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Our Opinion: Dangerous side of water sports resurfaces

Three news stories published Monday offered a grim reminder of the dangerous aspect of water sports.

The sports included swimming, fishing and boating, and they occurred on three separate bodies of water.

The reports include:

• A 34-year-old man drowned at the Lake of the Ozarks after he jumped into the lake and failed to resurface.

• A 75-year-old man died after he fell out of a fishing boat on Mark Twain Lake.

• A 56-year-old man died while attempting to retrieve a boat that began floating away from the dock in the Meramec River.

Missouri’s rivers and lake are popular venues for water sports and recreation in summer months.

But those activities can be dangerous — and deadly.

Following state laws and commonsense rules, however, can prevent injuries and fatalities on the water.

A life jacket must be available and accessible for each person aboard a boat and the jackets must be worn by children under age 7 — when on deck — and by jet ski and personal watercraft users.

As the name implies — life jackets save lives.

Last year in Missouri, nearly 90 percent of boating fatality victims were not wearing life jackets, according to the Missouri Water Patrol. National statistics show 79 percent of boating fatalities were not equipped with life jackets.

Missouri law also prohibits boating while intoxicated, with the legal limit of .08 percent blood alcohol content, which is equal to the limit for motorists.

The Water Patrol reports more than half of boating crashes last year involved alcohol as a contributing factor.

Missouri’s waterways provide a welcome respite from summer’s high temperatures, particularly during this prolonged heat wave.

We encourage people to observe both state law and natural law. Make news based on achievements, not as a regrettable statistic.

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