Congamond drowning could’ve been prevented with life jackets

Boats longer than 16 feet are required to have safety cushions that can be tossed for someone to grab in the water

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – A drowning victim is still missing one day after a man jumped from a boat to swim in the Congamond Lake’s Middle Pond Thursday. He wasn’t wearing a life jacket, but had he, the accident could have been prevented. Life jackets aren’t glamorous, but had that man been wearing one when he jumped overboard, it could’ve saved his life.

“It definitely would’ve helped the situation,” says James Brunelle of the Brunelle Marina in South Hadley. “Depending on where they were, it keeps your head above water so you can breathe right and maintain time for rescue by the time someone got there.”

Search for missing swimmer at Congamond Lakes called off for the day

Regardless of swimming ability, everyone on a boat should be wearing a personal flotation device. The Coast Guard requires a life jacket for everyone on board. James Brunelle displayed different types of life jackets, and how they’re worn.

The Coast Guard recommends adults use standard orange life vests. After putting the flotation device over your head, wrap the buckle around your waist, and secure the buckle to keep the life jacket on you. Jet skiing life jackets typically have a front zipper with buckles around the waist to tighten the vest against your chest. The idea is to have the jacket snug against your entire chest.

Boats longer than 16 feet are required to have safety cushions that can be tossed for someone to grab in the water. Boaters should also carry first aid kits, flares, and paddles.

The Coast Guard offers safety classes, and it’s suggested all boaters take the course.