Chicago Park District provides water safety training ahead of beach season

Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner! Marking the unofficial start to summer, it’s when Chicago's beaches are back open for business.

To prepare, the Chicago Park District is hosting a series of water safety training events.

"If somebody is in distress, we want you to do one thing first, call 911," said  Sandra Olson, director of programming, Chicago Park District. "Our lifeguards are watching, they’re keeping you safe, but we need people to pay attention to the water."

Park district officials say beaches will be safely staffed with lifeguards this summer, but ask beachgoers not to swim if there isn't one on duty.

At Leone Park Beach on Tuesday, during the first of several water safety events, officials also warned not to underestimate the lake's undercurrent, and not to jump off piers or swim near them.

"When it’s windy, the piers attract that wind and pull you into the pier, and a lot of times can pull you under," said Olson.


New this summer, bright red life rings are being installed along the lakefront. They're equipped with a 100-foot rope.

"Step 1 is pick up the life ring. Step 2 is pick up the rope. You want to throw the ring out, and then pull the ring back into shore," said Kimberly Peralta, assistant manager of beaches and pools, North Region.

Beachgoer, Monica Blake who frequently kayaks, sails, and paddle boards attended Tuesday’s water safety training event and said the life rings are a welcome sight.

"Unfortunately, we experience a couple of drownings a year on this beach alone," said Blake.

She urges everyone, even the best swimmers, to brush up on water safety.

"I think first and foremost, they need to remember that you need to respect the water," said Blake.

Beaches will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. starting on Friday, May 27 until Labor Day.

The park district's flag system will be in play once again this season.

Red flags posted at the beach mean "do not swim," yellow flags mean "take caution," and green flags mean that the water is safe to swim in.

The Chicago Park District will be hosting additional water safety training events in the coming weeks; they are free and open to the public. All trainings will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Wednesday, May 25 Dr. at Margaret Burroughs Beach
  • Thursday, May 26 at Rainbow Beach
  • Wednesday, June 1 at Montrose Beach, 12th Street Beach and 63rd Street Beach
  • Wednesday, June 8 at Foster Beach, Oak Street Beach and South Shore Beach
  • Wednesday, June 15 at Ostermann Beach, 41st Street Beach and Calumet Beach
  • Wednesday, June 22 at Hartigan Beach, North Avenue Beach and 57th Street Beach