Staying Afloat

Rescued boat at Montrose Harbor Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

No doubt it’s been a heavy spring storm season for much of the United States. While those in the south continue to recover and prepare from the destruction in the past month, Chicago had its own close call last night.

There was the typical thunder boom and flash of lightning most of us saw, but what got one woman startled was the absence of her phone ringing. A Chicago resident, 48, had warned her husband, 62, of the violent weather to come later in the evening as he boated on Lake Michigan near Montrose Harbor. The panic set in when she went hours without hearing from him.

That gut feeling – wrenched stomach and unorganized thoughts – likely sent her into panic mode, the phase just before most of us stop short of taking action due to fear.

Instead of stopping short, she pushed though the paralyzing stage and became a hero.

After launching a speed boat with the help of two other boaters nearby, she found the capsized boat just half a mile from the coast along with her husband and two other men struggling in the water. Rescuing all four, she brought them to safety back at the harbor.

With the water between a chilling 30 to 40 degrees, the men were incredibly lucky to have survived after remaining in the cold for 45 minutes.

Summer is just around the corner and so is boating season. What happened last night can occur anytime, anywhere. Don’t let a Chicago favorite activity turn into the scare these residents went through. At the first sign of severe weather, get to safety. Make sure your water vehicle is stocked with personal floatation devices (PFDs) and take the time to learn CPR though one of our Red Cross classes, offered year-round. By reading our water safety tips, you’ll be prepared to push through the panic and become a hero yourself.

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