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Stay afloat & stay alive

Caitlin Nearhood • Jun 2, 2014 at 6:22 PM

As boating season begins, two recent tragedies remind enthusiasts to prepare for the worst.

   Last April, a local father and daughter died after beginning their kayaking adventure in Sandusky Bay. It is still unknown exactly how they died, but they were not wearing life jackets or dry suits to protect themselves from freezing water temperatures.

   A little over a month ago, four anglers died after their boat crashed or capsized

   — the incident is still under investigation — near Locust Point. Two were wearing life jackets, but the other two were not. U.S. Coast Guard teams found the fourth body May 8.

   The Great Lakes Coast Guard on Friday kicked off National Safe Boating Week in an effort to prevent similar incidents. This year’s theme — “Wear it!” — encourages boaters to wear life jackets at all times while boating.

   “[National Safe Boating Week] helps bring boating safety to the forefront of people’s minds,” said Chris Yaw, of the Coast Guard’s Ninth District, in an email Monday. “By utilizing education, outreach and training, we can help make the waterways safer for all”

   According to the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division, 77 percent of the 560 boating deaths that occurred in 2013 were drownings. Of those 398 drowning deaths, 328 of the victims — 84 percent — were not wearing life jackets.

   Prevention is key anytime one sets sail.

   “Accidents happen fast and unexpectedly, and boaters never intend to end up in the water,” said Mike Baron, Coast Guard Ninth District recreational boating safety specialist, in a news release. “I am often asked which is the best life jacket: The best one is the one you wear. It will only save your life or the life of a loved one if you ‘Wear It!”

   For more information, visit safeboatingcampaign.com  .

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