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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.

Can a Fitness Tracker Help You Get Fit This Spring?

fitness tracker

The sun has finally begun to come out from its winter nap in the northwest suburbs. Runners, walkers, and bicyclists return to Lake Arlington or Busse Woods. But with headphones in their ears, many people are now wearing fitness trackers, like FitBits, smartwatches, and other GPS systems. Have you considered wearing one?

[Read more…]

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!

Summer 2017 Road Construction Projects

As summer begins, remember to add extra time to your trips to ensure your safety due to road construction. Road construction can lead to car accidents, truck accidents, and bike accidents. Additionally, with many people enjoying the weather, be careful of distracted drivers or individuals who may be driving under the influence. To keep the workers and yourself safe, stay off your phone and drive safely this summer.

Suburban Construction

The Illinois Department of Transportation provides a map of the largest construction projects each year. For a clickable map, check out the IDOT website.

However, a few examples of major suburban roadwork includes:

  • In Des Plaines, finishing touches continue at the I-90 and IL-83 (Elmhurst Rd.) interchange. This affects Oakton St., Elmhurst St., and Busse Rd.
  • In Schaumburg, Higgins Rd. (IL-72) will undergo roadwork which may lead to long delays. The construction will occur west of I-294, just south of Woodfield.
  • Near O’Hare, major roadwork will occur on Irving Park Rd. in Bensenville until September. Since this is a major thoroughfare for trucks, please be very careful. If you have been injured in a truck accident near O’Hare, please contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today.

Chicago Construction

In the city of Chicago, several major roads are undergoing major road construction. According to WGN,

  • Lakeshore Drive will undergo structural improvements and repairs at the LaSalle Drive Viaduct beginning mid-summer. Expect some lane closures on Lake Shore Drive. However, the Chicago Department of Transportation will try to work around peak rush hours. Nonetheless, the work may take eight months to complete.
  • Grand Avenue reconstruction is underway between Pulaski and Chicago.  One lane will be maintained in each direction throughout the project with one exception. Between late June to July, Grand Avenue will be fully closed at Homan for five weeks under the railroad viaduct.Work will continue throughout 2017.
  • For other Chicago roadwork information, check out the list from WGN.

Real-Time Traffic Reports

As you head out, make sure to check the local traffic reports, which include construction delays. We recommend all of the local news networks, especially NBC Chicago.

 

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.

About the Firm


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

About Ron

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