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Life Jackets Save Two Chicago Teens’ Lives After Jet Ski Accident

Casey Woodruff

Two 14-year-old Chicago girls are incredibly grateful they were wearing life jackets when they were thrown from their jet ski and left floating in the freezing waters of Lake Michigan. The Coast Guard says the two girls were saved by their smart thinking and proper safety attire.

The girls said they were enjoying an afternoon jet skiing on Lake Michigan when they took too tight of a turn and were thrown from their jet ski. The jet ski had an automatic shut off safety device. The U.S. Coast Guard spotted the passenger-less jet ski floating in the lake and knew to search for victims. The girls, who are believed to have floated in the water for nearly an hour, were treated for hypothermia and are expected to make a full recovery.

With the onset of summer, the beaches are open, and the waters are filled with watercraft. Lake Michigan is a water sport lover’s paradise, and jet skis, when operated appropriately, can offer an afternoon of excitement and fun. But when drivers misuse and underestimate the power of a jet ski, whether through their own negligence or because a rental company provided inadequate equipment or training, serious accidents can occur.

The following are general safety tips that all riders and drivers should follow when operating a jet ski:

  • All drivers should wear a safety cord attached to the automatic engine shut-down, so the ski will automatically switch off when falls occur.
  • All riders, regardless of age and swimming ability, should wear life jackets at all times when on a jet ski.
  • Drivers should take a watercraft operating class and be familiar with Illinois watercraft rules and regulations.
  • Both passengers and drivers should not operate a jet ski while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

When the above guidelines are followed, accidents and injuries can be greatly reduced.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, “2 girls, 14, rescued after thrown from jet ski near Winnetka,” Deanese Williams-Harris, May 29, 2012

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