Safety tips for Michigan boaters as water levels remain high

Boaters reminded to know rules

An eastern aerial view of Lake Superior and U.S. 41 at Keweenaw Bay between Baraga and L’Anse in Baraga County. High water is evident with Lake Superior not far off the north side (left) of the highway. (Photo courtesy of Mark Riutta of Defined Visuals)

ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Mich. – As water levels remain high on many Michigan waterways, the Department of Natural Resources offered safety tips for boaters.

High water levels can cause flooding and strong currents that can lead to more debris floating in and under the surface of the water. It can also make swimming and controlling boats difficult, and alter routes in the water.

Boaters are reminded to know the local watercraft controls for the bodies of water they are using. Information about local watercraft controls, boating access sites and boating safety can be found here.

No wake rules are in effect in many bodies of water, and boaters are reminded to watch their speed to help prevent water from going on to docks.

"Our crews are noticing an increase in flooding to docks and piers with electrical connections,” said Chief Petty Officer Marcus Collison, the officer in charge at the Coast Guard Station Charlevoix. “We believe this may be a serious hazard to swimmers as we get deeper into summer."

Collison said electric shock drowning is always a hazard around marinas, piers and docks even when water levels aren't high.

Kayakers and canoers should also be aware of fast-flowing water that can result from increased water levels. It can also be harder to go under low-hanging obstacles.

State law requires that all vessels, including kayaks and canoes, have appropriate flotation devices available for every person on board.

“Don’t just take your life jacket – wear it,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, state boating law administrator. “Nobody expects to get into an accident, but unfortunately, they happen.”

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