PORTER | With the warming weather, many people begin to return to the shores and waters of Lake Michigan to enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities.
While engaging in summer activities, officials at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore want to remind people that conditions on Lake Michigan can quickly change from calm and inviting to rough and dangerous with little or no warning.
Beachgoers should remember that north winds create dangerous conditions. Steep, uneven waves have quickly overcome even the most experienced swimmers. People are easily knocked off of sandbars into deeper water, according to IDNL officials.
Breaking waves and whitecaps on the lake are an indication that it is too dangerous to swim. Wave conditions of over three feet are the leading cause of drowning along the beach. When the waves are crashing on the beach, stay on the beach.
The use of U S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation devices is recommended.
This summer, National Park Service rangers will patrol Lake Michigan, watching for unsafe and unlawful boating, according to IDNL officials. Operating a boat in an unsafe manner or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs puts everyone on the lake in danger. Persons operating a boat under the influence are subject to arrest, fines and jail time.
All boaters are responsible for being familiar with all applicable regulations. Visit www.in.gov/dnr for information on state boating regulations.
Always leave a float plan with someone on land that can follow up if you do not return in time. Ensure you have enough floatation devices on board.
The National Park Service has regulations pertaining to safe boating within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The boundary of IDNL extends 300 feet into Lake Michigan and includes the areas in front of the towns of Beverly Shores, Porter, Dune Acres and Ogden Dunes.
Powerboats may not be launched from the beach, but they may stop and anchor outside of buoyed areas.
Hand-powered boats (kayaks and canoes) may be launched and recovered from any beach except the swim area at West Beach.
While personal watercraft (jet skis, waverunners) are legal to operate on Lake Michigan, their operation within the national lakeshore is a violation of federal law.
For more information about park regulations and maps of the national lakeshore, visit www.nps.gov/indu/parkmgmt/lawsandpolicies.htm.