By Jeremy Kienitz, MC Parks Recreation Director
Rip Currents and Beach Safety
Visitors come to Washington Park beach to enjoy the natural beauty of Lake Michigan’s coastline. Some enjoy the beach itself, while others enjoy sun bathing and sights such as the Lighthouse and Chicago skyline. Michigan City is very fortunate to have such a beautiful attraction and recreational area to spend the summer months with family and friends. As wonderful as it can be, Lake Michigan still presents a danger to those who visit in the form of rip currents.
Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They can occur at any beach with breaking waves, including Lake Michigan, and they can be deadly. Rip currents are particularly dangerous for weak or non-swimmers. Rip current speeds are typically 1-2 feet per second. However, speeds as high as 8 feet per second have been measured; this is faster than an Olympic swimmer. Thus, rip currents can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. The following tips could save your life.
- Swim at a lifeguard protected beach
- Never swim alone
- Be cautious at all times! If in doubt, don’t go out!
- Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify potential hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water.
- Stay at least 400 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
- Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.
If you are ever caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly. Never try to fight the current or swim against it as you will tire quickly and become fatigued. To remove yourself from a rip current swim parallel to shore. When out of the current swim at an angle, away from it, towards the shoreline.
Rip currents cause more than 100 deaths annually in the United States and cause 80% of all rescues by beach lifeguards. These statistics show the importance of always adhering to warnings and beach closings. The Washington Park Lifeguard Staff is available for information while on duty Memorial Day through Labor Day. Please take the opportunity to ask them questions about the conditions prior to entering the water. It will help keep you safe and could save your life!
The Michigan City Parks & Recreation Department announces its brand new program “Passport to Summer Fun”
Michigan City, IN (March 22, 2017) –“Passport to Summer Fun” is a new FREE program for kids from ages 1-12. Kids accompanied by their parents can pick up their free “passport” at the Michigan City Parks & Recreation Department (located in the lower level of City Hall).
There are 10 locations listed inside the passport for kids to visit. 7 of the locations are parks: Gardena, Hansen, Winding Creek Cove, Joe Hawkins, Pullman, Oak Hills, and Water Tower Park. At these locations, kids are asked to find the “passport” sign posted near the entrance of each park on a bollard (a small wooden pole), do the activity listed on the sign, and draw in the symbol in their passport for that particular park. There are challenge activities listed on the signs for those who want more of a challenge.
Two locations listed will issue a sticker to the passport holder once they complete the activity. At the Washington Park Zoo kids will receive an owl coloring sheet or an owl craft kit to complete at home along with their sticker. At the M.C. Municipal Golf Course kids will have an opportunity to sink a putt to receive their sticker. Upon completion of all 9 locations, participants will return their completed passports to the Park Office to receive their final “stamp” and pick up their completion prize. In addition, if they return their owl coloring page or owl kit, the Washington Park zoo will display their art work in the education center. Kids be sure to put your first name on your artwork so your family can see it when they visit the zoo.
This program runs through the end of October and all passports must be turned in by Friday, November 3rd to redeem prize. For more information, contact the Michigan City Parks & Recreation Department at 219-873-1506.
WHAT’S GOING ON AT BISMARCK HILL?
WHAT: An exciting restoration project. The Park Department, with funding through the Michigan City Redevelopment Commission, is conducting a restoration project on approximately 20 acres. You may hear chainsaws, see large piles of brush, and small controlled burn fires.
WHERE: Bismarck Hill, a set of three sand dunes encompassing approximate 30 acres just east of the Washington Park Zoo.
WHY: We want to bring the dune back to its native state. We have plans for adventure course attractions which will highlight the dune habitat and our coastal region while protecting this great natural resource in Michigan City.
WHEN: Now through late fall.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP: We have installed signs along Lake Shore Drive and Center Street reading “KEEP OUT: Wildlife Restoration Area.” Please respect the signs and stay out of the area while we complete this very sensitive and important work.
BENEFITS: Native communities provide substantial benefits; long-term reduced maintenance costs, carbon footprint reduction, improved soil stability, excess nutrient filtration, stormwater runoff reduction, aesthetic enhancement, and increased habitat diversity for insects, birds, amphibians, and mammals.