From the South Milwaukee Fire Department …
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF MOTHER NATURE OR LAKE MICHIGAN!!
Shortly after 2pm this afternoon, the SMFD responded to Grant Park Beach for a report of several young children floating away from shore on an inflatable raft. While the on-duty officer responded to the beach area to identify any witnesses and attempt to identify a last known location of the raft, additional crews responded to the South Milwaukee Yacht Club to prepare our rescue boat for launch.
Upon their arrival at the beach, crews were able to make visual contact with the raft and confirmed that it was approximately 200 yards or more off shore and being pushed further out. They were also able to identify that there were several occupants still on the raft.
At the time, the winds at the lakefront were from the west at approx. 16mph. And, while the air temperature was 80 degrees, the Lake Michigan water temperature was 56 degrees. According to the National Center for Cold Water Safety, water temperature between 50-60F is considered very dangerous/immediately life-threatening and can lead to total loss of breathing control, maximum intensity cold shock, and leave a person unable to control gasping and hyperventilation.
Within 5 minutes of the launch of the rescue boat, all three patients were brought on board, provided with life jackets and blankets to keep warm and the boat was en route back to the SMYC where they were evaluated by EMS and reunited with their parents. Besides being terrified and cold, the young girls were not injured.
To say the least, these girls were lucky the SMFD is trained and equipped to respond to this type of water emergency as any more time in the water could have led to serious injury or death.