US Coast Guard conducts safety checks before holiday

July 3, 2012 3:47:12 PM PDT
With the July 4th holiday approaching, the U.S. Coast guard is stepping up its patrols along the Chicago lakefront.

Routine safety checks are an important part of that process.

"The main things we're looking for are life jackets, a flotation device, sound devices and flares," said Edward Minor, U.S. Coast Guard. "Basically what we're going to do is run through all your safety equipment, make sure you comply with all federal guidelines."

Making sure those operating the boats aren't drinking excessively is also a concern.

"If you want to drink just anchor your boat. You'll keep everybody safe and we won't bother you," said Minor.

On an average day, the Coast Guard will conduct up to 25 safety checks. On a holiday, that could double depending on traffic. On Tuesday, it was Nick Carrizales' turn to be boarded.

"I think it's a good idea," he told ABC7.

While it's always important to be safe while out on Lake Michigan, it's even more important on a holiday like the Fourth of July, when up to 1,000 boats could be out on the water at the same time.

"A lot of people go out there and get out of hand so right of way rules are important. You really have to be vigilant," said Matt Smart, sailing director at Chicago Sailing TC.

Smart constantly monitors the weather for any sudden changes that might affect his boaters and insists that, uncomfortable or not, they all wear life vests while on the water.

"You can't always guarantee the state someone will be in if they have an accident, so having a life vest can save you," he said.

"Anything can happen on the water," said Tom Sames, sailor. "I always wear a life vest and anyone who sails with me has to wear a life vest also."


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