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JUNEAU - For the last big holiday weekend for recreational boating, the Coast Guard is encouraging responsible and safe recreation on the water.
With 14 fatalities last year, Alaska has one of the highest non-commercial boating fatality rates per capita in the nation. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in Alaska.
Alcohol consumption continues to be a major concern in fatal boating accidents and is listed as the leading contributing factor in 17 percent of the deaths in the 709 deaths recorded nationally in 2008.
"Fall boating in Alaska has its own challenges; sudden weather changes, fewer boaters around to help in case you get into trouble and extra gear for camping and hunting can all add up to contribute to a boating accident," said Mike Folkerts, Coast Guard District 17 Recreational Boating Safety Specialist. "Wear your lifejacket, keep a means of communication handy, preferably a marine VHF radio, and file a float plan. That way if something happens, you'll be prepared to survive."