Peters HB 4165Chicago- Piers and public access points to Lake Michigan will soon be safer thanks to a measure advanced by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) that will help install essential rescue equipment was signed into law.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe when they head to the beach this summer,” Peters said. “I am glad that we are taking this long overdue step to protect our families who visit beaches on Lake Michigan.”

The new law requires owners of piers or drop-offs on Lake Michigan to install public rescue equipment.  The measure also establishes tracking and reporting requirements for local governments that own a pier or drop-off on Lake Michigan.

Nationally, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 5, the second leading cause for children under 15, and the third leading cause for people under 30.  There are significant disparities between Black and white populations in drowning death rates, with African American males from ages 15 to 19 facing the highest per-capita rates of drowning.

The measure originated from a controversy between residents of the Rogers Park neighborhood and the Chicago Park District over a lack of life saving rings on lakefront piers.

“We have had too many tragic and, in many cases, preventable deaths on Lake Michigan,” Peters said. “Simple rescue equipment like lifesavers are an effective way to help people get to safety in case they fall or find themselves struggling in the water.” 

The measure was signed into law Thursday and takes effect one year after becoming law.