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Boating fatalities are up slightly this year. Here’s how you can stay safe.

Boats of all descriptions on the water at Mystic seaport. Mystic, Connecticut. 21st July 2013. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
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With Connecticut on track to have a slightly higher-than-average number of boating fatalities this year, the U.S. Coast Guard is encouraging boaters to wear life jackets and take safety courses. Coast Guard boating safety specialist Walt Taylor says the majority of boating fatalities happen because passengers aren’t wearing a life jacket.

A boat accident near Portland, Conn., on Sunday that left one person dead is the sixth boating fatality in the state this year. The annual average number of boating fatalities in Connecticut is about six people, according to statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard. With the 2022 boating season only halfway through, the state is on track for slightly more boating fatalities than the yearly average.

“[In] 81% of the fatal boating accidents, a person drowned. And what’s the really telling number with that is that of the fatal accident victims that drowned, 83% were not wearing a life jacket,” said Walt Taylor, lead boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard’s northeast district. “You should always wear your life jacket, even if it’s not required by law.”

According to Taylor, alcohol is also a common contributing factor in boating accidents.

“Always boat sober,” he said. “If you’re going to have alcohol on the boat, have a sober operator that knows the rules of the road, knows how to operate the vessel, so everyone else on board is safe.”

Taylor also emphasized the importance of boating safety courses. To obtain a certificate to operate a boat in Connecticut, residents are required to take a safety course or pass a test with a score of 80% or higher.