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Coast Guard issues updated water safety guidelines

KELLY ZEGERS PHOTOA kayaker on Peconic Bay late last month.
KELLY ZEGERS PHOTO A kayaker on Peconic Bay late last month.

As the popularity of paddle craft — such as kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards — increases across the country, so have related marine incidents.

According to the United States Coast Guard, 143 paddle sport enthusiasts died nationwide in 2015, accounting for about 29 percent of all boating deaths that year.

In 2016 the Northeast saw 28 paddler deaths, which is double the national average, and 167 people throughout the country died while using a canoe, kayak or paddleboard, the Coast Guard reported.

With this in mind, the Coast Guard has recently released new water safety guidelines for paddle craft. These include requiring paddlers to wear life vests and carry whistles or other sound-making devices. At night or in low-visibility conditions, paddlers must also carry a white light with them.

The Coast Guard also urges people to label their vessels with their name and two working phone numbers.

Other Coast Guard recommendations include carrying a VHF-FM marine radio and a personal locator beacon.

They also caution people to be mindful of wind direction.