The Coast Guard's Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety on Tuesday released its Recreational Boating Statistics 2009 report, which reveals a 3.81 percent increase in boating accident deaths and a 0.81 percent increase in related injuries.
However, the number of boating accidents decreased 1.23 percent.
The Coast Guard recorded 736 deaths, 3,358 injuries and approximately $36 million in property damage stemming from 4,730 recreational boating accidents in 2009.
"The data in the 2009 publication echoes the message that life jacket wear is critical," said Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, the Coast Guard's director of prevention policy. "Nearly 75 percent of the 736 people who died in boating accidents in 2009 drowned and 84 percent of those victims reportedly were not wearing a life jacket. The two most important things boaters can do to prevent the loss of life is to wear a life jacket and take a boater education course."