CHICAGO — With the holiday weekend approaching and the weather warming up, locals will be sure to take to the water by boat this summer. However, the fun activity prompts a warning from city officials.
How National Safe Boating Week leading up to the holiday weekend Illinois Conservation Police remind boaters not to operate a boat while intoxicated and stress the importance of life jackets.
Officials also encourage everyone to wear life jackets, whether in a motorboat, kayak or paddleboard, adding that the gear saves lives.
Last year, there were more than 50 reported boating accidents in Illinois waters, resulting in six deaths. Four of them were not wearing life jackets or vests.
According to state officials, the accidents involved a motorboat carelessly colliding with another boat.
Dave Coxhead, Lead Captain of Svoboda Boat Clubteaches a training course that participants must complete, but says even the most experienced boaters can benefit from additional safety instruction.
“The No. 1 cause of fatal boating accidents is alcohol consumption. If you weren’t going to drive in a car and drink, you shouldn’t drive in a boat and drink,” Coxhead said. “You must be safe. You have to be careful what you do. There will be a lot of boat traffic there this weekend.”
Boats must ensure that all their safety devices are in working order. Coxhead also urges boaters to keep a close eye on the marine forecast.
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