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Video powerful reminder of lake's danger

• Jun 8, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Last week, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Coast Guard, along with the Holland Department of Public Safety, gathered at Holland State Park to promote a cooperative public service announcement video.

The video was created to show the dangers of swimming during red flag conditions.

It shows three teens approaching a violent Lake Michigan. One teen notes the red flag, and another agrees they should stay out of the water. The third scoffs at them and heads out into the surf.

The video cuts to the first teen dialing 911 as her friend disappears in the waves.

Local law enforcement springs into action, with boats and helicopters rushing to the scene and dive team members entering the water for a search.

The video ends a year later, with two of the teens releasing red balloons into the air in memory of their friend.

The message is crystal clear — when there’s a red flag flying, stay out of the water. Don’t give in to peer pressure. Don’t disregard the warnings as petty. Don’t assume that because you’re a strong swimmer that the rules don’t apply to you.

When there’s a red flag flying at our Lake Michigan beaches, please stay out of the water.

If you ignore these warnings, you’re not only putting your own life at risk, but also the lives of those — both civilian and life-saving officials — who will attempt to save you.

The video concludes with this blunt message: Red flag = stop. Stay out. Stay alive.

Watch the video — it’s available at grandhaventribune.com. It’s a poignant reminder of the power of Lake Michigan, and the importance of heeding the warnings of a red flag.

Our state parks use a flag system to show water conditions. A green flag means go — although swimmers are reminded to pay attention to changing conditions. A yellow flag means take caution — watch for dangerous currents and high waves. A red flag means stop — stay out of the water.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Mark Brooky. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

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