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Coast Guard urges boaters to be safe out on the water this holiday weekend

The warning comes with the arrival of Memorial Day weekend.

NORFOLK, Va. — Hampton Roads is a boater's paradise. But it can also be a nightmare if you make a mistake. 

In 2018 -- the last year for which statistics are currently available -- across the country, there were 633 recreational boating fatalities. That was a 3.8 percent decrease from the year before.

Still, it was 633 deaths that didn't have to happen.

Alcohol was the leading contributing factor, accounting for 100 of those deaths, or 19 percent of the losses of life.

".08 is obviously the legal limit for operating a vessel," said CWO 2  Daniel Butierries. "But that doesn't account for your level of impairment. One drink for some people can cause your judgment to be askew and causes impairment and if you've ever been out on a boat, in a split second, things happen and it can cause fatalities and obviously does."

The water can be very unforgiving, and the Coast Guard is urging people to just be safe.

"Especially with the ramp-up for the summer season, it is especially important, as we see an increase in boating traffic due to warmer weather," said 0S1 Amanda Lewis. "But the water is a little cold for this time of year, so, it's definitely important that our mariners are prepared for any situation that they  may come across."

Among the many common-sense tips: besides not drinking and driving a boat, make sure everyone on board is wearing a life vest, know the weather conditions, check to see if you have enough gas, and be certain that you have a working radio, and it is turned on and tuned into marine channel 16.

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