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GLIN==> New beach signs in English and Spanish warn swimmers to be aware of dangerous rip currents.

Title: New beach signs in English and Spanish warn swimmers to be
University of Michigan News Service
May 23, 2006
Contact: Elizabeth LaPorte, (734) 647-0767, elzblap@umich.edu
New beach signs in English and Spanish warn swimmers to be aware of dangerous rip currents.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Visitors to lakes Michigan and Superior this summer will notice new beach signs publicizing the dangers of rip currents---powerful currents that can develop in the Great Lakes and oceans.
Michigan Sea Grant is coordinating placement of the signs, produced in English and Spanish, in west Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. The new signs are designed to increase awareness of the dangers of rip currents by describing how to recognize them and how to escape if caught in a rip current.
"We want people have a good time, but be informed about the danger of rip currents," said Chuck Pistis, one of three Michigan Sea Grant educators facilitating the distribution of the new signs before this coming swimming season.
Michigan Sea Grant, which is administered at the University of Michigan, is a cooperative program between U-M and Michigan State University that promotes sustainability of the Great Lakes. In addition to providing beach signs, Michigan Sea Grant distributes rip currents brochures and maintains a Web page with information about rip currents.
Rip currents are narrow, fast-moving channels of water that move away from shore and are rarely more than 30 feet wide. They are powerful enough to sweep away even the strongest swimmers. Nationally, more than 100 people die annually from rip currents.
Experts believe a number of drownings in lakes Michigan and Superior probably happened because people panicked when a rip current pulled them from shore. Sea Grant, in cooperation with the NOAA National Weather Service, offers these tips to swimmers to break the grip of a rip current:
--Don't fight the current.
--Swim parallel to shore to get out of the current then head back to shore at an angle.
--If you can't escape, float calmly until the current slows.
--Call or wave for assistance if you need help.
Rip currents typically form at breaks in sandbars and also near structures, such as piers, regardless of weather conditions. Warning signs of rip currents may include:
--A channel of churning choppy water.
--A difference in water color.
--A break in the incoming wave pattern.
--Foam or debris moving away from shore.
Michigan Sea Grant is part of a network of 30 Sea Grant College Programs in coastal states throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit: http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/rip, call (734) 764-1118 or e-mail msgpubs@umich.edu.
To contact News Service

By fax: (734) 764-7084
By phone: (734) 764-7260
By mail: 412 Maynard, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1399
By Internet:  http://www.umich.edu/news
Elizabeth LaPorte
Fisheries Learning on the Web: www.miseagrant.umich.edu/flow
Michigan Sea Grant College Program
Communications Director & Education Co-Leader
Phone: (734) 647-0767
Address: 401 E. Liberty St., Suite 330, Ann Arbor, MI  48104-2298