The Chicago Park District is continuing its search for lifeguards amid a nationwide shortage and a massive heat wave hitting the city, sending more residents to Lake Michigan to cool off.
District officials boosted the retention bonus for both seasonal and year-round lifeguards to $600, while also offering a $500 referral bonus.
In hopes to increase recruitment, lifeguard applicants will no longer have to be Chicago residents to apply for this season, as well.
“Chicago families rely on our park programs during the summer, so we are not giving up. We need lifeguards NOW and are offering great incentives to anyone who is a strong swimmer and interested in keeping the public safe,” said General Supt. Rosa Escareño .
Chicagoans and non-Chicagoans age 16 and older can apply to be lifeguards on the city’s 22 beaches. The current hourly wage for lifeguards is $15.88 per hour, according to the district.
However, the retention bonus would raise the average wage to an equivalent of $17.08 an hour, and would be shared with all new hires and returning guards.
All non-management level district employees are eligible for the $500 referral bonus and can make up to five referrals.
The lifeguard shortage comes at a time of extreme heat in Chicago, breaking record-high temperatures on Wednesday.
According to the National Weather Service, the temperature at O’Hare hit 96 degrees on Wednesday, breaking a heat record that was set back in 1994.
Relief is finally in sight as the weekend approaches, but highs could once again soar into the 90s by next week, according to forecast models.
For those looking to cool off by the water, Chicago beaches have opened for the 2022 season, but swimming isn’t allowed all the time.
Swimming is only permitted at beaches between 11 am – 7 pm, when lifeguards are present.
The Chicago Park District’s flag notification system also shares water conditions and when swimming is safe. When flags are green, swimming is permitted, weather conditions are fair and water quality is good.
When flags are yellow, swimming is permitted, but caution is advised. Weather conditions are unpredictable or bacteria levels are higher than the water quality criteria set by EPA for notifying the public.
When flags are red, swimming is not allowed due to either dangerous weather conditions or water quality.
Check swimming conditions at Chicago beaches here.