Hansen bill would help to promote an increase in beach safety

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LANSING—State Sen. Goeff Hansen introduced legislation on Wednesday that would help to promote a reduction in the number of fatalities on Michigan beaches.

Senate Bill 265 would promote steps to increase the availability and accessibility of safety and rescue equipment at shorelines across the state by no longer restricting a community’s placement of such equipment to public bathing beaches.

This means that access to safety and rescue equipment would be available not only to swimmers but to boaters, kayakers, paddle boarders, anglers and others as well.

“Michigan is home to the world’s largest quantity of fresh water, consisting of 11,000 lakes, 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and thousands of miles of rivers and streams,” said Hansen, R-Hart, chairman of the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee. “Too many deaths and preventable accidents occur in these waters. SB 265 will reduce these numbers.”

According to the National Weather Service Current Incident Database, there have been a total of 144 fatalities and 307 rescues on the Great Lakes alone since 2002, with many of the victims ranging between the ages of 10 and 25. A large number of these incidents occurred on waters without any beach safety equipment.

“Many people who attempt to assist a victim often drown because of a lack of a lifejacket or other safety equipment,” Hansen said. “This measure will provide equipment both for those experiencing distress in the water and those assisting them.”

Hansen said that SB 265 would provide greater opportunities for equipment to be placed in areas under local jurisdiction depending on the goals and consensus of each community. The bill would make the providing and maintaining of rescue equipment on public beaches a government function, and that municipalities exercising this function would be entitled to governmental immunity.

SB 265 has been referred to the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee.