Southwick town officials reiterate lake safety

It is very crowded this time of year on Congamond Lake and safety needs to be reminded. (WNG File Photo)

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The official start of summer has just arrived and Fourth of July is right around the corner, meaning that Congamond Lake is about to hit its highest peak of popularity. But as large numbers of people use the lake, concerns for safety increase.

So far this season emergency services personnel in Southwick have had to deal with one drowning on Middle Pond and they are hoping it is the last of the year but the reality is that it may not be.

Town officials who keep a close eye on Southwick’s body of water, noted several easily remedied hazards that they are hoping to see disappear this summer and moving forward.

Dick Grannells, who is the Chairman of the Lake Management Committee, was quick to point out instances where boats are well over their capacity. According to Grannells, every boat has a placard which either gives the limit on the amount of people on that particular boat or the weight limit in pounds.

While there are a number of dangers with a boat being overcrowded, Congamond Lake Harbormaster and Town Police Chief David Ricardi is very concerned when there is someone on a boat who is a non-swimmer.

“If that boat goes down, so does that non-swimmer,” said Ricardi.

Another vital, and correctable, hazard to remind the public is that boats going through the channels have to comply with both sides of the law.

“No wake and five mph are mutually exclusive,” said Grannells. “It doesn’t mean one or the other.”

Both Grannells and Ricardi also want to make lake-users understand that drinking alcohol while driving a boat is definitely against the law.

“I would hope that everybody would adhere to that because it is an offense to operate a boat under the influence and we will be looking for that,” said Ricardi.

Despite the fact that fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts, the harbormaster wants individuals to realize that lighting off fireworks from their boats may not be the best idea either.

“We don’t want to see anybody get hurt because of fireworks,” said Ricardi.

If anyone that regularly uses Congamond Lake or is planning on being a visitor this summer and has any questions or comments, contact the Southwick Police Department at 413-569-5348. If there is an emergency on the lake, please dial 911 immediately.

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