Water safety tips on local radio station

We live near Lake Michigan and I just wanted to share a couple of local water safety broadcasts…

One starts with a young person saying “I just didn’t know. I didn’t know there were rip currents in the lake. I almost died. I didn’t know there was something called Flip, Float, and Follow just like Stop, Drop and Roll. Well now I know.”

I also hear a message from a cheerful officer explaining a few safety tips like keep your flotation device within reach (instead of stored) and have an emergency plan and he ends by saying “we just want you to respect the water and each other and enjoy the lake” and adds that their primary mission is education, not enforcement.

==> I really admire both approaches. No lectures or threats, just being down to earth and helpful.


I hadn’t heard of Flip, Float, and Follow, so looked that up. Here is what I found:


A step in the right direction. Public service announcements almost always ignore the dangers of cold water temperatures. Dress for immersion and wear a PFD.

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Thanks for the follow-up Peter. The local radio message did explain that Flip and Float is to calm down and save energy and then Follow a safe path to shore. And the key to floating is to fill your lungs on the inhale but not to exhale completely.

I am a strong swimmer and I was recently surprised at how much less buoyant I was in a cold
freshwater lake vs ocean salt water. I haven’t spent much time in fresh water the last couple decades. I also felt my feet did not paddle as well wearing booties filled with water.

I think the education approach is more effective because I noticed during Covid that the German government always came from a place that seemed like they genuinely cared (vs filling skate parks with sand and giving mandates)

The social contract and public health messaging is well studied and the literature is rich. It’s fairly accepted that coercive public health messaging is counterproductive IMO.

Once the hand is overplayed people become resistant, in many cultures and it’s geographical also.

Yes, I think that the warm tone of the local messages (as though people really care about you) is one of the main reasons I felt the messages were surprisingly effective.

As far as your booties making it noticeably more difficult to swim I think that’s another REAL risk factor that many people may not be aware of…any loose clothing is like dragging a sea anchor. There was one swimming test I could not pass when wearing a T-shirt and I remember swim team members wearing T-shirts during practice just for the increased exercise.

The prevailing winds come from the west so waves tend to come directly into our local beaches on the east side of the lake and create rip currents which may be 5 mph and can easily get a swimmer in trouble. This time of year there are 1 or 2 drownings per week.

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Dress for immersion and wear a PFD is good advice for paddlers and might be good advice for all the beachgoers if there was any chance of anyone wearing a PFD. I think our local messaging is properly focused on our local realities and what kills people this time of year is primarily swimmers getting overwhelmed along with a few powerboat accidents where people drown even though they have flotation devices stored on their boat.

I was very surprised and to be honest, it’s what convinced me to wear my PFD. I’m just saying if someone had mentioned that “be sure you know what it feels like in clothes and shoes” it would have got my attention more than a patronizing lecture.

The Marines have to swim in boots and camies and I had never heard much about it. I felt it was a whole nother ball of wax and when I went to remove them, I was sinking like a rock :laughing: being used to salt water.
(I was shooting underwater near the shore which dropped off)