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Boating? Skip the Booze

If your Memorial Day plans include time on the water in your canoe, kayak or raft -- and I hope they do! -- you might want to leave the cooler at home.

A study in last week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that of 38 people who died while canoeing, kayaking, or rafting in Maine in 2006, fewer than a third were wearing life jackets, and 5 had blood alcohol levels that exceeded the legal limit for driving or boating.

Twenty-three of the deaths were by drowning after capsizing; 8 people died after falling overboard.

And, for the record, 92 percent of those who died were guys.

I don't know about you, but I can barely paddle a kayak while stone sober; I can't imagine trying it while tipsy. But I do understand the lure of a cold beer on a hot summer's day, especially when you're out having fun with your buddies.

I want you all to have a fun weekend -- and a safe one, so you'll be around to read The Checkup for a long time. So, take the experts' advice: don't drink while you're on the water or the road, wear that life jacket even if it's hot and makes you look like a dork, and take the time to get properly trained before you go out on your boat. Check this site for safety tips aimed specifically at paddlers. (Though much of the advice definitely applies to other kinds of boats, too.)

Happy Memorial Day!

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  May 23, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Alcohol and Drugs  
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