CHICAGO (WLS) -- There's a lot of reasons to be out on or in the water in Chicago in summer, but with that comes some warnings from city officials about safety to bring water rescues down from last summer.
A rescue demonstration was held on North Avenue Beach Thursday, showing all that goes into water rescue missions. Several rescue boats and helicopters were in action over Lake Michigan as first responders tossed a training object into the water and went to work.
"Please don't swim alone," said Jason Lach, deputy district chief of marine and dive operations. "Swim with a partner and understand even the strongest swimmers can be taken over by rip currents."
Officials said there were about 270 water rescue responses last summer throughout the city, and to kick off this season they said there's already been an increase in distressed boats and drownings.
"We have a lot of issues with bareboat charters and illegal charters out there. Know who you're talking with. Know who you're dealing with out there," Lach warned.
Sometimes rescue crews have to deal with hazardous five to six foot waves that are difficult to navigate, making the on-the-water training even more important.
"Everybody that's operating a vessel out there has to have an idea of what their navigational hazards are. Weather conditions and everything else that can change in a moments notice," Lach said.
The city is also getting ready to open its public pools later this month, with hopes of avoiding last year's lifeguard shortage that caused some pools to remain closed.
"We're still very optimistic about success of our hiring campaign," said Andrew Walsh, Chicago Park District beaches and pools manager.
The park district said it will have an announcement soon about that expected opening date for pools on June 23. The city also reminded people to download the Chicago OEMC app which is helpful in these type of safety situations while also keeping up with city updates.