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Life jackets may reduce number of fatal offshore accidents

Fatal accidents take place not only on the road but also on the water-boaters and fishers may not realize they need to exercise the same amount of care on boats as they do in cars. A few safety precautions may go a long way in preventing fatal offshore accidents. Just like a seatbelt can save the lives of accident victims in a car accident, a life jacket can help save lives in a boat.

According to the most recent statistics available in the Coast Guard's Recreational Boating Statistics 2011 report, 84 percent of the 533 people involved in a fatal accident were not wearing a life jacket. Those who are involved in a boating incident can alert the Coast Guard, who also receive location notifications from the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons to alert them of the boat's location.

The Eighth Coast Guard District Command Center in New Orleans, Louisiana received such automatic notifications regarding a recent offshore accident. Six people were aboard a vessel that had begun taking on water and called the Coast Guard's office to alert them of their problem. Another Coast Guard office sent an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to find the crew. The group used flares to signal the crew to their location 25 miles offshore.

Their safety precautions and preparedness went a long way in assisting the rescue effort-all six were wearing their life jackets and they were able to alert the crew as to their location.

The Coast Guard recommends individuals wear life jackets the whole time they are on the water and those operating the boat should ensure there are an equal number of life jackets and passengers. Their passengers' safety is their responsibility and they should take it seriously.

Source: wmbb.com, "Six rescued off Carabelle Coast," Andrew Ruiz, Sept. 16, 2012

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