South Haven Beach Safety Flag Program Begins Saturday, May 15 With New Emphasis
On Saturday, May 15, the staff of South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) will start its annual program of flying safety flags at city beaches for the summer months with a new emphasis.
This year, in wake of the increase in water-related emergencies a year ago, SHAES and the City of South Haven, are implementing initiatives to better inform the public before heading to the beach, especially on red flag days.
The city's IT staff has developed a text-messaging system that will send alerts to mobile phones when flags are flying red.
"We want people to realize when the lake is too rough long before they arrive at our beaches," said SHAES executive director Brandon Hinz. "Unfortunately, the lake in its fury is so inviting that many people upon arrival at the beaches tend to disregard the red flags which are intended to signal they must to stay out of the water. We hope this messaging system will cause folks to decide not to head to the beach."
"There are so many other recreational opportunities in the South Haven area that folks don't need to feel homebound on red flag days," said City Manager Kate Hosier.
For example, the city opened a family-oriented splash pad near the South Beach last year. Among the numerous playgrounds in the city is the popular Kids Corner which overlooks Lake Michigan. The South Haven area has also become well known for its hiking and biking trails.
To subscribe to the free Beach Flag messaging system, send a text message with the word "Beaches" to 888777.
"In a return message you will receive the current beach flag postings and given the opportunity to sign up to receive messages whenever flags change to red," said Hinz.
The city's IT staff has also created a QR code that when scanned brings people to the Beach Flag Status website. The QR code will be displayed at local businesses and short-term rental houses, according to Hinz.
Lake Michigan conditions as determined by the National Weather Service are monitored by SHAES personnel. Beach warning flags are raised at the city's seven public beaches every day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. The flags are changed throughout the day if lake conditions change. The flags are either green, yellow or red based on the conditions.
"Our staff will be monitoring lake conditions more frequently than in the past," said Hinz. "We encourage the public visiting our beaches to keep an eye on the flags, especially when the lake is wavy."
A numbering system for the nearby beach flag poles and pier safety boxes has been developed to assist during a time of emergency as a point of reference.
The status of the flags beginning May 15 is also posted on the internet --
Link to SHAES Beach Safety website --