44 / 34
      42 / 32
      40 / 32

      Group taking steps to boost beach safety

      The rescue of five teenagers from the cold waters of Lake Michigan Sunday is a reminder of how dangerous it can be to go out on the big lake when the waters are still frigid.

      It is also the reason why a northern Michigan group is pushing for safety changes to beaches.

      The Water Safety Network is made up of dozens of community leaders, and they have big plans to make people aware of water conditions.

      â??You may have a 90 degree day but you don't know how cold the water temperature is, and there are ways to find that out. There are some buoys that are operated but there's not a lot,â?? said Storm Team meteorologist Joe Charlevoix.

      In some cases satellites are used to measure the water temperature.

      Formed a few months ago, those in the Water Safety Network want that information to be at your fingertips.

      The group recently ordered signs that will be placed at four popular beaches in Grand Traverse County. Those locations have not yet been released.

      They will include a QR code that people can scan with a smart phone to find the latest water conditions.

      Park rangers at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore post water temperatures at their staffed stations.

      â??As much as you put up signs and do broadcasts sometimes people are so focused on just having a good time they don't see those, or they do see them and choose to disregard them,â?? said Tom Ulrich, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Deputy Superintendent.

      The Water Safety Network leaders say the signs, along with 38 rescue stations, are expected to be installed by the end of July.

      Similar efforts to keep swimmers safe have already started along US 2 in the Upper Peninsula and in the Muskegon and Holland area.

      â??Our overall vision is that we can expand along that coast and meet those regions so our whole coastline is addressed and have a universal look about our signs. So at least for a good part of the coastline and in inland lakes in this area you're going to see the same consistent signing. You're going to know what that means,â?? said Jennifer Ritter, MSU Extension Injury Prevention Coordinator.

      The group is looking for grant money to expand this effort and install signs and rescue stations in Benzie and Leelanau counties.