At this same time last year, Louisiana had only reported two recreational boating fatalities. Fast forward to the year 2021 and already the state has seen seven such instances where boaters lost their lives on the state's waterways. Two of those fatalities have been reported in just the past week.

This has prompted officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division to ask us to remind you that safety on the water begins with you. And now, as the weather is becoming more and more conducive for outside activities that involve water the extra emphasis couldn't come at a better time.

LDWF officials say most of the fatal accidents on our state's waterways have one thing in common, the lack of a personal flotation device. What makes this fact even more startling is that in most cases, PFDs were available to the boaters in question. The personal flotation devices simply weren't being used at the time when they were needed the most.

Louisiana law does require personal flotation devices to be on board any vessel that is licensed to travel on the state's waterways. What the law can't make people do is put those devices on. The most common reason given for not using a PFD is that they are uncomfortable or they get in the way of fishing, swimming, or getting some sunshine. I would argue that death would interrupt those activities in a more demonstrative way, but that's just me.

Most recently in Acadiana, a person fell off of a personal watercraft in Vermilion Parish and drowned on February 28th. And then this past weekend one person was killed and four others were injured when a boat struck a bridge in Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife urges all boaters to take a boater safety course before heading out onto the water. In fact, if you've already taken a course but it has been a few years, you might want to sign up for a refresher course. Taking a few minutes today could make all the difference between life and death out on the water later this summer.

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