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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.

About the Firm


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

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