Boating deaths up across country, warn rescue teams before holiday weekend rush

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FISHERS, Ind. – Thousands of Hoosiers are expected to get on the water this holiday weekend for the unofficial start of summer. But with that, comes a warning from rescue teams to make sure you’re not putting your life or others at risk.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 4,158 boating accidents and 626 deaths in 2015. Compared to 2014, accidents increased by 2.3% and deaths increased by 2.6%. Alcohol is the leading known factor in fatal boating accidents.

“We go out to the lake, we want to have a good time, but somebody’s gotta be that responsible party and somebody’s gotta be the one to get us back safely,” said Clinton Crafton, Battalion Chief and Special Operations Coordinator for Fishers Fire Department.

Driving a boat should be treated the same as driving a car.;the blood alcohol content limit is .08%.

“By far the vast majority of the incidents we see here on Geist Reservoir are alcohol related,” said Crafton. “DNR will have increased patrols. The Fishers police department, fire department combination patrol will be out.”

Another risk factor is lack of life jacket use. You must have one properly fitting life jacket for each person on the boat. Kids ages 13 and under must wear one at all times on the boat.

“You might have kids that are good swimmers, but they’re good swimmers in the swimming pool. They’re not good swimmers out here with choppy water, incredibly cold water, deep water.”

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