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Florida Tops U.S. in 2017 Boating Deaths

Florida has more boating-related fatalities than any other state, according to a report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

In 2017, Florida saw a total of 61 fatal accidents involving 67 fatalities. The most common type of accident was falling overboard, resulting in 25 fatalities. Eleven of those accidents took place in July, the month with the most accidents.

In 2016, there were 59 boating fatalities in Florida.

“Mayday, mayday, mayday. You always repeat things three times,” Jack Salis, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, said. “This and you give the name of your vessel and you’re calling for the U.S. Coast Guard.”

But when you compare the numbers, this is what you learn. For every 100,000 boats, Florida ranks 17th in fatalities, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Alaska is number one in this category.

When you consider we have 1,200 miles of coastline, 11,000 miles of lakes, rivers and streams, and we can boat 12 months out of the year — all of those factors play a role.

“The biggest cause for accidents is not paying attention. Good proper fitting life jackets,” Salis said.

He also recommends not drinking and boating.

The numbers show accidents are most likely to happen between 2 and 8 p.m.

“You can look around and see unsafe boating all the time,” Salis. “It’s not as a high a percentage as you might think but it only takes that small percentage to cause the problems.”

According to the U.S. Coast Guard , the state with the second most boating fatalities in 2017 was Texas with 51 fatalities.

Additional reporting by Bo Evans