Enjoy the holiday, play it safe on or near the water; wear your life jacket - Illinois Waterway

Published July 3, 2014

OTTAWA, Ill. – Many people enjoy being on, in or around the water during the July 4 holiday season; however, the current high water situation makes those activities dangerous. With area streams and rivers in flood stage, boating is a very dangerous activity.

Not only are there extremely strong currents but floodwaters can also carry large amounts of debris. Trees, logs, railroad ties, abandoned boats and even parts of flooded houses can be seen in flood waters. If you are boating and strike a large piece of debris, your boat could be capsized or damaged.

Strong currents can also pull your boat into dangerous locations such as a dam, wing dam or other obstruction. With the higher currents, you may not have enough time or engine power to pull away.

Seventy percent of all boating deaths occur when someone unexpectedly falls into the water. Once in the water, even an experienced swimmer can lose coordination and drown. This problem is more complicated if the person has been drinking alcoholic beverages. Don’t drink and boat!

When boaters leave for a day on the water, they seldom expect to find themselves in the water or in an accident, but it happens. With the water conditions as they are now the chances of a day on the water ending in tragedy is greatly increased.

Show your independence by staying on land this July 4 holiday.

If you choose to recreate on or near the Illinois River, wear your personal floatation device (life jacket) at all times. If you don’t own one, borrow, rent or buy a life jacket before engaging in river activities; it can save your life. Boating in the state’s rivers and lakes is a favorite summer pastime, but don’t turn your summer fun into a game of chance. It’s easier to avoid trouble than to get out of it. Don’t play the odds with your life or the life of your loved ones. Know before you go!

For more information call the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center at (815) 667-4054.

Kevin Ewbank

Release no. 14-041