- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) - Drowning survivors and victims’ families are pushing for increased education on how to stay safe in Lake Michigan waters.

The Times of Munster (https://bit.ly/1bvoT0S) reports a group called the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project led a water safety conference Tuesday in Michigan City with educators, first responders and others. The group also teaches classes and works with families to promote water safety.

The group’s founder, Dave Benjamin, nearly drowned in December 2010 when he was surfing in Lake Michigan off the Portage coast. He battled waves and currents but managed to float on his back for 40 minutes before he was pushed to open water and made it to shore.

There’s a stigma about drowning, Benjamin said, with people often attributing blame to victims and parents. That leads people to think it can’t happen to them, he said.

Benjamin said schools need curriculum for water safety similar to tornado and fire drills. The group teaches that in water accidents, people should flip over on their backs, float and take the safest path out of the water.

“We have the curriculum,” he said. “We’re looking for funding to launch in the Great Lakes region and then launch it nationally.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Megan Dodson said it’s important to have a consistent message about water safety.

“People need to hear the same message being repeated multiple times from multiple resources so it becomes common sense, just like wearing a seatbelt,” Dodson said.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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