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  • WXYZ Detroit 7 Action News

    Macomb County Sheriff's Marine Division shares water safety tips

    By Sarah Michals, Brian Schwartz,

    24 days ago

    Tragically we have seen two drownings in southeast Michigan this Memorial Day weekend.

    On Saturday a child drowned at the Holly Recreation Area just 10 feet from the shore. Also at Galloway Lake in Auburn Hills, a 28-year-old drowned.

    In light of the danger 7 News Detroit spent Memorial Day on Lake St. Clair with the Macomb County Sheriff's Office Marine Division learning about the most common safety mistakes on our waters.

    Within 20 minutes of being on the water, Lieutenant Gary Wiegand and the team came across someone who needed help.

    They informed us that it happens much more often than you'd think, any kind of danger on the water needs to be taken seriously.

    "If you’re 6 feet tall, it doesn’t take much more than 6 feet of water to drown," said Wiegand. "It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 feet deep or 100 feet deep, over your head is over your head."

    On average more than 100 people a year die on our Great Lakes, and that's not factoring in our inland lakes or pools.

    "It’ll be a beautiful 85-degree day, with little to no wind, the people will stop their boat and they’ll want to go swimming, and they won’t think that they have to anchor the boat, and the next thing you know that boat drifts away from those people in the water," warned Wiegand.

    Being educated on water safety can be a matter of life and death.

    Wiegand said they've sadly already had a drowning on Lake St. Clair this year, "If there was a life jacket in play, I don’t think that accident would have occurred. One way that people can almost guarantee that they will not drown, is if they are wearing a personal flotation device."

    We asked Lake St. Clair boater John Adamo what he has seen as the greatest danger on our local waters.

    He's been boating about 30 years and said; "Probably the biggest thing is they're going too fast. If there’s a lot of boats out there, and if they have been having a good time at a party, that makes things worse."

    Adamo said he keeps the proper safety gear on his boat and stays away from big crowds out of an abundance of caution.

    Safety tips from Wiegand for anyone swimming or boating include:

    • Watch out for reckless behavior from others
    • Never swim alone
    • Have a life jacket to match each person's size and age on a boat
    • Have a sober boat driver
    • Have a way to communicate with people off shore
    • Have a proper understanding, as well as respect, for water depths and currents

    "If you’re short a life jacket, a lot of times we’ll give somebody a life jacket," said Wiegand. "So we really want everyone to come out on the water and enjoy themselves and stay safe. We’re not looking to make an arrest, write a ticket, or ruin someone’s weekend. We just want to make sure at the end of the day everyone makes it back to shore and makes it home safe."
    If you find yourself in a dangerous situation on the water, call 911.

    Dispatch can track your phone to your location to come help you.

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