High Water Levels Have Made Lake Erie More Dangerous Than Ever

The U.S. Coast Guard is advising Vermilion, Ohio residents that high water levels have made Lake Erie more dangerous than ever. There have had 64 drownings on the Great Lakes since January 1st. Cold water, rip currents, boating under the influence, boating without a lifejacket, not filing a float plan with someone on shore, not having signaling devices/EPIRBs/VHF radio are all contributing factors in these deaths.

The lake is dangerous all the time, and people underestimate it.

Last Monday morning a 57-year-old woman was rescued after spending more than 14 hours in the water after falling off her jet ski the night before. She likely survived because she was wearing a lifejacket. Friday morning, two men were rescued from their capsized boat. They were stranded for nearly 16 hours. Luckily, they were both wearing lifejackets and had a flashlight to signal to the helicopter crew.

The Coast Guard needs residents and visitors to be aware of the danger, and what you can do to prevent or lessen it. Know the conditions of the lake. Know the water temperature. Know the weather. And when you learn, share that knowledge with others. We can all contribute in saving lives by spreading information.

Here are suggestions for staying safe on Lake Erie:

  • Always wear a life jacket, with reflective tape, when you climb aboard a boat and go out on the lake.
  • When you are planning to go out on the lake, tell your spouse or friend specifically where you are going, and go there, so the Coast Guard knows where to look if you don’t return to shore on time.
  • Along with life jackets, have safety equipment aboard the boat such as flares, radios, cellphones and a backup cellphone battery or charger.
  • Teach your family members and friends how to run a boat radio, turn off a boat engine, and perform other common tasks.
  • Pay attention to the weather, which can turn ugly quickly in Lake Erie.