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Des Plaines River Boating Safety

des plaines river

To stay cool in the summer, many take to the lakes and rivers. Near our offices in Arlington Heights, the Des Plaines River and the Cook County Forest Preserve offers boats many launch points. However, if you boat on the Des Plaines River, stay safe.

Recently, Baldur Kirsch Jr. lost his life after jumping into the water near Channahon. Family and friends say that Kirsch was an experienced and avid boater who knew the Des Plaines River inside and out. But this knowledge did not save him as he unfortunately lost his life. [Read more…]

Cooling Down By Boating This Summer? Be Safe!

With Memorial Day as the official kick-off weekend for boating season, many boaters have been taking advantage of the nice weekend weather and launching their boats a few weeks early. Before you jump onto your dock, review these rules of the waterway safety. Make sure your boat, yacht, or even ship is water ready.

According to the Discover Boating, just as we learn the “Rules of the Road,” learn the “Rules of Water.”

Discover Boating divides its boating safety tips into four sections:

  1. life jackets,
  2. pre-departure checklist,
  3. semi-annual boating maintenance checklist, and
  4. boating with pets.

Life Jackets

Illinois recommends the use of a life jacket by all boat passengers. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 77 boating-related accidents on Illinois waters in 2014 resulted in 54 injuries and 20 fatalities. During the last five years, Illinois averaged 95 boating accidents resulting in 67 injuries and 19 fatalities.

There are numerous life jacket options that can be utilized:

  1. Offshore life jacket – best suited for boat rides occurring farther into the water due to its 22 pounds of buoyancy and its extended survival design in rough, open water.
  2. Near shore buoyant vest – the classic, most commonly thought of life jacket. You can purchase these life saving vests at a relatively low cost
  3. Buoyancy aid – the most comfortable and useful for different boating activities and water sports
  4. Throwable device – a device used to aid another person in the water. Common devices include boat cushions, ring buoys, and horseshoe buoys
  5. Special use devices – only use boardsailing vests, deck suits, pullover vests, work vests, and inflatable jackets when in the specific use of the device
  6. Inflatable life jackets – utilized while inflated or deflated

Lastly, if you are boating with children, have a life jacket for their proper size.

 Pre-Departure Checklist

Discover Boating created a pre-departure checklist for boaters to utilize before they hit the water. The list is an extensive one, but here’s a quick high light:

  • Your boat should have at least one Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on the boat. At minimum, there should be two life jackets on the boat at all times.
  • It is important to have a sound producing device such as a horn that can produce a four-second blasting sound for at least one-half of mile in the event of an emergency.
  • Before journeying out into the water on your boat, check to ensure that all instrument lights are functioning properly.
  • Make sure flare signals are stored in a dry area.
  • Be sure to have a standard and stocked first-aid kit on board.

Semi-Annual Boating Maintenance Checklist

Twice a year, boat owners should conduct the following check-ups:

  • Are all fire extinguishers functioning properly?
  • Are all safety equipment meeting required thresholds?
  • What is the condition of the fuel tank? Is it rusted?
  • What preventive measures have been or need to be taken to prevent or correct corrosion?

Pet Safety

 Pets tend to become a member of the family which means they may be participating in a family boating trip. If boating with a pet, there are few things to keep in mind.

  1. Be sure to have plenty of drinking water on board.
  2. Obtain a fixaxble umbrella to provide a shaded area to prevent over exposure to the sun.
  3. Protect your pet’s feet from the hot boat surface.
  4. If this is your pet’s first boat outing, keep it short so he or she can get used to the motion of the boat.
  5. Consider a pet life jacket.

This list of tips is by no means totally inclusive. Therefore, be sure to visit Discover Boating’s website for full checklists and tip lists.

Staying Safe on Illinois’ Waterways

Staying Safe on Illinois’ Waterways

Boating Season Is Here

When the temperature rises, many of us head to lakes and rivers to enjoy one of the summer’s simplest pleasures: boating. Boating safety is vital to ensure enjoyable recreation on Illinois’ waterways during summer. But, due to negligent operating, hazardous waters, alcohol impairment, swimmer ability, and other factors, a typically safe and harmless summer activity can quickly turn fatal. In fact, there were 77 boating accidents in Illinois in 2014, resulting in 54 injuries and, sadly, 20 fatalities.


Whether you are operating a boat, are a boat passenger, or swimming in waters near boats, you could be at risk for boating accidents. When inexperienced swimmers fall overboard or are hit by watercraft while swimming, the potential for drowning is significant. Recreational boaters can be relatively inexperienced and may not exercise the same level of care they would when behind the wheels of a car. For these reasons, it’s important to take safety precautions, such as:


  • Always wear a life jacket (drowning is the leading cause of death in boating accidents)



  • Take a boating course to learn how to properly operate a boat (most accidents involved operators who had little or no formal boating education), and


  • Use common sense when operating a boat or swimming near boats


Following these safety tips can greatly reduce your chance of getting in a boating accident. But if you were injured in a boating accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, you could have grounds for a personal injury claim. If someone else was liable for your injuries, you could stand to recover losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.


If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, speak with an Illinois personal injury attorney in your area. It’s important to discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you can file a claim within a specified time frame and that all evidence is preserved. An attorney can review the facts and circumstances of your accident, help you identify the responsible parties, and potentially file a claim against them, so you can get the compensation you deserve.


Boating can be fun for everyone if safety is a top priority, so when out on Illinois’ lakes and rivers this summer, remember the above safety tips, and enjoy the water!


If you’ve recently been injured and are seeking compensation, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

Enjoy the Illinois State Parks

Illinois has over 60 states parks to enjoy this fall and all year round.

Suburban residents luckily have several great state parks nearby. The parks include:

Chain O Lakes State Park

The 2,793-acre state park near Spring Grove has nearly 200 camping sites. Additionally, you can fish and canoe on the lakes. The Turner Lake Nature Preserve is about 80 acres within the park. The state has protected a segment of the park’s bog environment and its unique plants.

Illinois Beach State Park

Along Lake Michigan, residents from all over Lake County, can visit Illinois Beach State Bark. In addition to a great series of bike paths, Illinois Beach State Park allows fishing and swimming.

If you’re traveling from the Northwest suburbs, such as Arlington Heights or Mount Prospect,  take I-294 north to Rt 173 east (approx 8 miles). Take 173 to Sheridan Road. Make a right on Sheridan Road to Wadsworth Road. Lastly, make a left and you will be in the park.

Moraine Hills

If you continue past Lake Zurich on Rt. 12 (Rand Rd.), you can hike and run at Moraine Hills State Park. “The 48-acre Lake Defiance, located near the center of the park, was formed when a large portion of ice broke away from the main glacier and melted.” You can rent a boat for fishing or just enjoying Lake Defiance.

Other State Parks

Depending on where you want to travel in Illinois, you have lots of options. But depending on which park you want to visit, you can have lots of fun. Activities at the state parks include:

  • fishing,
  • hiking,
  • hunting,
  • boating,
  • metal detecting,
  • geocaching,
  • biking,
  • cross country skiing,
  • archery, and
  • horseback riding.

Illinois is not just lots of great shopping and cities. Explore the glories of nature this summer!

Memorial Day Water Safety

Water SafetyEvery year around Memorial Day, people everywhere are looking for fun on the lake, river and pools. But many forget the rules of water safety. As Chicago temperatures rise (very slowly) the eagerness to engage in water activities is at an all time high. Whether you enjoy water sports, fishing, swimming, tubing, floating, boating, or just going to the beach there are risks involved. The risks associated with open water are just as substantial, if not greater, than the risks on land. However, the water tends to lead to people disregarding the risks involved and become more daring. In reality, the water is not the place to be displaying your dangerous behavior. Rather, everyone should be demonstrating the utmost water safety to prevent injury, death, or accidents.

Death on Wooster Lake

At the end of April, a 35-year old man drowned to death in Wooster Lake in Ingleside while fishing. This tragic event exemplifies how simple it is to lose control of a situation while on the water. This man was fishing with his two sons (ten and eleven years old) and an adult friend. There was alcohol involved and the men did not have on safety jackets. The three who survived were found gripping on to the flipped over canoe when a bystander spotted them. The bystander jumped in and saved the three who survived, but the 35-year old father did not make it. This tragedy is a reminder to always use common sense, wear your safety jacket, and drink in moderation while on the water. All four of them could have died that day if the bystander hadn’t heard and seen them in distress.

Illinois Water

The simple act of wearing a life jacket can stand between life and death. You never know what is going to happen while on large bodies of water and being cautious is crucial. Some of the main causes in drowning include overestimating one’s fitness or ability to swim, too much alcohol, and not wearing a life jacket. Currently the water in lakes and rivers is still very cold. The men who were fishing in Wooster Lake were fishing in 49-degree water . This likely had a large effect on the death of the 35-year old man. Underestimating temperatures, wind and storms can be catastrophic. It’s very easy to lose control once you hit frigid temperatures in the water. Although dangerous at time, spending your summer by the pool or at the lake this year shouldn’t be suspended. It’s just important to be mindful of the dangers and take the necessary precautions in order to maintain water safety.

Law Targets Drunk Boating Accidents

As the summer winds down many Illinois residents are taking advantage of the still steamy weather by heading out on the State’s rivers and lakes to boat. Boating is a fun activity, but without proper precaution, a fun day of tubing, fishing, or water skiing can become a disastrous boating accident. One aspect of boating in which many Illinois citizens are unfamiliar is the possibility of receiving a (BUI), cousin of the (DUI), which stands for boating under the influence. In an effort to reduce boating accidents, the state of Illinois has enacted legislation that prevents a boat operator from legally operating a water vehicle with a blood alcohol content of over .08. Too many individuals think of drinking and boating are synonymous. There is a general assumption held by the boating population that once you get out on the water anything and everything goes. But, just like on Illinois roads, there are some rules that you need to know before heading out on the water. [Read more…]

About the Firm

Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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