WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- County Executive Robert P. Astorino and Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler, have issued some water safety tips to coincide with area pools opening for the season.
“Westchester County pools and beaches are staffed with trained lifeguards, but parents and guardians are the first line of defense for swim safety,” said Astorino. “Please watch your children when they are in or near the water, make sure they never swim alone and only swim a when a lifeguard is on duty.”
Westchester County’s Learn-to-Swim program is available at Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers, Playland Pool in Rye and Saxon Woods Pool in White Plains. Area YMCAs and municipal pools also offer swimming lessons.
“It’s also critical to always stay within arm’s reach of infants and toddlers in the water and to always keep your eyes on children playing in or near the shore,” said Amler. “Pool floats, inner tubes, water wings and noodles are no substitute for close supervision. Swimming and alcohol, just like boating and alcohol, don’t mix.”
Beach-goers should stay hydrated and protect their skin from both skin and mosquitoes with sunscreen followed by EPA-registered insect repellent.
“Be sure you and your family drink lots of water throughout the day at the pool or beach to avoid heat exhaustion,” said Amler. “Wear a hat and sunglasses, avoid the midday sun and reapply broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every two hours, especially after you swim or sweat, to avoid sunburn.”
Astorino and Amler advise the following swimming tips:
- Take swim lessons and sign up children for them as soon as they are old enough.
- Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
- Swim near a lifeguard and never swim alone.
- Don't swim in closed pools or beaches.
- Don’t drink alcohol when swimming or watching children in the water.
- Don't use floating toys like water wings and noodles for safety.
- Beware of rip currents at the beach. If caught in one, swim parallel to the shore and at an angle.
- At least one adult should supervise when children are in or around the water. Children should never be left unattended.
- Designate a water watcher to supervise children. The watcher should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone or otherwise be distracted.
- Watch all children in the water, even those that know how to swim.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapment.
- Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards.
- For home pools, install 4-sided fencing that’s at least 4 feet high and separates the pool from the house or yard. Gates should be self-closing and self-latching gates, open outward and be out of reach of children.
Check water and weather conditions before going swimming:
- Do not swim in the ocean, lakes, or rivers after heavy rain. Pollution is more likely after rain.
- Check for signs or warnings about bacteria or other pollution in the water.
- Get out of the water immediately if you hear thunder or see lightning. Strong winds can also be dangerous.
Protect yourself and others from germs in the water:
- Avoid getting water in the mouth.
- Everyone should be clean before swimming and have showered with soap. Wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
- Take your children on bathroom breaks and check diapers often. Diapers should be changed in a bathroom or changing area.
Protect your skin:
- Wear plenty of sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, and reapply every couple hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Be aware of swimmer's itch and blue-green algae bloom.
Avoid a recreational water illness:
- Shower before swimming and always wash hands after using the toilet and changing diapers.
- Do not drink water when swimming and avoid water consumption.
- Avoid pools, beaches and spray park features when afflicted with diarrhea.
- Patrons with children should take them to bathrooms and check their diapers often.