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Drought Conditions Increase Boating Risks

With the weather warming up and school out, boating season is at full force. Unfortunately, the ongoing drought is also making boating accidents a more common occurrence. Here are some stats comparing accidents between 2013 and 2014, taken from an official warning to recreational boaters issued by the California Department of Parks and Recreation:

- Fifty-nine percent increase in collisions with fixed objects.
- Twenty-nine percent increase in groundings.
- Accidents on coastal waters increased 35 percent, while lake accidents decreased by 29 percent. (The difference, according to the Parks and Rec department, reflects "the drought-induced shift of boating recreation from inland lakes to coastal areas.")

Shallower conditions means more obstructions making their pointy and ragged selves known to the underside of boats. With little rainfall this year, boaters need to take higher levels of precaution than usual.

That point should be drilled home by this statistic: 96 percent of boating fatalities caused by drowning occurred when the victim was not wearing a life jacket. So, if you're out there, take extra care to avoid obstructions. And, for goodness sake, wear those life jackets.

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