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Life Jackets Crucial for Summer Water Safety in Michigan

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In 2014, 20 Michiganders lost their lives as a result of a boating accident. (Pixabay)
In 2014, 20 Michiganders lost their lives as a result of a boating accident. (Pixabay)
May 23, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – This is National Safe Boating Week, and state officials are urging Michigan boating enthusiasts to take the proper precautions to ensure safety.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says there were 107 boating accidents reported in 2014, resulting in 52 injuries and 20 fatalities. And Sergeant Al Bavarska with the Marine Safety Law Enforcement Division says most people who drown in a boating or personal watercraft accident would be alive if they had been wearing a life jacket.

"Most of the boaters comply with the law, but their life jackets are either stored, inaccessible and they can't be reached,” he points outs. “If they're wearing their jacket, that would avoid most fatalities on the water."

One life jacket is required for each person on a watercraft, and children under age six must be wearing one at all times.

On a personal watercraft or jet ski, a life jacket is required for those riding or being towed. National Safe Boating Week runs through Friday.

A dozen boating accidents in 2014 involved the use of alcohol. Bavarska notes it's illegal for anyone to operate a boat or personal watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"One bottle of beer or can of beer, or prescription drugs, can affect your operation abilities when you're navigating on the water, compounded with the sun beating on you, or the cold weather or just a rough sea," he stresses.

Before heading out on the water for the season, Bavarska encourages boaters to ensure the equipment on their vessel is operating correctly, including the battery, fire extinguisher and navigational lights.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI