what are they doing on the coasts that are not being done on the Great Lakes?”


 Become a member of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.  The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is about saving lives.  It is a nonprofit corporation that is a Chapter of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) that tracks drowning statistics, teaches “Water Safety Surf Rescue” classes, and leads the “Third Coast Ocean Force” rip current awareness campaign on the Great Lakes.

It presented at the 2nd International Rip Current Symposium Nov. 1st, 2012 in Sydney, Australia; the 2012 winner of the “Outstanding Service to the Great Lakes Community” award presented by the Dairyland Surf Classic; the 2011 “Lifesaver of the Year” award winner; and a presenter at the NDPA’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, March 9, 2012.

SAFETY TIPS – What everyone should know before they put their toes on the beach:
–When in doubt, don’t go out!
–Know the 1-10-1 Rule of Hypothermia (especially in fall, winter, and spring)
–Know the Michigan Sea Grants “Flip, Float, and Follow” Rip Current Survival Strategy
–Know the Signs of Drowning
–Know the Great Lakes Dangerous Currents
–Drowning Terms for the Media to Discontinue