If you’ve ever been to Chicago, then you most likely know that one of the best ways to see the diverse and unique city architecture is by renting a boat and going for a relaxing boat ride in the Chicago Bay area or on the Chicago River. If you’re planning a trip to this visually appealing city and you’re considering renting a boat, then consider some important safety tips before your boat ride begins.

Plan and Wear Life Jackets

It may seem obvious, but once you enter the locks of the Chicago waters and certain waters surrounding the area, life jackets are required. Authorities do recommend that you wear them at all times when boating, especially since the currents tend to be high and quite strong at certain times of the year, which is why planning is just as essential as on-board safety. Check weather reports for conditions and check for strong currents ahead of time. Keep in mind that different levels of life jacket are required depending on the size of the waterway and how far from shore you are traveling.

Paying Attention

No matter the direction you are traveling or the size of your boat while boating on the Chicago River, you must keep right. If your boat is quite small, then you must travel even further right along with the slower moving traffic. This allows larger and faster moving water vessels to safely pass by you and will help avoid water hazards.

In a car you can travel the length of a football field in seconds, and while a boat might be slower, it’s just as easy to miss how far you’ve gone when you’re not paying attention. It’s important to watch your speed and follow the safe speed rules since you cannot solely rely on your perceived visual speed. This will ensure that you can safely stop your boat to avoid any possible collisions.

Flip, Float, and Follow

No one wants to end up going overboard and especially in rough waters. However, it does happen from time to time and it could happen to you. If you unexpectedly find yourself in the water while boating in the area, use Dave Benjamin’s advice of flip, float, and follow. When people end up overboard, they tend to panic and the entire idea behind this method is to do the opposite by flipping over on your back and allowing your body to float. Relax your body and breathe deeply to help reduce anxiety.

Boating can be a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the sights and sounds in any city or area from a distance. For best boating experience possible, and to avoid any water hazards, always practice safety and proper planning before heading out on the waters.