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Stay safe while boating this summer

Summer has come to Chicago, meaning that many residents are enjoying recreational boating out on Lake Michigan and other waterways. But summer boating excursions can prove deadly if proper safety protocols are not followed.

When the shores are crowded with throngs of sunbathers and there are jet skis zigging and zagging over the wakes, launching and piloting a pleasure craft safely can be challenging. Operators must be careful not to jeopardize either people or property with their boats, so abiding by the speed limit is essential on the water.

Below are some dangerous boating behaviors to avoid:

-- Don't jump wakes of other boats, as this can cause you to lose control of your own boat.

-- Never weave in and out of boat traffic. Abide by the navigational rules to avoid accidents.

-- Be mindful of "No Wake" zones so your boat doesn't swamp smaller vessels or cause property damage from water.

-- Don't overload your boat past its weight-bearing cargo limits.

-- Only take your boat into navigable waters.

-- Don't drink alcohol while piloting a boat. The same risks apply for boaters and drivers.

-- Never allow passengers to ride on the gunwales or bow of your boat, as this is both dangerous and illegal.

Even the most responsible boater can be involved in a boating accident with the careless or negligent operator of another boat. If you get into a collision out on the water, your first priority is to ensure the safety of your passengers and anyone else who may be injured.

At a later point, you may wish to review your legal options if you decide to file a claim for damages.

Source: Boat Illinois, "The Handbook of Illinois Boating Laws and Responsibilities," accessed June 17, 2016

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