Between now and Labor Day weekend, thousands of boaters are enjoying time on the water with family and friends. Following safe and responsible boating practices, including wearing a life jacket, can make each time you are on the water fun while being prepared for an emergency situation. In 2011, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,588 accidents that involved 758 deaths, 3,081 injuries and approximately $52 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. Of those drowned, 84 percent were not wearing life jackets. The statistics show that no matter where you are boating, following boating safety, being properly prepared and equipped, and always wearing a life jacket can help save many lives. Follow these five life jacket safety tips from the National Safe Boating Council to prevent drowning and promote safe boating practices. 1. No matter what activity you have planned – boating, fishing, sailing, etc. – always remember to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water. 2. Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Double-check that your life jacket is appropriate for your boating activity. 3. Take the time to ensure a proper fit. 4. Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.” 5. On recreational vessels underway, children under 13 years old must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket unless they are below decks or in an enclosed cabin. Some state laws vary – check with your local Marine Law Enforcement Authorities. Tennessee ranks 8th in the nation in the number of deaths in boating accidents.