HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — As lakeshore communities continue to combat water safety issues, a new nonprofit is looking to make a difference by educating people.
West Michigan Water Safety Alliance plans to roll out its first wave of water safety ambassadors in Holland State Park at the end of August, according to Park Township Supervisor Howard Fink.
“The primary of the goal and effort of that organization is to educate folks out on the beach on the dangers of structural currents, the dangers of rip currents and just generally the dangers of swimming in Lake Michigan,” Fink said.
There have been 20 drownings in Lake Michigan this year, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. Over the past few summers, South Haven and Holland beaches have been particularly troublesome for swimmers and water rescues.
To incentivize people to get out of the water on red flag days, South Haven Ambassadors Program and Education has worked to highlight area businesses and deals on those days.
Fink said the group’s organizer has helped West Michigan Water Safety Alliance streamline its own ambassador program and education policy.
“The reality is, until we make a dent in changing the culture of the Holland area, where water education is a component of our psyche and of our culture, that is when we’re really going to have an impact on reducing the drownings and reducing the incidents on the water,” he said.
The alliance will focus on personal responsibility and education, both in schools and on the beaches.
“There’s always risks in the water, and in order to make a dent in the issue of water safety, we really need to focus on education,” Fink said.
You can learn more about West Michigan Water Safety Alliance by visiting the organization’s website.