The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary encourages the wearing of life jackets during the July 4th holiday.
Boating is a big part of July 4th celebrations, and wearing a life jacket while having fun on the water makes good sense.
Of the boating fatalities that occurred nationwide in 2009, 67 percent drowned. Of that group, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
Many boaters have a false sense of security, believing that knowing how to swim means a life jacket is not necessary. However, if the victim has a serious injury or is knocked unconscious, he or she can't swim.
Another factor that affects swimming or boating ability is alcohol consumption.
When you are out on the lake and relaxing, drinking might not seem like an issue. Drinking a few beers is all a part of having fun while enjoying the water and sunshine. You are out to have a good time, right?
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is a big deal. Someone operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content (or BAC) of more than .10 percent is 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident than someone driving a boat while sober.
BUI is responsible for approximately 34 percent of fatal boat accidents each year.
You might not be aware of it, but the boat's motion, vibration and engine noise, as well as sun, wind and spray all make the effects of alcohol more intense. These conditions all add up to a dangerous boating experience.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary wants you to be safe and have a great weekend. But be a responsible boater for yourself, your passengers and other boaters on the water.
Jim McMenamin is the public affairs officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 7-21, Augusta. For information, call (706) 830-6966.
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