Great Lakes Water-Related Hazards

In the Great Lakes, swimmers don’t have to worry about things like stinging jellyfish or tides. However, it is important to be aware of a variety of hazards like dangerous currents, extreme storms and possible floods, harmful algal blooms and boater safety. The best way to combat these dangers is to be prepared and know how to respond. This page provides an overview of the most common hazards encountered in the Great Lakes. To learn more, follow the specific links below.

Dangerous Currents

The Great Lakes produce currents that are sometimes dangerous to swimmers. Rip currents and channel (or longshore) currents are the two types of hazardous currents swimmers are most likely to encounter. The key to survival is learning what to do if you or someone else is caught in a current.

See: Dangerous Currents

Trap nets

Don’t Get Trapped

The Great Lakes support vibrant commercial fisheries. However, some of those fisheries use nets in open waters, which can be potentially dangerous if they get tangled with a boat. Be prepared by learning how to identify and avoid fishing nets.

See: Know Your Nets

High water

Water Levels and Weather Events

With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, lake levels have a vast impact on Michigan’s coastal communities and economies. Rapidly changing water levels and extreme weather events can present specific hazards.

See: Climate and Weather