wave.jpgThe U.S. Coast Guard is reminding Bay Area boaters to stay safe on the water today during Independence Day celebrations.

The Coast Guard and local law enforcement will be increasing their presence and will be spot-checking recreational boats to ensure the required safety equipment and gear is on board, Coast Guard officials said.

The Fourth of July is one of the busiest days out in the water, according to the Coast Guard. Areas that normally have little boat traffic will be busy, Coast Guard Petty Officer Laura Alcon said.

To stay safe, she recommends “everyone use common sense and be vigilant.”

Coast Guard officers remind boaters to not drink and operate a boat and to have life jackets on or nearby.

Last year, 484 people drowned nationwide – the number one cause of death on the water. Nearly 90 people who drowned were not wearing a life jacket.

Alcohol often leads to boating accidents, leaving in its wake 126 fatalities in 2010.

“Complacency gets people in trouble,” Alcon said.

In popular Bay Area boating spots there will be designated barges and boats setting off firework displays for holiday celebrations, she said.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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