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Water safety lessons

Krystle Wagner • Jul 22, 2015 at 11:59 AM

For the second year, Mary A. White students learned about how to stay safe on the water. Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project Executive Director Bob Pratt and Beach Survival Challenge organizer Vicki Cech partnered for the Great Lakes Water Safety presentation.

Although schools hold drills for fires, tornados and other dangers, there is little education provided regarding water safety, Pratt said. Everyone knows how to stop, drop and roll in the event of fire, but they haven’t been given a plan in the event they are in a water emergency, he said.

Last year, 54 people drowned in the Great Lakes, according to his organization.

The students were encouraged to remember two rules: don’t panic, and know how to survive.

Students learned about rip currents, longshore currents and structural currents. Pratt told the students that, if they are being pulled by a current, to remember to “flip, float and follow.”

Pratt said everyone should learn how to swim, have equipment such as throw rings and lifejackets around at the beach, and have a safe response planned in the event of an emergency. He told the students that it’s important to wear the correct size lifejacket that is buckled.

Pratt said it’s “vitally important” to educate people about water safety.

“We live in a water wonderland, but along with that beauty is danger,” he said.

Since Cech’s son, Andy Fox, drowned in a rip current in 2003, she has worked to advocate for water safety. On June 20, teams will participate in the annual Beach Survival Challenge on Grand Haven’s shore.

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