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Fire Department Warns Of Dangers Following Rescue

DUNKIRK — The Dunkirk Fire Department is reminding the public to use caution after a swimmer was rescued Sunday afternoon at Point Gratiot.

Fire Chief Michael Edwards noted the increase in calls for assistance on or near the cliffs at Point Gratiot. He pointed to Sunday’s multi-agency response after it was first reported that a swimmer had gone missing.

The swimmer was later found clinging to the rocks and had to be rescued by being hoisted to safety.

“Tragedy was averted on Sunday but the area being used for recreation is off limits in the interest of public safety,” Edwards said. “This summer alone the Dunkirk Fire Department has responded to five incidents around the Point Cliffs. These incidents included swimmers in distress, an overturned kayak and a jet ski colliding with the rocks.”

The dangers of walking on the cliffs, jumping from, swimming or using water craft near them are numerous:

¯ the terrain is uneven, unstable and can be slippery to walk on

¯ waves can throw a person or a vessel into the cliffs and the waves reverberate off of the cliff

¯ waves hitting the cliff create a rip current

¯ the depth of the water is unpredictable

¯ calling for help is difficult because of the secluded area

¯ rescue vessels can not access this area

¯ rescue becomes very difficult requiring high angle rope operations

Further, the fire department is reminding the public to swim in designated areas only.

“If swimming in areas that are not designated you are doing so at your own risk, Edwards said. “Never swim alone. There is no swimming off of the Point Gratiot and Battery Point Cliffs — there is no swimming in the channel at the entrance of the harbor. Swimmers, kayaks, jet-ski operators and boaters should stay clear of any break-water or cliff including the Lakefront Blvd. break wall and Main Street walkway.

“Boaters and jet ski operators should assume that swimmers may be in areas out side of designated areas and keep a sharp eye out for them.

“We are very fortunate to live near Lake Erie because it gives us numerous opportunities for recreational activities. The water can be provide many with pleasurable experiences but can also be unforgiving. Please take proper safety into consideration when planning an outing on our waterfront.”

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