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Drownings up 78% – School Water Safety Presentations

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

In 2016 Great Lakes Drownings increased 78% over 2015

Water Safety School Presentations this week in Benzie County, MI 

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) announces its current drowning statistics as it also announces Water Safety School Presentations March 20 – 24 for Benzie County, Michigan.

In 2016 the GLSRP tracked 98 Great Lakes drownings; 46 of those were in Lake Michigan plus 6 more Lake Michigan drowning accidents that were last listed in critical condition.  Overall since 2010, the GLSRP has tracked over 536 Great Lakes drownings.  Full statistics here.

This week the GLSRP will be performing Great Lakes Water Safety School Presentations in Benzie County.

March 20
Benzie High school, 10:15-11:30, 9300 Homestead Rd, Benzonia, MI 49616
Benzie Middle School, 12:30, 9300 Homestead Rd, Benzonia, MI 49616

March 21
Frankfort Elementary 8:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., 534 11th St, Frankfort, MI 49635
Frankfort Middle/High School, 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., 534 11th St, Frankfort, MI 49635

March 22
Crystal Lake 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (K-2 & 3-5) 7048 Severence St., Benzonia, MI 49616
Betsie Valley 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (K-2 & 3-5) 17936 Cadillac Hwy, Thompsonville, MI 49683

March 23
Lake Ann 1:00 p. m. – 4:00 p m. 19375 Bronson Lake Rd, Interlochen, MI 49643

Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital in Frankfort, Michigan applied for the grant to fund these presentations through the State of Michigan, Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness.

“Benzie County is located on the edge of Lake Michigan with multiple lakes, rivers and streams,” said Barbara Smith, RN, Trauma Program Manager. “Despite 63% of the county being under water, it was noted that there was no formal water safety education in the schools and no community pool.”

“These grant funds were requested to begin developing and implementing a broad based effort to bring water safety education to all of our school children,” Smith added.

“Drowning continues to be a neglected public health issue [according to a 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) report] and we know that it needs to be part of the school curriculum and addressed year round,” said Dave Benjamin, GLSRP executive director.

“Unfortunately water safety and drowning survival is not common sense. It’s a silent epidemic that gets very little proactive funding or attention.”

“We believe that water safety and drowning survival is not rocket science,” Benjamin added. “It is simple bullet pointed information that is not being efficiently or effectively delivered.”

The GLSRP’s 2017 calendar for school presentations in is filling up fast.

According to Benjamin, if you ask anyone anywhere in the United States, ‘what do you do if your clothes catch on fire’ they will tell you, ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll.’ But ask them ‘what do you do if you are drowning’ and you’ll most often get silence and blank stares.

Since June 2011, the GLSRP has performed 335 Great Lakes Water Safety Presentations in 7 of the 8 Great Lakes states; 166 of those occurred in 2016 and it has plans for a lot more in 2017.

In schools today there are fire drills, tornado drills, active shooter drills, and even earthquake drills, but very little water safety education.

YET more school aged children will likely die drowning each year than in fires, tornadoes, school shootings, and earthquakes combined. Combined! 

A Water Safety School Curriculum is the fastest approach to reach the largest audience and make a significant impact in the shortest amount of time.  The curriculum targets elementary students, Junior High students, High School students, parents of each age group, and trainers of the curriculum.

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project will be presenting, “Compassionately Addressing the Stigma of Drowning,” April 13  at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s annual conference in Pittsburg, PA and April 20th at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium’s annual conference in Sheboygan, WI.


The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is about saving lives.  It is a nonprofit 501c3 corporation that is a Chapter of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA).


  1. Tracks the Great Lakes drowning statistics (536+ drownings since 2010)
  2. Performs “Great Lakes Water Safety” presentations and trainings (Over 335 in 7 of the 8 Great Lakes states since 2011)
  3. Works with family and friends of Great Lakes drowning victims to advocate water safety.
  4. Hosts Open Water Surf Lifeguard and First Responder In-service training

Mission: To eradicate drownings by being the leader of Great Lakes water safety by providing training, public preparedness, and public awareness.

Vision: Everyone in the Great Lakes region, nationwide and worldwide, is knowledgeable, engaged and proactive in water safety with an emphasis on the Great Lakes region.


  1. WGN Chicago’s Very Own segment, “Man makes water safety education his life’s passion”
  2. Dave Benjamin’s drowning accident and ‘Because I said I would’ water safety promise video
  3. John & Kathy Kocher’s “Gentle Giant” ‘Because I said I would promise video.

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