water safety

Nassau Officials Share Water Safety Tips Following Recent Tri-State Area Drownings

The tips come in the aftermath of numerous tri-state area drownings

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In an effort to keep residents safe, particularly in the aftermath of numerous tri-state area drownings, Nassau County officials released safety water tips for the summer months.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children 1-4 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children from age 1 to 14.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, on average, 150 children under the age of 15 drowned in pools, officials said citing 2019 statistics.

According to Nassau officials, just merely teaching a child how to swim does not mean they are safe in water and should be supervised by adults to prevent drowning, adding that even less than an inch of water proving to be dangerous.

Below are Nassau County tips on how to reduce drownings:

POOL

  • Never leave children alone in or near a pool;
  • Practice ‘touch supervision’ (a supervision method in which an adult is within an arm's length of a child at all times) with children younger than 5 years of age;
  • If you are planning a pool party, consider hiring a certified lifeguard to supervise the pool;
  • Put up a fence of at least 4 feet high, and with gates that self-close/self-latch higher than children's' reach, to separate your house from the pool to protect young children from wandering and falling into the pool;
  • The CDC recommends that before you get into a pool, to ensure that you can see the drain at the bottom of the pool's deep end to check to see that there is no cloudy pool water that reduces visibility of the pool;
  • Set an alarm at the doors so that you are alerted if a child attempts to leave the house to enter the yard where a pool is located;
  • Consider a pool alarm that alerts if someone enters the water;
  • Keep rescue equipment (like a pole with hook or life preserver) and a phone by the pool;
  • Do not use air-filled "swimming aids," like floaties, as a substitute for approved life vests;
  • Remove all toys from the pool after use so that children are not tempted to reach for them;
  • After children are done swimming, secure the pool so they cannot get back into it;
  • Place a safety cover on pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access;
  • A power safety cover that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) may add to protection.

DRAIN ENTRAPMENT

Drain entrapment, according to officials, in an incident when a part of a child's body become trapped in a drain due to its powerful suction in a pool or hot tub filtration system, or if a child's hair, swimsuit or other materials on the body become entangled in the drain. This suction can trap a child underwater.

Because drain entrapment poses a threat, officials offer the following tips:

  • Warn children about drain entrapment dangers, and teach them never to play near a pool drain, with or without a cover;
  • Pin up long hair when in the water and remove loose parts of swimsuits and jewelry that can get trapped;
  • Equip pools and hot tubs with an anti-entrapment drain cover and an approved safety vacuum release system and make sure covers have no cracks. Flat drain covers can be replaced with dome-shaped ones;
  • Be aware of public wading pools with missing or broken drain covers.

A string of recent drownings in the area have highlighted the importance of swimming safety.

2-year-old on Long Island was pulled from the water of a backyard pool in another drowning scare Tuesday.

Yellow tape blocked off the residential area around Barbara Drive in Centereach, as the toddler went under at a home's pool. The boy, whose relatives own the home where the pool is located, was not breathing and was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital. He was said to be in serious condition as of Wednesday morning, according to a Suffolk County police update.

Additionally, just last week two 13-year-olds, Ryan Wong and Daniel Persaud, were with a group of friends along Jamaica Bay when they fell into the water and were swept away. Wong survived, while his friend Persaud did not. His funeral was Tuesday.

Last month, another 2-year-old boy drowned in a backyard pool in Rockland County when the tri-state area was experiencing an unseasonably warm temperatures.

Drowning deaths are not just limited to New York. Various drownings have occurred in neighboring New Jersey over the past couple of weeks -- both in pools and open water.

Two people drowned at a New Jersey lake on the evening of June 14. Morris County officials said that EMS personnel were in the parking at Mine Hill Beach along Green Road after 5 p.m., when a group told them that two people went into the water at the sand pits and never came out.

The EMS contacted other first responders from the area, and immediately conducted a search, which came up empty for the 17-year-old and 20-year-old who disappeared, officials said.

Their bodies were recovered hours later.

In another tragedy, two brothers drowned at a school's indoor pool in Bayonne last week.

The school pool is open at night for community use, according to a city official, who said a lifeguard was on duty at the time of the incident. Their 11-year-old sister saw it happen, the official said.

The president of the Bayonne school board told NBC New York over the phone that there are two pools in the Lincoln Community School facility: the main pool where the community swim was held, and a smaller dive pool that is very deep.

The dive pool was closed and lifeguards were watching just the main pool — where everyone who was at the community swim event was supposed to be.

The two teen brothers, 16-year-old Jack Jiang and 19-year-old Chu Ming Zheng, drowned in that side dive pool, the school board official said. However, it was not immediately clear how the pair ended up in that pool.

These recent drowning comes as the nation, including the state of New York, is dealing with a lifeguard shortage.

This national lifeguard shortage forced New York City to eliminate a number of their swimming programs just ahead of the summer months, the city announced earlier this month.

NYC Parks tweeted that a number of their swim programs at their outdoor pools are canceled this summer due to not having enough lifeguards.

"Due to the national lifeguard shortage, unfortunately we will not be hosting swim programs, including lap swim, senior swim, and Learn to Swim, at our outdoor pools this summer," the tweet read in part.

Additionally, in an effort to deal with the lifeguard staffing shortage New York is currently facing, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced last week pay increases for state lifeguards.

The governor directed starting pay rates for lifeguards at upstate facilities to increase 34 percent -- from $14.95 to $20 an hour -- and 21 percent for lifeguards at downstate facilities -- from $18.15 to $22 an hour.

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