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9 killed in drowning incidents across Great Lakes over holiday weekend

Lake Erie, Angola, NY
File Photo
Lake Erie in Angola is a favorite waterfront site.

Nine people drowned in the Great Lakes over Labor Day weekend, resulting in the deadliest Labor Day weekend since the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project began tracking drownings in 2010.

"People don’t look at drowning as a public health issue," said GLSRP Co-founder Dave Benjamin. "They look at it as a recreational issue."

Benjamin said there also is a stigma against drowning incidents, as people often blame the victim. He, himself, had a close call while surfing in Lake Michigan a few years ago, even though he always considered himself a strong swimmer.

"I had a bad wipe-out and a non-fatal drowning incident that I was pretty lucky to survive," he said. "I realized that just simple information could probably help."

Benjamin said the best thing you can do if you are struggling in water is to go against all of your instincts: don’t panic, don’t struggle, try to deeply inflate your lungs and float.

So far there have been 91 confirmed drownings in the Great Lakes this year.

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