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Monday, July 19, 2010

Bronx Public Pools; Community Leaders Demand Action; and Swimming Safety Tips

I was planning on posting this anyway, but it seems to have added importance now in light of the tragedy that claimed the lives of two teens in the Bronx River yesterday.

There are 10 public pools in the Bronx, (just click on "Bronx" tab if Bronx pools don't immediately show up) according to the Parks Department's Web site. On hot summer days they are crowded of course, and there are a lot of rules, but they are safe and fun. Yesterday I waited in line with my family for about half an hour in the late afternoon at the Van Cortlandt Park Pool and despite the heat and a long line everyone was patient. The large pool was crowded but hard to find a face among the hundreds without a smile on it. The wading pool was less crowded and lots of little kids and their parents were having a blast there, too.The pools have a number of programs including swimming classes for all ages, and free meal programs for those that qualify. I'm not sure about the other pools, but Van Cortlandt has lap swimming for adults in the early morning, from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

In light of the Bronx River tragedy, Assemblyman Peter Rivera and Community Board 6 chair Ivine Galarza are calling on Police and Parks departments to better patrol the area where the teens drowned. Despite the "No Swimming" signs, it's long been a popular place for kids to swim in the summer heat.

“This is a high risk situation that should come as no surprise to the New York City Parks Department as they have been repeatedly notified in writing as to the safety issues and dangers of not having patrols in this area," Galarza said in a statement. "This community is still waiting for a formal reply and the necessary action to prevent another tragedy as we experienced yesterday.”

Meanwhile, St. Barnabas Hospital has released some tips for swimmers. We reprint it here in full after the jump. 

The recent drowning of two Bronx teens points out the importance in practicing good water safety.    Dr. Ernest Patti, emergency room director at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, offers the following advice:
  • Know your limits.  If you don’t swim well, stay away from deep water (anything above your knees).
  • Swim in safe areas only where lifeguards are on duty.  All too often, people swim in rivers, creeks, etc. where sunken hazards exist, and there is the threat of being caught under water.  Never swim where there are no lifeguards – at the same time, don’t take unnecessary changes even if the pool or beach has lifeguards on duty.
  • Never dive headfirst.  The bottom may be shallower than it appears.  This is the biggest cause of neck injuries and paralysis.
  • Use the buddy system.  Never go in the water alone.
  • Never use alcohol or drugs when swimming.  They impair your ability to swim, breathe properly and maintain proper body temperature.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.  A sunburn may not be the worst thing that can happen to you, but it is easily avoidable by using the proper protection.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and cramps.  Even strong swimmers can become incapacitated when becoming dehydrated.
  • Watch out for watercraft.  Don’t depend on boaters seeing you – you are equally responsible watching out for them.  
“Very often, it comes down to using common sense,” said Dr. Patti.   “We’ve had too many tragedies in recent months.  Sadly, they all could have been avoided.” 
  • In the summer, between May and August, drowning deaths among children increase 89 percent over the rest of the year.
  • On average, an annual 3,600 injuries occur to children due to a near-drowning incident.
  • For people between the ages of 5 and 24, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death.
  • Children ages 4 and under have the highest drowning death rate (two times greater than other age groups) and account for 80 percent of home drownings.
  • Male children have a drowning rate twice that of female children.
  • Black children ages 5 to 14 have a drowning rate three times that of their white counterparts.
  • Low-income children are at greater risk from non-swimming pool drownings.


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