Chesterton Tribune

NPS owes visitors effective warnings of risk of death

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Voice of the People

The threshold level of protection I believe the National Park Service at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore owes its visitors is difficult to quantify. And it is even harder to reach compromise and satisfactorily define the appropriate protections needed.

I’ve said in a previous VOP post that: “government cannot be responsible for protecting the people from every potential hazard but the clash of people and danger is magnified at Porter Beach” which shares an entirely connected beachfront with the Indiana Dunes State Park.

It would likely not be practical to have lifeguards at all the National Park beaches. But the NPS needs to step up immediately to do a better job with warning systems more relevant to the day’s beach and water conditions.

So as not to be labeled one who offers no solutions when serving up complaints I’ll offer some ideas. There appears to be someone available in the NPS to alternate the ubiquitous Smokey Bear signs on Rt. 12 designating daily levels of fire threat from low to high, why not a warning system at the beaches to draw attention to the changing conditions there too? Red flags have been suggested or an activation system for red lights to warn when obvious rip current dangers are present.

I firmly believe the public also has an obligation to be informed and responsible about personal safety when enjoying all of the Nation’s parks. However, the information needed to assess dangers must be more obvious, accessible and tangible to be effective.

An ounce of prevention is not costly. But helicopters, boats, dive teams and the land rescue personnel needed for the frenetic effort that mercilessly becomes recovery to claim a body carries a high price. The dollars expended are a consideration but the emotional toll on families, the earnest rescue teams and the community at large is immeasurable.

Jamie Hogan



Posted 8/13/2008