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

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Splash Into Summer Water Safety Expo

Sue Jennings,, 231-326-4751 

Splash into Summer at

the Sleeping Bear Dunes Water Adventure Expo!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) in partnership with area government agencies and private organizations is hosting a free water adventure expo on Saturday, June 17, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Platte Point, located at the end of Lake Michigan Road.

The “Splash into Summer: Water Adventure Expo” will include demonstrations, skills practice, exhibits, and more.  The expo is an event for youth and adults of all ages and is geared for those who swim or paddle in rivers, inland lakes, or Lake Michigan. Kayak and stand-up-board (SUP) demonstrations, mock capsize/self-rescue exercises, tips for selecting a life jacket, rip current and hypothermia recognition, and drowning survival strategies are among the event offerings. You will also be able to visit several stations and learn about potential hazards associated with Lake Michigan weather, prescriptions for water safety, life jacket fitting, and gear check lists. Face painting and other activities for kids will round out the Splash into Summer Water Adventure Expo.  Food will be available for purchase or visitors may pack a picnic lunch.

The event is hosted by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, in partnership with the American Canoe Association-Michigan Chapter, Benzie County EMS, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP), Lake Township Park, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Sea Grant, National Weather Service, Paul Oliver Hospital, U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, with funding support from the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes.  The event will be held at mouth of the Platte River, located at the end of Lake Michigan road. Head west off of M-22 on Lake Michigan road at the southern end of the park. The event is free. For more information contact Sue Jennings. (231) 326-4751.

“It is essential to know how to respond if you find yourself in an unplanned out-of-boat experience or a rip current,” Water Adventure Expo Chair and National Lakeshore Biologist Sue Jennings  said.

“As the water warms up and people enter the water, the event will serve as a great opportunity to hone skills and remind all skill levels about water safety and the importance of wearing a life jacket.

The event is intended to celebrate and brings awareness about various water sports. It’s all about “smart adventuring.”

Data collected by GLSRP reveals that there were 46 drownings in Lake Michigan last year. Between 2010-2016, 537 people have drowned in the Great Lakes. Each day in the U.S., 10 people die from drowning; two of those are children under the age of 14, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“Unfortunately water safety and drowning survival is not common sense, “Dave Benjamin, Executive Director of GLSRP. “Yet it’s not rocket science either. There is information available that is simple to remember—it just is not being efficiently or effectively delivered.”

The GLSRP teaches techniques for getting out of rip currents and recognizing drowning, and will be providing several clinics at the June expo.  Jennings believes “These incidents are largely preventable. Education, and awareness, along with wearing a life jacket is the key to saving lives.”

Planning for the event began last fall, on the heels of the season’s third drowning within the National Lakeshore, which claimed the life of twenty-one year old Tyler Spink of Kalkaska.  Jennings met with Tyler’s family often the during search and recovery operations, and in the weeks that followed Tyler’s accident, his family become steadfast advocates for implementing drowning prevention programs in the area.  Following conversations with the family, Jennings reached out to the GLSRP, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other agencies involved in public awareness and drowning prevention to gauge interest in helping to increase awareness about this growing epidemic.

“The enthusiasm for planning an event was astounding” Jennings said.   Michael Gray, State Director-American Canoe Association and a certified instructor trainer was glad to jump aboard.  With the number of drownings in the Great Lakes spiking and more people venturing out into the lakes, Gray knows it could be another bad year for drownings without an aggressive public education effort.  Wearing a properly fitting life jacket and knowing how to select the right craft for your water sports is must for a safe water sport season.”