Michigan residents are being reminded of safety steps to take when boating, kayaking, canoeing and swimming amid high water levels across the state.

Recent rainy weather conditions mean that many lakes, rivers and streams in the state are experiencing higher than normal water levels. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging boaters, anglers and others to keep enjoying the water, but to also be aware of safety measures and local watercraft controls. Lt. Todd Szyska DNR law enforcement supervisor for southeast Michigan, says high water levels can cause flooding, deep water and strong currents, which can also increase the amount of debris floating on the water and under the surface.

He says residents need to be mindful of boating laws and area watercraft controls as they vary between regions, and what is considered harmless in one body of water could cause unsafe conditions in another. Szyska also encourages those participating to be aware of their surroundings, especially as overflowing water onto certain docks near a marina, or another structure with electrical power running to it, poses to the risk for electric shock drowning (ESD). ESD occurs when a person comes into contact with an electrical current in the water that can be caused by faulty wiring from boats, docks or other structures with electrical power running to it.

Szyska says an important measure residents can take to stay safe is knowing the area by utilizing maps or a boat’s charting features. He also encourages kayakers and canoers to wear life jackets and to be aware of fast-flowing water, which is a result of high water levels. He adds that higher levels can make it more challenging for individuals to go under low-hanging obstacles. For additional safety tips and information about watercraft controls and access sites, visit the link below. (DK)