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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
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My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

New lifeguard program makes swimming safer

Summer has come and gone and school is back in session, but many college students are still enjoying Marquette’s gorgeous beaches and of course, the lake.

Lake Superior is just a short walk away from NMU’s campus and is not as safe as you would think.

Many students enjoy taking a dip in the months of summer and continue to use the lake well into the fall.

Be it swimming, kayaking or paddleboarding, many community members and students are taking advantage of the lake’s calming waves.

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What many do not know is that Lake Superior also has her negatives as well as positives. Sometines the lake can be a hazard instead of a hangout.

While swimming in any body of water can be dangerous, Lake Superior has its own level of danger. Marquette has decided to bring in the fire department to improve the lifeguarding program.

This giant body of water is very powerful, causing quite a few areas, such as Picnic Rocks, to be deemed unsafe due to strong rip tides and currents that have caused 13 deaths since 1961.

Drownings have caused the surrounding community to become aware of the various places that pose a risk to swimmers.

Due to these deaths, safety precautions have been installed at various beach locations around Marquette, including signs, additional lifeguard stands, life ring stations, a flag system and safety pamphlets are given out to new students coming to NMU.

The safety of the public is a very important aspect of Marquette’s community.

With a large number of tourists visiting the area every year, the city decided it was time to improve various safety systems along the shores of Superior.

City management made the decision this year to redesign the lifeguard training procedures and other safety measures with the help of the local fire department so that the beach can remain a safe place for citizens to swim.

This overhaul of the lifeguard program included adding jet skis for faster transportation to people who need to be rescued, radio communications to police and fire departments to increase the speed in which rescue vehicles can arrive to the sceneand more intensive training for lifeguards to make sure they are fully prepared to save lives.

For people new to the area, this is a fantastic thing. Having highly trained lifeguards on the beach allows them to ensure that tourists or new students don’t find themselves swimming in an area that could endanger them.

Many of the drowning victims at Picnic Rocks have been from out of town, so it is important that even with the signs in place, that these students have an extra reminder not to swim around the rocks, and if they do find themselves in a bad situation, they are more likely to be rescued.

The fire department already saves lives and promotes safety around town, so arguing that it was a bad decision to improve Marquette’s safety seems kind of silly.

It may be harder to be hired as a lifeguard, but in the end if the rules and regulations are stricter, the citizens are going to be safer.

It’s another great thing for families that live in the area. Parents already have a huge responsibility of watching possibly multiple children on the beach.

Having watched small children before, I know that having a trained eye helping keep watch allows for a more enjoyable, stress-free trip to the shore.

Being a decent swimmer myself, I wouldn’t think I’d personally need to be saved by a lifeguard.

Breaking away from the pull of a rip tide or current isn’t a matter of skill, it’s a matter of being knowledgeable in how to escape.
If someone is ever caught in a rip tide-current it is valuable to know how to escape, even if a lifeguard is in shouting distance.

The most important thing is do not try to swim back to the shore. A rip tide does not drag a person under water but brings a swimmer away from the shore, so it is best to swim with the current rather than against it.

Always remain calm and if you cannot swim very well, try to float with the current until it dies out.

Then you can safely return to shore by swimming diagonally towards the beach, and away from the current.

Two USOEC athletes over the past few years have drowned near Picnic Rocks; the power of the lake is not something to take lightly.

I see it as a great thing for these newly hired workers to be more knowledgeable in the many ways to save a drowning victim and being trained on how to escape properly from rip tides if needed.

The addition of jet skis and radio equipment also allows fast transportation and communication to police and fire departments to ensure proper treatment quickly to those who need to be rescued.

Even with beach season being officially over and the guards being currently off duty for weekdays, the added safety and new training for the lifeguards was probably one of the best decisions the city could have made.

As the weather shifts, the direction and pull of the current changes along with it, it is the perfect time for Marquette to redesign their lifeguard program.

Lake Superior can be dangerous and swimming is a fun, leisurely activity that everybody should feel safe doing.

I have a feeling these shores will become safer under the watchful eye of Marquette’s very own fire department.

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