Chicago, “The Windy City” has cold and snowy winters with even deeper chills from lake front winds from lakes such as Lake Michigan. When the winter thaws and the seasons change, many Chicagoans, as well as tourists, take advantage of the summer weather and the picturesque landscapes of many of the area’s lakes. Busy city dwellers don’t need to travel far to experience a calming day of “fun in the sun”. Whether boating enthusiasts decide to try their hand at salmon and lake trout in Lake Michigan, charter a sailboat, or tourists want to spend the day at the historic Navy Pier, adventure seekers must stay safe to prevent a boating injury in a Chicago lake.
Where to Go: Keep Boating Safety in Mind
Des Plaines River: The Des Plaines River is about a half hour west of the bustling city of Chicago. Coined a “family friendly” river, it offers numerous canoeing and kayaking adventures for those who are looking for a quieter and slower pace with less river traffic to contend with. For individuals who would like to try out kayaking or canoeing, there are courses available to teach skill and safety. A confident, skilled, and safe boater will be less at risk of a boating accident, and in the event of one, the boater will have the knowledge of what to do.
Chicago River: Many people may know the Chicago River as the “Green River” on St. Patrick’s Day, but during the warmer months of summer, many boaters take advantage of the river’s accessibility to take canoe trips, or other watercrafts, out to take in the cityscape and the wildlife. The river, which flows through the heart of the city, has quite a bit of traffic. Boaters of any shape, size, and ability should take extra caution. Remember, river traffic is very similar to road traffic!
Lake Michigan: This Great Lake is approximately 22, 394 square miles and has approximately 12 million people living near its shores in the states of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana. City dwellers and tourists alike enjoy Lake Michigan for its “oceanic” feel and many go out on the lake to view the big city of Chicago in a different perspective (i.e. to view the skyline and other architectural beauty). Whether you are in a fishing boat or taking a tour boat to see the historic Navy Pier, it’s important to be on the lookout for all boats, big and small.
Safety Tips for Your Sightseeing Adventure on Water
Regardless if you are operating your own watercraft, or are a passenger on a large occupancy speedboat, it is important that you know and follow safety rules and regulations.
- Wear a life preserver. It is important that you wear the right one for the right boat and make sure that they are approved by the Coast Guard. Nobody knows water safety better than the CG!
- Don’t over capacitate. On all boats there is weight/capacity limits. Whether you are operating or riding on a boat, make sure that the boat is not over its limit.
- Make sure the boat is equipped. Are there life preserves for everyone? Is the boat equipped with lights and other necessities?
- Don’t drink and operate a boat! Just like driving a car, Drinking and Boating is dangerous. Waterways can be a little more tricky and unpredictable than a road. A road is stays put, water is ever changing (as are its conditions).
- Be a courteous, respectful, and non-aggressive boater. During the summer months, river and lake traffic can be very heavy. It is important to share the water with everyone else and follow, pass, and approach with caution and distance.
Who would think that a big city like Chicago would have so much access to beautiful water filled with wildlife and offering endless summer activities? Whether you are a veteran boater or a new kayaker, safety should be your number one priority. By minimizing the risk of potential accidents, you help ensure that the time spent on your boat will be enjoyable and relaxing-and most importantly-stress free.