Five Hundred People Drown Each Year from Boating Accidents

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COLUMBIA - National Safe Boating Week starts Tuesday, May 19 until May 25, 2012.

Nationwide, approximately 500 people drown each year from recreational boating accidents.The U.S. Coast Guard statistics show drowning is the reported cause of 75 percent of all recreational boating fatalities in 2010. From this number 88 percent of the victims were not wearing a life jacket.

"Boating accidents occur too quickly for you to reach for a life jacket," said Colonel Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

"Missouri experienced 166 boating accidents in 2011, in which 86 people were injured and 19 people were killed."

Colonel Replogle said take your time to choose a life jacket that fits properly for your activity and body weight.

Barbara Giles has been boating for 12 years. Giles said she always makes sure she has her life jacket on and asked the boaters to be cautious of the river.

"The river is going to do what it wants to do and you can't impact it. It will impact you. And so if you want to enjoy it, or survive, explore the river, then you'll need to be prepared," said Giles.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said in addition to wearing life jacket, it is imperative to remember these boating safety tips:

1) Don't drink while you boat.

2) Know Missouri's boating laws before you get onto the water.

3) Make sure your boat is as prepared as you are. Schedule inspection before you hit the water.

4) Check the weather. Know the forecast prior to going out and check for changing conditions regularly.

5) Make sure you can keep in touch with others. Have your cell phones with you, have a good float plan, and always make sure that someone on shore knows when you are leaving and when you should return.

Boaters are reminded to contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol using *55 if they need assistance, or notice another boater operating their boats unsafely.