Water emergency calls up 56% in Duluth

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Record heat wasn’t the only thing that was hot in Duluth in 2021; the Duluth Fire Department saw a 56% increase in water emergencies last year. There were 39, and that includes both ice and water.

The Department issued 13 high risk of rip current warnings in 2021. On three of those dates, the Department responded to water emergencies. In all three instances, those who were rescued were transported to the hospital to be evaluated.

“We take water emergencies like any emergency very seriously,” Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj said. “Duluth is lucky to have the amount of water that we have here, from our rivers and streams to the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. We also want the public to be safe when enjoying the water as conditions, especially in Lake Superior, can change rapidly.”

He says, "I think one of the things that people don’t realize, is that is they equate big waves to rip currents, and we’ve had some of our worst days out their for water rescue have been warm, calm, 90 degree, flat water days. That can still cause rip currents."

Krizaj said they believe many people were eager to get out and enjoy recreation after the COVID restrictions, and that was a factor in the higher number.

"They really want to get out. They really wanted to be out and you know one of our best attractions of course for locals and visitors alike is our proximity to the water", says the Chief.

Krizaj added that they are looking at adding equipment and new initiatives to the already extensive training.