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Berrien County holding water rescue and emergency drill at Silver Beach

Silver Beach// WSBT 22

It's the time of year when thousands of you head to the beach. According to the Great Lakes Surf and Rescue Project, 2017 has been the deadliest year for the start to drowning season.

Lifeguards there are working hard to keep swimmers safe. Lifeguards say they need practice to make sure they can get you out of trouble.

They teamed up with the sheriff's department, the Coast Guard, and EMS, all ready to save lives.

"Practice makes perfect, and so if this ever did occur we would be able to handle the situation and know what to do because we've seen each other's faces. We know who each other are, just helps us be better at our jobs,” said head life guard Haley Smoot.

Lifeguards and coast guardsmen practiced two rescues Monday, one on the beach and one in the water.

Boatswain Mate Brigitte Baskin says she hopes these drills are the only time she uses her rescue skills.

"We don't ever want to come out, but we're always ready to come out,” Baskin said.

That's why first responders want you to know the dangers. They say Lake Michigan is just as dangerous as any ocean.

"It's unpredictable. Everything up here is wind driven. With that being said, depending on the wind speed is how are waves are going to react,” Baskin said.

Those waves can knock you over. You might even get pulled away from shore by an underwater rip current.

“A lot of people panic and try to swim toward the shore, but the best thing to do is to swim parallel to the shore,” Smoot said.

Baskin says if you see someone struggling don't be afraid to call for help.

“We are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We don't like to come out to distress cases, but we will be here at any time,” Baskin said.

Smoot says if you're headed to the beach take a buddy. The more eyes you have on your friends and family the better.

She says that's especially important for small kids who can more easily be knocked over by a big wave.

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