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“Don’t want to lose a life:” MFD officials stress knowing your ability before getting near the water

MILWAUKEE -- Labor Day weekend attracted crowds along Milwaukee's lakefront, and officials with the Milwaukee Fire Department were on hand to make sure it was both a fun and safe holiday.

Summers by the lake go quickly, so it stands to reason this Labor Day weekend might have been someone's first time in the water.

"Somebody who didn't know how to swim got pulled out from the undertow," Lt. Kevin Monaghan with the Milwaukee Fire Department said.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

Lt. Kevin Monaghan with the Milwaukee Fire Department

That's a common scenario for MFD's Dive Team. During the Labor Day weekend, they responded to a swimmer in distress.

"Got swept out there and couldn't make it back," Lt. Monaghan said.

Fortunately, a surfer was able to scoop up a young man who was being pulled away from the shore.

"We don't want to lose a life over something so easy as swimming," Lt. Monaghan said.

Lt. Monaghan said it's important for a swimmer to know his or her ability before heading to the beach.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

Milwaukee Fire Department

"It's an awareness, alert that anytime you are near water, from youth on, know how to swim," Lt. Monaghan said.

Lt. Monaghan said he also recommends parents know their children's plans ahead of time, and he noted that any body of water can be dangerous.

"You get those heavy waves that are relentless that keep pounding you," Lt. Monaghan said.

Lake Michigan on a windy day can pose the greatest risk.

"Once you take water on, it's even more difficult to overcome that to get to shore," Lt. Monaghan said.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

MFD officials said your plans on the lake should include designating the strongest swimmer so that person can help if someone gets into trouble.

"That strong simmer can run out there and pull them back into safety," Lt. Monaghan said.