Northeast sees record boating deaths

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Twenty-one recreational boaters and paddlers have died already in the Northeast this year, the highest recorded number, according to the Coast Guard. Six kayakers and five canoeists accounted for 11 fatalities, while motorized vessels accounted for the remaining fatalities.

Nationwide, an average of 700 people die every year in boating and paddling accidents. Close to 70 percent drown and, of that 70 percent, almost 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

"Should a crisis occur and you find yourself in the water, your chances of surviving are better if you're wearing a life jacket, especially in the cold waters of the Northeast," said Al Johnson, the recreational boating safety specialist for the First Coast Guard District. "The immediate, debilitating effect of the shock from cold water, coupled with the involuntary aspiration of water, commences the drowning process. Even the strongest swimmers need a life jacket while their bodies stabilize."

The Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons Vessel Safety Check Mega Weeks run through July 11. For a free Vessel Safety Check to ensure your vessel is safe and properly equipped, visit www.vesselsafetycheck.org to contact a local Vessel Examiner.

For details about the 2010 North American Safe Boating Campaign, go to www.safeboatingcampaign.com