Northlanders strive to make local beaches safer

By KBJR News 1

June 28, 2014 Updated Jun 28, 2014 at 6:55 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Park Point's beach is beautiful from the shore but danger sometimes lurks in the water.

The water is cold and sometimes nearly invisible, meaning rip currents come calling.

This is a water rescue along Duluth's Park Point last summer.

Retired nurse Diane Martinek got tired of scenes like this.

"I was concerned about the visitors that come to Duluth because they're not familiar with the undercurrent that we have," said Martinek .

Martinek is commander of Duluth's Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla, the civil part of Coast Guard Forces that promotes water safety.

This summer, she started a life jacket loaner program at the Park Point Beach House.

"I really got an excellent response from the YMCA who operate the beach house, from the City of Duluth and also from the American Legion Post 71 that donated money for the life jackets," said Martinek .

The life jackets are available in a large variety of sizes and Coast Guard Auxiliarists say there is no shame in using one.

"There's absolutely no shame. As a former life guard, swim instructor, water safety instructor and a paramedic, I can assure you that there's no shame in being safe," said Steve Rannenberg of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Of course, even with a life jacket, beach goers should stay out of the water when a rip current warning is out.

But, the members of "America's Volunteer Life–savers" tell us the loan of a life jacket could make the difference if those currents creep in while already out in the lake.

"It's just another option for us to reach out to people and let them know water safety is an important aspect of life in the Northland," said Rannenberg.

Right now, there are 16 life jackets available for checkout.

The sizes range from infant to adult.

Posted to the web by: Elsa Robins
erobins@kbjr.com