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Follow these tips to stay safe while boating for fun

There's nothing more wonderful for a boater than fair weather, friends and few hours on the water -- unless tragedy strikes. So how do you keep yourself and everyone on your boat safe?

According to all the statistical information gathered by the Coast Guard, these are the best safety tips you and your friends or family can follow:

1. Limit the consumption of alcohol

Around 17 percent of all boating deaths involve alcohol in some way. It's important to understand that it isn't just the driver of the boat who should remain sober. Any guest on the boat who gets too inebriated could put himself or herself at risk through impulsive or foolish actions.

2. Choose who drives carefully

Operator inexperience and inattention are another two big problems that lead to boating deaths. An inexperienced operator may not be aware of how dangerous it is in certain waters, how fast the boat can be driven safely and what safety regulations need to be followed. An operator who is inattentive (possibly due to the consumption of alcohol) is even worse. Controlling a boat requires both attention and acquired skill. In other words, exercise the same sort of caution when you get into someone's boat that you would when getting into a car someone else is driving. The results of a poor choice could be just as deadly.

3. Don't speed on the water

People don't realize just how deadly a high-speed accident on the water can be until they're hitting the water and it feels like they're going into a brick wall, head first. If you're on a boat and someone suggests that it's time to go a little wild, politely decline.

4. Wear your life jacket

Over 70 percent of fatal boating accidents are due to drowning -- and more than 80 percent of those killed aren't wearing their life jackets when they go overboard. It's the simplest thing that you can do to protect yourself and your family, so insist on it -- just like you would a seat belt in a car.

When someone gets hurt in a motorboat accident, the consequences can go on for a long time and involve personal injury claims, wrongful death claims and even criminal charges. That can end anyone's happy boating dreams.

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