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Boating deaths in Florida up 24 percent

There have been 76 boating fatalities in Florida this year, a 24 percent increase from 2009, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Although the FWC patrols Florida's waterways and strongly promotes boating safety year-round, this year's higher number of fatalities prompted an increased emphasis on prevention. At least 41 of the 76 deaths were due to drowning, the agency reports.

"The most unfortunate part about these statistics is boating fatalities are usually preventable," said Capt. Tom Shipp, of the FWC's Boating and Waterways Section, in a statement. "One of the best ways to prevent a drowning is simply to wear a life jacket. Boaters don't always expect to find themselves in the water, but if they do, a life jacket can save a life."

Although a few unusual accidents have occurred this year, the majority are similar to those of recent years. They involve boaters failing to pay attention to their surroundings, neglecting to wear life jackets and operating at a high speed.

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