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It's called a 'life' jacket for a reason

The Fourth of July is one of the busiest boating days of the year.

Thus, the U.S. Coast Guard is reminding people to take extra caution over the holiday - and, especially, reminding boaters and passengers to wear their life jackets.

"Life jackets are the No. 1 way that American's 77 million-plus boaters can protect themselves," according to a pres release from the Coast Guard.

Minnesota ranks No. 7 in U.S. states, tied with Missouri, in the number of boating fatalities, the release said.

According to the Coast Guard, Minnesota and Missouri each had 24 boating fatalities in 2005. Florida was No. 1 with 78, California had 58, Louisiana 35, Texas 32, Michigan 28 and Washington 25. Tied for eighth were Alaska, Kentucky and Wisconsin each with 20.

In 2005, according to the Coast Guard:

-- Drowning was the cause of death in 70 percent of all fatalities.

-- About 87 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

-- 21 children 12 years old and younger died while boating.

-- About 70 percent of all boating fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.

-- In all reported accidents, carelessness/reckless operation, operator inattention, operator inexperience and excessive speed were leading contributing factors.