Tourists Ignore Park Points Red Flags

By KBJR News 1

July 4, 2012 Updated Jul 4, 2012 at 5:08 PM CST

Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- No swimming is advised for all of the beaches lining Park Point until further notice. Dangerous weather conditions and rip currents have the Duluth Fire Department issuing Red Flag warnings for the point, which means swimming is not recommended.

That didn't stop people from taking a dip in the big lake on the Fourth of July.

Like the Woehler family from St. Paul; rough seas didn't detour them from swimming in Lake Superior.

"It's cold at first but you get used to it. The waves are really big and fun to swim out there," said ten-year-old Monica Woehler.

"It was really nice, it was kind of cold but the waves were good and you got used to it," her older brother Jack said.

For tourists visiting the northland, it is nice and fun to brave big waves on the big lake, and it's easy to overlook the red flags on Park Point. They warn swimmers that the water is not safe and swimming is not advised.

"Its dangerous because you can't always tell when a rip current is present and if you happen to get caught in a rip current it can very easily take you away from shore a long ways," Duluth Assistant Fire Chief Erik Simonson.

It's happened multiple times this week.

"Our last shift we had two calls on Park Point. People were caught in rip currents and being pulled away from the shore," said Simonson.

Those people were lucky; if you don't know how to escape a rip current, the consequences can be deadly.

"There generally not very wide so if you swim parallel to the shore, it only takes a minute or two to get out of the current."

The undertow is strong and difficult to spot and on a day where the beaches are packed and the water is rough, it's better to be safe than sorry.

"There were really big waves but it's still really fun, you just kind of go out there and the waves just carry you back," said Jack Woehler.

Because sometimes the waves don't carry you back.

The Red Flag's mean that swimming is not advised but not illegal. Park Point now has a website where you can see the current risk of swimming at http://www.parkpointbeach.org/

Zach Vavricka

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