The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD — State officials are urging boaters to stay safe ahead of the long holiday weekend.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director of Law Enforcement Jerry Costello says there’ll be increased traffic on lakes and rivers and recent fatalities are a “stark reminder” of the importance of boating safety.

He says Illinois Conservation Police were called to nearly 10 water or boat-related deaths during the last weekend in June.

State officials say all boat operators should check to make sure there are enough personal flotation devices on board. Anyone under 13 has to wear a life jacket while on board of a watercraft that’s under 26 feet long, unless they’re below deck.

Also, they’re reminding the public to stay sober and be vigilant of strong currents, floating debris or submerged objects. Consistent rains have also produced high levels at many state waterways.

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