NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Many Western Massachusetts families enjoy the Labor Day weekend on a boat. But after some tragedies on the water this summer, some have stressed the importance of wearing life jackets.
"We've had a boat since 2007. It's been lots of fun for the past few years. It's what we do mostly every weekend that's available, especially if it's a great day like this," said Natani Dugger of Springfield.
Most everyone who climbs aboard a boat for a day on the water plans to enjoy themselves-- but it's just as important to plan for something bad to happen, too.
"They've got to know in the compartment. If the Environmental Police come around, they have to know where all the safety stuff is. Where to go, what to do. It's good to know where all your safety stuff is, horns, whistles, stuff along those lines," said Todd Warren of Springfield.
Some boat days start out clear and sunny but don't end that way. Boaters say it's especially important during those times when the weather changes fast to be prepared out on the water.
"It started to rain and it was pretty much a torrential downpour. Lots of boats in the water and you couldn't see more than 10 feet in front of you," Dugger said.
"The storm came upon us so quickly that it proves the point you don't know how long you have until an issue comes around where you may need some sort of life saving equipment," said Jason Turcotte of Ware.
State law says there must be a life jacket for every person on board, and children 12 and under must wear them at all times. 758 people died while boating last year, and more than half of them could have been saved by wearing a life jacket.
There are three types of life jackets available for people; type 3 being the most common. But there are even life jackets available for pets to wear, so that all the members of your family enjoy the water and safely make it back to shore.