Ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources wants to remind boaters to be safe. It’s National Safe Boating Week and the message is “Wear It,” as in wear your life jacket. “Every year we see boating accidents, either in the State of Illinois or throughout the country, that simply could’ve been prevented, fatalities that could have been prevented, if only somebody was wearing their life jacket,” said Chris McCloud, IDNR spokesman.
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Illinois law requires a life jacket for every person on board a boat. State law also requires anyone under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket while aboard any watercraft under 26 feet in length. Other flotation devices, such as floatable boat cushions, can’t be substituted for a life jacket. In 2012 there were 101 boating related accidents on Illinois waters resulting in 17 deaths and 77 injuries. Alcohol use was a contributing factor in 13 of the accidents and five of the fatalities.