Reaction from our August 13 water issue
To the Editor,
Your recent edition covering the drowning of Jule Kovar was thought-provoking reporting at its best. For too long, safety at Grand Bend’s main beach has been an issue. While studies and reports are highly commendable, common sense might be a good way to start.
The flags flying from the lifeguard posts look like a piece of rag someone left on the beach and can only be seen when you are within a few feet of the chair. In one case, the flag showing the safety level for swimming is completely obscured by a Canadian flag flying from the same site. While nationalism is commendable, the only flag that should be flying is the one related to water safety. In addition, two of the four lifeguard posts are usually unmanned. Both are on the borders of the beach: one close to the pier where Jule was drowned, and the other at the Oakwood end where the most recent tragedy occurred.
Signs indicate that the beach is supervised; they should be revised to read “ Supervised Occasionally”. My adult children recently bodysurfed with life jackets and were rightly asked to get out by a lifeguard when the waves became dangerously high. To their surprise they were advised to return after 6 p.m. when the guards would be gone for the night. How responsible is that?!
A flagpole should be erected on the beachhouse roof and large coloured flags purchased to indicate swimming safety. These could be seen as people approach the beach; when a red flag is flying, local merchants might even benefit should families choose to stay away from the water. Lifeguards should either be on duty at all four posts from morning until dusk or the sign should indicate that the beach is not supervised. Finally, the water surrounding the pier should be cordoned off to prevent access to swimmers.
These suggestions could be put into effect immediately without costly studies and reports. We all know the tragedies that have occurred in the past few years, let’s do what we can now to make our beach safe.
To the Editor,
I would like to comment on the lifeguard issue because it just goes to prove that Grand Bend lifeguards are doing a wonderful job. I do feel for the families who have lost people due to drowning. You could sit down day after day to try to figure out how to improve the safety of people. If parents could be there every minute of the day to protect their children, they would be, but we all know that is not possible.
People need to take responsibility for their own actions. Leaving life rings on the beach after hours is not the right thing to do because people who come to Grand Bend only have one thing on their minds: drinking and having a good time. They have little respect for people’s property; they steal things just for the fun of it. If there is no lifeguard on duty then it’s up to you to decide whether you want to take the chance to go in the water. We can’t expect lifeguards to be on duty 24-7.