The City of South Haven, Michigan has seven public beach accesses to Lake Michigan. The popular North and South beaches also provide access to the pierheads. Access is also available from Packard Park, Woodman Street, Dyckman Avenue, Oak Street and Newcombe Street. To keep these beaches safe for everyone’s enjoyment the City of South Haven has created a water safety program that is administered by South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) between May 15 and September 15.
The public is advised that swimming is at their own risk. There are no lifeguards on duty at any public beach in South Haven. Signage is placed at all locations explaining the public's responsibilities when using the beaches and accessing the piers. In case of an emergency call 911. Emergency call boxes are located on the south and north beaches. When activated they connect with the 911 dispatch center.
Lake Michigan conditions as determined by the National Weather Service are monitored by SHAES personnel. Beach warning flags are placed at the seven public beaches every day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. The flags are changed throughout the day as lake conditions change. The flags are either green, yellow or red based on the conditions.
When a GREEN flag is flying there are calm conditions. Caution should always be exercised when entering the water.
When a YELLOW flag is flying there is a moderate surf and/or currents. Caution should always be exercised when entering the water.
When the RED flag is flying the water is closed to the public due to the high surf and/or strong currents. Rip currents are especially prevelant and dangerous along the piers.
A numbering system for South Haven's beach flag poles and pier safety boxes has been developed to assist during a time of emergency as a point of reference. The 14 beach flag poles are numbered 1 through 14. Number one flag pole starts at Newcombe beach, located on the city's far north beach access and progresses to the south ending at the Blue stairs beach flag pole 14. Each beach flag pole is labeled with the number located approximately seven feet above the base located on all four sides of the pole along with a white flag located near top of pole with the corresponding number located on it.
The Pier safety boxes are blue metal boxes that contain a portable flotation device with rope and a rope throw bag. There are three boxes located on the north pier and three on the south pier. The Pier safety boxes are numbered one through three with the corresponding letter “S” or “N” for South or North pier. The numbers for the pier safety boxes begin with the number one as you enter the pier and progress to number two and three. It is unlawful to dive or jump from a South Haven Lake Michigan pier. Swimming is prohibited within 50 feet of the piers.