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U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety event

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary member Keith Gregory, performs boat inspections in Washington Park Marina in Michigan City.

The numbers tell a sobering tale of just how dangerous our Region waterways can be when recreational boaters or swimmers don't have the right tools, training or knowledge.

On Sunday, a Times computer-assisted probe of U.S. Coast Guard data revealed at least 65 boating accidents on Lake, Porter and LaPorte county waterways over 10 years led to 14 deaths.

Those accidents also racked up at least $627,655 in damages.

Boating under the influence of alcohol led to at least 15 percent of the accidents, about 62 percent of which occurred on the Region's span of Lake Michigan.

And the experts note lack of experience is a common denominator in the incidence of Region boating accidents.

As we head into the summer season, the numbers are a stark reminder for Region boaters to glean proper safety training — through the U.S. Coast Guard and Region boating and yacht clubs.

Watercraft operators also should remember boating while drunk carries some of the same safety hazards, criminal charges and penalties associated with drunken driving.

Our Sunday probe of boating accidents carried an information graphic we hope all Region summer beach and pool goers will take to heart.

Between 2005 and 2014, an average of about 10 people per day died in accidental drownings in the United States.

The National Safety Council recommends a number of practices to keep you or your families from becoming part of the statistics.

Chief among those recommendations is formal swimming lessons for the entire family — especially children.

Learning CPR and ensuring enough life jackets are available on boating trips for everyone aboard also are key survival tips.

Local branches of the YMCA are a good place to start for swimming lessons, as are some private swimming schools.

Before Memorial Day weekend ushered in the unofficial opening of the Region boating and outdoor swimming season, Northwest Indiana experienced its first drowning death of 2018.

On May 5, Glenn Zeman, 61, died when his small fishing boat capsized on a private pond just east of Westville. Authorities said he wasn't wearing a life jacket, nor were any available in the boat.

Lake Michigan and scores of other creeks, rivers and ponds are among the Region's best recreational assets.

Let's be mindful of safety so those assets can be associated with summer fun, not tragedy.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Local News Editor Marc Chase, Lake County Editor Crista Zivanovic, Porter/LaPorte County Editor Doug Ross and Deputy Local Editor Erin Orr.