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PORTSMOUTH, VA (AP) — The US Coast Guard 5th District is emphasizing safety on the water following 40 drownings that occurred from northern New Jersey to southern North Carolina this summer.

A statement from the Coast Guard says that of the 40 boating- or swimming-related deaths, 34 people were not wearing lifejackets.

Capt. William Cameron, 5th District response chief, says regardless of how a person ends up in the water, wearing a lifejacket is the single most important precaution a person can take to increase their chances of survival when things go wrong.

The Coast Guard is strongly encouraging boaters and swimmers to take simple precautions like swimming in areas with lifeguards, getting a free, local vessel safety check and taking a boating safety course.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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