As a national lifeguard shortage and continued beach hazard warnings threaten safe swimming across the Chicago area, officials are stressing the importance of education around how to be safe in the water.
"Use extreme caution, follow he beach flags, swim near a lifeguard, take a flotation device with you if you're going to go by the lakefront or even just getting your toes in the water," said Dave Benjamin, cofounder of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.
"Young kids and non-swimmers should be wearing a U.S. coast guard approved life jacket," Benjamin continued. "Flotation is the key to surviving a drowning incident."
According to Benjamin, there have been at least 24 drownings reported in Lake Michigan so far this year, including a 9-year-old girl who drowned at a Gary, Indiana beach Tuesday.
According to officials, crews pulled the 9-year-old and a 14-year-old from the water at Marquette Park Beach Tuesday, in an unguarded portion of the beach. The Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources says bystanders were able to help the 14-year-old out, who is recovering. The 9-year-old however, who was pulled from the water by a Lake County Sheriff's helicopter, did not survive.
In Kenosha, WISN in Milwaukee reports that a 5-year-old boy was pulled from Lake Michigan Tuesday night at Pennoyer Park in Kenosha. His condition is currently unknown.
According to the National Weather Service, a "High Swim Risk" has been issued Wednesday along Lake Michigan beaches due to potential storms moving into the area.
"Strengthening northeast winds over Lake Michigan this afternoon will result in building waves and dangerous swimming conditions that will continue through this evening," a bulletin said.
Here's how to check the water temperature and red flag warnings at beaches across Chicago.