As Memorial Day weekend approaches, beach towns gear up for large crowds

NOW: As Memorial Day weekend approaches, beach towns gear up for large crowds

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Michiana is close to the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day weekend. Large crowds are expected in beach towns like St. Joseph, and at beaches like Silver Lake County Park.

Lifeguards aren’t posted yet, but they will be out in full force this weekend. Then, they start officially for the summer season the second week of June.

“We’re expecting to draw in a lot of families, especially a lot of families out of town,” said Gabe Lingk, head lifeguard at Silver Lake Beach County Park. “We usually get people from Illinois and Indiana coming here a lot.”

Lifeguards will soon have more ground to cover as St. Joe’s beach front is expanding.

But, you won’t see Michigan’s recently announced double red flag system at Silver Beach because it’s designed for beaches that never have lifeguards.

“We are still looking into it, but we aren’t implementing it currently, yet,” Lingk said. “So the flag system we have here, we wave green flags when it’s days like this, where it’s very calm and peaceful.”

Yellow flags mean choppier water but still safe to swim supervised. Red flags are for dangerous conditions and swimming is not permitted. You could even get fined by the state for violating it.

“That is usually when rip currents and waves are the most dangerous,” Lingk said.

This early into the summer, Lake Michigan still feels ice cold.

“I doubt people will be in there long enough to get hypothermia, especially with how hot it’s going to be outside. The biggest danger would be the heat this weekend,” Lingk said.

Beach workers say overheating is one of their biggest risks, whether it’s heatstroke, dehydration or fainting, and can be made worse by beachgoers who break the rules and drink alcohol at the beach.

“People should just stay hydrated, make sure you eat something before coming here,” Lingk said.

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