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Water Safety

Muskegon residents and visitors have access to 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, over 350 miles of river and streams, as well as 13 inland lake public swimming areas located on 11 of the 20 inland lakes.Lake Michigan is the third largest of the Great Lakes and ranks as the fifth largest lake in the world. Because of its size and geographical location, Lake Michigan often reacts to weather changes much more like an ocean than a lake; and water seekers should use the highest level of caution when swimming or boating in Lake Michigan.


Along the 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline are 3 state, 3 county, and 5 municipally owned public beaches; however, only a few have lifeguards or use the flag system to warn potential bathers of hazardous weather conditions such as high waves, rip currents, or thunderstorms. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80% of all rescues on U.S. beaches are related to rip currents (about rip currents).


Hoffmaster State Park Beach Pier Mona Lake Park

In addition to the potential hazards on Lake Michigan, local rivers and streams can be dangerous due to swift currents especially following significant rainfall. You can increase you and your family’s safety by following these recommendations:


Swimming Safety

  • Learn to swim.
  • Never swim alone. Always use the buddy system.
  • Always wear a life jacket, especially if you do not know how to swim well.
  • Stay out of the water on windy and wavy days.
  • Pay attention and obey all posted flag colors and beach signs.Some Lake Michigan beaches use a flag system to indicate current swimming conditions.


Beach Safety

  • Know the current beach conditions.
  • Protect your skin. Wear sunscreen with a protection factor of no less than 15.
  • Wear eye protection. Be sure to wear sunglasses that absorb at least 90 percent of UV sunlight.
  • Wear foot protection. Feet can get burned from the sand or cut from glass in the sand.
  • Drink plenty of water. Drinking water regularly and often will help your body stay cool in hot weather.
  • Watch for signs of heat stroke. Signs include hot, red, and dry skin; a change in consciousness; and a rapid weak pulse and shallow breathing. Call 911 and move the person to a cooler place if possible.


Boating Safety

  • Know the weather forecast before you go out and watch for changes in weather conditions.
  • Keep life jackets handy and do not make fun of passengers that want to wear them.
  • Tell someone where you are going and how long you plan to be gone.
  • Anchor your boat from the bow, not the stern.
  • Do not drink and drive.
  • Know your boat's load limit and do not exceed it.
  • Keep a safe distance from other boats and stay out of swim areas.
  • Do not exceed posted speed limits.
  • Take a safe boating course.


Pier Safety

  • Closely supervise children.
  • Life jackets should be worn by young children and non-swimmers.
  • Do not dive off of or swim around pier structures.
  • Stay off piers during high winds or when waves are washing over.
  • Avoid walking on wet and slippery areas.
  • Do not get close to the edge.
  • Do not run or climb on pier structures.


Rip Current Safety


To Learn More


Other Useful Information

Statewide Beach Advisories & Closures

Drowning Prevention (Safe Kids)

Swim Healthy, Swim Safely (CDC)

Swimmer's Itch Information