With Marquette beaches officially closed for the season and the unofficial swimming season slowly winding down for the year, we can all breathe a little easier knowing that area beach safety efforts seem to be working.
Since the tragic summer of 2010, when four people drowned off Marquette shorelines, the city has taken a number of measures to help prevent more deaths - and it's worked. The end of this summer marks the second straight year without a drowning on our shores.
A long, warm summer brought many swimmers to Lake Superior. And despite being more crowded than ever, the beaches stayed safe.
More lifeguards and lifesaving stations, prominent buoys marking swimmg areas, rip current warning flags, along with an aggressive public information campaign - all have helped prevent any drownings so far this summer.
The city's Waterfront Safety Task Force was created in August 2010 to devise recommendations for making beaches in Marquette safer for the public. The plan was activated last summer and we concur with city officials who have credited the safety changes with being major factors in preventing deaths.
The Mining Journal has added its own efforts in this area - including a full-page water safety feature last season, ongoing beach safety updates on our news pages and daily front-page reminders. We hope these contributions have helped the safety effort in some small way.
We see the new beach safety routine becoming a part of our local culture - and that's a welcome change.
While the beach season is officially over, we're all hoping the warm weather lingers for a while. Though lifeguards will no longer be stationed at city beaches, beach warning flags will continue to be displayed through the end of the month. If the weather stays warm during September, lifeguards will be stationed at McCarty's Cove on the weekends.
We urge swimmers to continue to remember to use caution, check for warning flags and respect swimming area boundaries whether or not lifeguards are present. We've had a safe summer, now let's have a safe fall, too.