By Associated Press - Friday, July 3, 2020

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts officials are urging boaters to take caution on the water after an increase in fatal accidents in the Northeast.

Officials on Friday said the state’s inland and coastal waters are expected to be busy over the July Fourth weekend. They reminded boaters to use flotation devices, to travel at reasonable speeds and to avoid operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

More residents have been using the state’s parks and waters recently, but “unfortunately we’ve also seen an increase in boating accidents in the commonwealth, some resulting in tragedy,” said Kathleen Theoharides, secretary of energy and environmental affairs.

As of June 26, fatal boating accidents in the Northeast had doubled compared to the same period last year, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard says it will have an increased presence over the weekend as part of a national campaign to stop boaters operating under the influence.

Theoharides also urged residents heading to beaches and parks to avoid large groups and to wear face coverings.

“We encourage everyone who feels healthy to enjoy the great outdoors,” she said. “But it’s still important that we all do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

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