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Boating deaths graphic

New recreational boating statistics by the U.S. Coast Guard have been released for National Safe Boating Week that leads up to the Memorial Day weekend.

South Carolina ranks No. 7 in the nation for boating accidents, with 124 boating mishaps causing 14 deaths in the state in 2014, according to the report available in full at uscgboating.org/statistics/accident_statistics.aspx

Nationally, drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2014, and that 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

The National Safe Boating Council kicks off its Wear It! campaign promoting safe boating and life jackets with during National Safe Boating Week, May 16-22.

"What looks like a perfect day for boating can quickly become hazardous if you end up in the water," said Rachel Johnson, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council, the lead organization for Wear It! "You can have a great time while choosing to always wear a life jacket and being a responsible boater."

"Each year hundreds of people lose their lives, and they may still be alive if they had been wearing a life jacket," said John Johnson, chief executive officer of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. "You never know when there may be a boating mishap, so it's important that everyone onboard always wears a life jacket."

New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. There are innovative options, such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, paddling or hunting, and are much cooler in the warmer weather.

Throughout the campaign, Wear It! will remind boaters of the importance of boating safely, including consistent life jacket wear, boating sober, knowing navigational rules and having a proper lookout. Partners will host local events, teach classes, offer on-water training, distribute educational materials, and perform free vessel safety checks.

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