May Is Water Safety Month, Tips to Avoid Tragedies
Suffolk County Press Release
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has declared May Water Safety Month and joined with Suffolk County’s Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services (FRES), the Department of Health and the Long Island Drowning Prevention Task Force to offer residents water safety tips and urge residents to use caution while enjoying pools, beaches and waterparks.
National Water Safety Month is celebrated in May through educational programs, public service announcements, governmental proclamations, dealer and business promotions and the distribution of water-safety-themed materials. It is a project of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP), the American Red Cross, the National Recreation & Park Association (NRPA) and the World Waterpark Association (WWA).
“With Memorial Day approaching, residents and visitors will be headed to our many beaches or to pools,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “Common sense and awareness of the dangers will help keep our families out of harm’s way. Suffolk County has taken several steps to reduce dangers around water.”
Among the steps taken to improve water safety is enforcement by the Suffolk County Department of Consumer Affairs of a requirement that retail stores selling pools remind customers that state law mandates alarms on pools with a capacity of at least 24 inches of water.
In addition, the County requires that those engaged in the service or maintenance of swimming pools and spas are register with the Department of Labor, Licensing & Consumer Affairs. Those who build, install and service swimming pools and spas are still required to maintain a Suffolk County Home Improvement License, demonstrate a minimum of 2 years of experience and provide either APSP’s Certified Service Technician, Certified Service Professional or Certified Builder Professional Certificate, depending on work performed.
“Water can be dangerous; people have to have safer behavior, in, on or near any water,” Bobby Hazen, founder of the Long Island Drowning Prevention Task Force, a community service organization. “People have to understand what the risks are and have that safety behavior when you’re near it. Drowning is a leading cause of death for children under 5, so our big message is that a child should never be near the water without an adult, and no one should be swimming alone. Drowning is a silent event; it’s not like what you see in the movies. Always have a buddy.”
In addition, the Suffolk County Department of Health offers these safety tips:
• Vigilance-Parents/caregivers should supervise at all times, keeping a constant watch on children.
• Check the pool first if a child is missing.
• Remove towels on the fence and nearby shrubbery that can obstruct view of the pool.
• Maintain a four-sided, perimeter fence with a self-locking gate
• If the house forms one side of the fencing, all doors leading to the pool area must be self-locking.
• Put alarms on doors and pool surface to provide additional safety.
• Provide swimming lessons for all pool users.
• Remember children playing in water tire quickly; insist on rest breaks and watch for signs of fatigue.
• Explain pool rules – stress safety near water, no running or “horseplay.”
• Familiarize children with water depths and “safe areas” to play.
• Have a responsible person trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
• Post emergency phone numbers near the pool, and keep a phone nearby
• Empty/turn over all kiddie pools and portable pools when not in use.
• Make sure pool safety equipment is operational.
• Store pool chemicals safely, and install a pool safety cover.
• Remove ladders from above ground pools when not in use.
• Check state and local building codes for regulations on backyard pools.