COUNTY CONNECTIONS: Summer SafetyMay 27, 2022 10:48AM ● By Laura Durenberger
by Pat Eliasen, Cook County Sheriff - May 27, 2022
The North Shore summer is quite possibly one of the most spectacular experiences you may ever have. The scenic beauty is breathtaking when you start with a view of the blue water of Lake Superior meeting the rocky shoreline and move your vision up the green hills. I have often said, there is not a more beautiful place in the summer than Cook County.
With the beauty, and the many opportunities for vacation and exploration, comes the practical part of the equation, and safety is the common denominator. To say Cook County is busy in the summer would not be an adequate description of the considerable population explosion and substantial amount of people just passing through. Having fun needs to be tempered with an understanding of limitations and a finite number of resources for response to emergency situations.
Some of the safety concerns that should be noted are traffic, boating, swimming, confrontation between people, confrontation between people and animals, and injuries in the wilderness.
There is usually some form of road work being done anywhere in the State of Minnesota during the summer months. Please be mindful when you are traveling through these areas for workers and other motorists. Obey the speed limits mainly for safety reasons, but also because the fines are doubled in a work zone. Other factors to consider while traveling the roads in Cook County are cyclists, pedestrians and animals. Keep your attention on the road, even though the sights can be quite magnificent.
Many people take part in all forms of water sports, including but not limited to, power boating, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing and swimming. Please know the boating laws for all activities in which you plan on participating. These can be found here, if you cannot download a copy, many of the gas stations and/or bait shops, resorts, campgrounds and public safety officials may have some. Safety is the main concern for everyone while on the lakes or rivers, so please practice wearing of personal flotation devices (PFDs), looking out for others, being cognizant of the weather conditions, and not drinking alcoholic beverages if you are operating motorized watercraft.
The North Shore also has an abundance of rivers with spectacular waterfalls and swift-moving water. Many people choose to take a swim in the rivers, but please be aware that this activity can be very dangerous. In the pools where it is deep enough to dive, there are many hazards at the bottom including trees and their roots that have washed into the rivers during times of immense runoff, items from road constructions such as concrete and metal, and sometimes even household objects such as appliances and furniture. These items can be dangerous for swimmers by causing injury and even worse if you get snagged and have difficulty getting out. Currents and the water pressure from waterfalls can also be very unsafe when swimming in rivers.
Confrontation between each other is something that can happen when people are on tight schedules, are attempting to manage others under their charge, do not respect the rights of others, and are faced with surprises or changes to plans. If you find yourself in a situation where tempers may flare, take a minute to cool off before saying or doing something that will have a negative outcome for your day.
Confrontation between people and animals is something that can easily happen in this area where civilization backs up directly to the wilderness.
There are all kinds of animals in this area, and they need to be treated as wild, not as pets. Although an animal may seem friendly, you have no idea how it may react when confronted by a human. Animal injuries can be very painful and may require significant medical attention, so the best advice is to observe from a distance, but do not harass the animal. A very unfortunate situation happened a few years ago involving a scared bear cub in downtown Grand Marais. In attempts to photo the bear, it was driven into the harbor where it eventually drowned due to the pressure of people.
Lastly, if you are entering the wilderness, please make attempts to be somewhat self-sufficient. If you are injured while away from civilization, the time it takes rescuers to provide help can be quite significant. Do not worry, we will always respond to calls for help, but our resources can be limited and pulled in many directions at once. Plan accordingly, and talk to some of the outfitters for advice on safety equipment before making the trek into the back country.
We want everyone to enjoy the area, have fun, make memories, and come back. We will be here when you need us, and we wish you all a wonderful summer.
County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.