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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

March 29, 2013 at 7:25 PM

A reminder for boaters: Safety measures can avert tragedy

Warm weather means fun in the water — and the risk of drowning, the King County Sheriff’s Office warned on Friday.

Paddle craft account for most fatal boating accidents in Washington, West said in a news release. Power boats used to lead, but human-powered vessels are now top of the list for fatality accidents.

Out on the water, wear a life jacket, don’t overload your boat, do not try to rescue a dog swept away by the current — and remember the water is cold, which can lead quickly to hypothermia, the release advises.

“U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are the best way to prevent drowning during water recreation,” said King County Sheriff Marine Sergeant James Knauss. Each life jacket has a “Coast Guard Approved” label specifying size and weight limits.

A life jacket is considered serviceable if it looks like it still works, has straps and/or buckles that have not rotted off, and its outer material is not torn or missing.

People also should take care not to overload boats. On large vessels, they should abide by placards stating the number of people and/or total weight the boats can carry.

It is important to stay within both limits. For example, if the limit is two people, then three people is a violation even if the weight remains under the total weight limit. Likewise, if there are two people aboard but their weight exceeds the limit, it is a violation.

Most two-person boats cannot support two “healthy” adult males, the sheriff’s office said.

Attempted rescues of dogs in rivers have contributed to drownings in the past couple years, it said.

If a dog appears to be swept away by the current, it is important not to go in after the pet. Dogs usually find their way to shore on their own.

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