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Experts Warn People About Dangers Of Going Into Lake Michigan Right Now

The weather is beautiful, but experts are warning people about going into Lake Michigan right now.

Between the cold-water temperatures and variable current patterns, people should definitely use caution, especially since it's too early for lifeguards, flag warnings, and the Michigan DNR's new ticketing system.

Lake Michigan might look inviting, especially when temperatures hit 70 and 80 degrees, but the water itself is still very cold and can cause hypothermia, according to Jamie Racklyeft with the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium.

"So, a lot of people would head to the beach enjoying the warm air and then jump in the water and it's surprisingly cold and it can take your life very quickly," said Racklyeft.

Changing currents can also contribute to even the strongest swimmers being dragged under.

Dave Benjamin with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project says the best thing to do if you're in this position, is to stay calm and float on your back until help arrives.

"An active drowning victim will submerge in less than 60 seconds once they hit that panic moment, so all the odds are against them with a cold water causes panic, being in water over your head causes panic…" said Benjamin.

These conditions are even more dangerous with it being too early for lifeguards or flag warnings.

But the Michigan DNR is putting a new ticketing system in place at State parks, for people who go in the water during hazardous conditions, such as an upcoming weather event, dangerous debris in the water, or if the waves are higher than 8 feet.

"We're looking for compliance, our goal isn't to write a bunch of tickets," said Ron Olson with the Michigan DNR. "We have many many rules that we have in the parks and this would be one more."

Olson says the goal is for this to be another tool to get people to use their best judgment because it could save a person's life.

"This is a big reminder for people to take, heed the warning and it doesn't take much when you wade into 47-degree water to realize it's pretty, pretty cold," said Olson.

The ticketing system will go into place at Michigan State Park beaches in the next 10 days.

The cost could be up to $500 a ticket... and law enforcement or park rangers will be enforcing the measure.

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