The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

June 9, 2014

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: ODNR beach safety classes on tap

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced today that three beach safety and rescue classes will be offered in Lake and Ashtabula counties Thursday through Saturday.

The classes are being sponsored by the ODNR Office of Coastal Management in cooperation with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP).

“Safe and enjoyable recreation on Lake Erie is a priority for Ohio,” said Scudder Mackey, chief of the ODNR Office of Coastal Management. “Swimming in Lake Erie is not like swimming in a pool.  Currents formed by natural forces can create unpredictable conditions. We want Ohioans and visitors to know how to avoid potential hazards and how to respond in the event of an emergency.”

Rip currents, outlet currents and structural currents that form on Lake Erie can carry people away from shore out to open water. Many people exhaust themselves trying to fight the current by swimming into it toward shore. People caught in a current should let the current pull them out to open water, while trying to swim or float away from the current parallel to the shore.

Melissa Zirkle, mother of Jermaine, 13, who drowned after being pulled off shore by a current, contacted ODNR about sponsoring the beach safety classes and has helped organize the host locations.

“I didn’t know rip currents were possible in Lake Erie, I never realized until it was too late for my son,” Zirkle said. “Now I want to raise awareness and help others receive education about drowning prevention so they can safely enjoy the water.”

The beach safety class will teach techniques on what to do if you are caught in the various types of currents, how to recognize currents and hazards along the shore, what drowning looks like and how to safely rescue a swimmer.

The classes are free and are recommended for first responders, coastal residents, people who regularly go to the beach, lifeguards and people who frequently work along the shore and may be called upon to help during an emergency. Children are encouraged to attend the classes with an adult. Attendees do not have to enter the water and can observe the rescue portions of the training from the shore.

To register for a class, go to the GLSRP webpage: http://glsrp.org/classes.

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