SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – The July 4th holiday weekend is typically one the busiest boating weekends of the summer. With the increased water traffic, it’s important for people to take precautions.

22News visited Brunelle’s Marina in South Hadley Sunday morning, where owner Luke Brunelle was anticipating a big boating turnout.

“There will be a lot of people boating,” Brunelle said. “It’s been a fast start this morning. There will be a few hundred people who will launch out of here today.” And that’s why he urges boaters follow safety guidelines.

“Be courteous to your fellow boater,” Brunelle continued. “Give everybody plenty of space. If somebody’s coming toward you, you’re not sure which way they’re going to go, slow down.”

He also stressed that life jackets are mandatory for children 14 and under, and are highly encouraged for adults as well.

A recent report from the U.S. Coast Guard found that 81% of boating fatalities last year were due to drowning Of those drowning victims, 83% were not wearing a life jacket.

Alcohol use aboard boats was also found to have led to serious injury and death last year, which Brunelle says is avoidable.

“Keep a sober captain on the boat all the time,” he said. And taking precaution doesn’t have to take away any of the fun, boaters at Brunelle’s have gotten creative with their safety measures.

Todd Calkins of South Hadley told 22News, “We take the life jacket and reverse it. Put your legs through and use it like a, we call it a diaper, and actually you can just sit there and float and relax.”

A life-long boater and Chief of South Hadley Fire District 2, Calkins has seen first-hand what can go wrong when safety is ignored.

“It’s your loved ones in the boat, so just use some common sense,” Calkins said.

The 3 C’s: Caution, Courtesy and Common sense are the key to a safe, enjoyable day on the boat.