CHICAGO (CBS) — Memorial Day is a day to remember our fallen heroes, but it has also become our official launch into summer.
Chicago beaches opened today and officials are reminding those heading to the beach this weekend to take extra precautions.
“Summer is finally here!” said Julia Dagostini, heading to the beach as soon as it opened for the season. “I’m excited the weather is beautiful this weekend.”
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports the lifeguards are on duty on the water and sand.
Chicago Park District’s manager of beaches and pools, Eric Fischer, said, “It’s that sense of security and the ability when you want to go in the water, that it’s safe and that you have someone there to take care of you.”
While it may be hot this weekend, the Chicago Park District warns that Lake Michigan is 54 degrees, which is too cold for more than a quick dip.
Noreidy Hernandez went into the water today. Laughing, she said, “It’s really cold! I wouldn’t stay in there.”
She said she walked in up to her neck and then got out of the water due to the cold temperature.
Boaters who may be tempted to jump into deep water need to be extra careful.
Matt James of the U.S. Coast Guard issued a warning saying, “If your airways are below the water level when you take that gasp of air which is involuntary, you suck in that cold water in your lungs, it’s going to cause cold water drowning.”
The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project says Great Lake drownings continue to rise and warn that hot air and cold water create a dangerous mix.
“Water safety and drowning survival is not common sense yet,” said Dave Benjamin, GLSRP Executive Director in a press release. “Most people have not been back to the beach since last August so be aware that the water is very cold and your swimming endurance is very low.”
Sudden immersion into cold water can cause cold water shock and a sudden involuntary hyperventilation gasp reflex and cause drowning.
The Coast Guard is reminding boaters to wear their life vests and avoid drinking too much.
Officials say the other summer hazard is getting too much sun exposure without wearing sunscreen.
Lifeguards are on duty until 7 pm.