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Tips on boating safety

SANTA ROSA COUNTY -- Many of our local water ways are full of boats this holiday weekend, but it hasn't been easy going for everyone.
Friday afternoon search and rescue crews recovered the body of Louie Baca, 56, after he went overboard in a late night fishing trip in Pensacola Bay.

Every year many people lose their lives or are injured in boating related accidents in the U.S.
Closer to home, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission has had its hands full dealing with boating accidents from Destin to Pensacola, including a drowning, where Baca, 56 fell off a fishing boat Friday morning, without wearing a life vest.

Our cameras caught Chad Craft loading up his boat on the Blackwater River.
Craft says he's been boating since he was a teenager.
He learned early on to take safety seriously on the water.

"If you're not capable of swimming, and don't think you can keep up with the tide or current, and keep yourself up, and out of water then wear something that's going to keep you floating" said Chad Craft, Boater.

Other boaters like Paul Thornton also take precautions before hitting the water.

"We make sure we have our vests, the fire extinguisher and the whistles and everything that is required for safety" said Paul Thornton, Boater.

The added boat traffic increases the chance of swimmers in the water so boaters should adhere to no wake zones.
The US Coast Guard recommends boat operators should conduct regular vessel safety checks, make sure occupants have on life vests, and always have a float plan so rescuers can quickly provide assistance in case of an emergency.

Remember by law if you're involved in a boating accident, you're required to report it.