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2020 breaks record for drownings on Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan, October 4, 2020. (WLUK){p}{/p}
Lake Michigan, October 4, 2020. (WLUK)

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GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Lake Michigan saw an influx of people enjoying the water this summer, and with that came a significant increase in drownings.

Northeast Wisconsin U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Public Affairs Officer Kevin Osgood says this year is unlike the others.

"Things are different. People are doing different things this year," Osgood said.

Osgood believes that the increase in drownings on Lake Michigan could be due to more activity out on the water.

"With swimming pools closed for this very unique year that we have, people think, well, we can go to the beach just as easy. Well the beach and a swimming pool are two completely different things," Osgood said.

53 people have drowned in Lake Michigan so far this year.

That's five more drownings than all of last year according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

It's more than double what it was seven years ago.

"Most of the drownings on the Great Lakes happen on Lake Michigan," Osgood said.

Osgood says people often encounter strong currents while swimming.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2020, Osgood says the lake only gets more dangerous as the weather gets colder.

"As water cools down and eventually become solid, the dangers increase. I think we need to be aware of that," Osgood said,

Looking ahead to cooler weather, Osgood suggests having all of the necessary equipment you need to stay safe.

"Wearing a life jacket will extend that, you'll be able to survive longer and hopefully be rescued," Osgood said.

Osgood says to always prepare for the worst.

"Have what you need out there in case something goes terribly wrong because you don't want to think about it too late," Osgood said.

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The previous record for Lake Michigan drownings was 49 in 2012.

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