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Wear Your Lifejacket, Don’t Drink – Simple Tips to Stay Alive on the Water

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Your mother told you to eat your veggies. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends you wear a life jacket on the water. Both health-promoting and life-saving tips seem like such commonsense mariners shouldn’t need a reminder. However, veggies aside, the U.S. Coast Guard’s August-released 2021 Recreational Boating Statistics Report has good news and bad.

On the good side, boating safety improved with a 15.4 percent drop in the fatality rate per 100,000 registered vessels in the US.

The bad is that 81% of fatal boating incident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 83% were not wearing a life jacket.

The report also identified alcohol as the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents and the leading factor in 16% of deaths.

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Photo: Water Sports Foundation
Photo: Water Sports Foundation

“Boating is one of the safest forms of recreation out there, but the data reconfirms to me that deaths associated with not wearing a life jacket and alcohol are among the most preventable,” said Paul Barnard, Recreational Boating Safety Program Specialist, U.S. Coast Guard Eighth District, in a press release. “It gives us a great sense of urgency to educate boaters and give them the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe.” www.watersportsfoundation.com

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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