OLYMPIA – Last month, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a proclamation designating the week of July 21 through July 27 Paddle Safe Week.

The declaration was made in response to the growing number of accidents involving paddlecraft which are occurring annually in Washington.

Since 2012, nearly half of all the deaths in the state which were categorized as boating fatalities involved paddle sports.

Capsizing and swamping are the leading type of accident involving paddlecraft, while drowning is the number one cause of death linked to their use.

This week’s Paddle Safe observance will allow officials with the State Parks Boating Program to place additional attention on their litany of recommended guidelines for paddle sports safety.

Along with precautions like checking the weather forecast, avoiding the consumption of alcohol and drugs while paddling, and protecting against cold-water shock, the most critical item of emphasis on this list is wearing a life jacket, since most of the paddlers who drown failed to do so.

To find the full list of safety tips and learn more about sound paddling practices, visit the Washington State Parks website by clicking here.