Milwaukee Water Safety Expo, 108 Great Lakes drownings in 2022

More than 100 people drowned in the Great Lakes in 2022, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. At the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center, kids and parents learn about life jackets, rescue rings and more so that every memory made on the water can be a good one.

On the edge of Lake Michigan, Teresa Coronado shares a message she hopes will click with anyone who hears it.

"Even if you think, 'I'm a great swimmer, it's fine if it's near me,' if you fall in the water, it's not near you anymore, and it's not useful to you," said Coronado. 

Milwaukee Water Safety Expo

The Milwaukee Community Sailing Center organized a Water Safety Expo Sunday, May 21 that was full of safety tips and demonstrations to prepare anyone for the worst with water.

"Our biggest mission is recreational boating safety," said Robert Koebert. "This time of year, people starting to get out on the water. The weather's starting to turn nice, and people are somewhat…forgetful."

Milwaukee Water Safety Expo

The reminders start with life jackets. Koebert pointed out drownings on the Great Lakes and other bodies of water tend to have a common denominator.

"Personal flotation devices do no good if they're not worn," said Koebert. "People get pretty complacent when the water's kinda flat, and it looks pretty calm out there."

When the water's cold early in the season, even the best swimmers can struggle. 

Milwaukee Water Safety Expo

"The more knowledge we can give, the more things we can pass around that people are going home and sharing it with their communities, so when they arrive at the lakefront, they're already safer," said Coronado.

Children's Wisconsin encourages parents to pick a designated watcher when kids are in the water, kind of like a designated driver for a night out. That way, you always have someone ready for a rescue if need be.