EMFD raises pool and beach safety awareness


The volunteers at the East Meadow Fire Department urge our residents to take all necessary precautions this year to guard against pool and beach tragedies.

Unfortunately, it takes just seconds for a child to drown. Drowning is the leading cause of death in many states for children under the age of five. Small children are top-heavy, and they don't have the upper body strength to lift themselves out of one of these dangerous situations. Even if the child survives the incident, they are often left with permanent brain damage.

Your diligence to follow these simple instructions can make the difference for a friend or loved one.

Swimming Pools

* Know where your children are at all times. Never allow children to be alone near a pool or any water source, no exceptions. And if you leave the pool area, always take the children with you.

* Use an approved barrier to separate the pool from the house.

* Have life-saving devices near the pool, such as a pole/hook, or flotation device.

* Keep large objects such as tables, chairs, toys, and ladders away from pool fences.

* Be sure the number of your local Rescue Squad is attached to your phone. East

Meadow Fire District residents must call 542-0576 to report an emergency.

* Do not allow children to play near the pool and store all toys outside the pool area.

* For when all else fails, have an approved pool alarm to detect a mishap.

* Learn to swim and teach your children no matter the age.

* Never swim alone, or while under the influence of alcohol or medications.

* Never swim during a thunderstorm.

* Never dive into unfamiliar or shallow bodies of water.

Respect electricity near your pool or hot tub

In recent years, news stories have surfaced of electrocutions through accidents with common small appliances accidentally entering a tub. We are hopeful our residents can learn much about the dangers of electricity around water by applying this knowledge to your swimming pool safety.

Summer is the time of year to have swimming pool equipment, hot tubs and spas inspected, and then properly maintained to make sure that life saving measures such as ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection and all grounding and bonding systems are functioning properly.

Steps to stay from electrocutions

Source: the National Fire Proptection Association

* Look out for underwater lights that are not working properly, flicker or work intermittently.

* If tingling occurs, immediately stop swimming in your current direction. Try and swim in a direction where you had not felt the tingling, Exit the water as quickly as possible and avoid using metal ladders or rails. Touching metal may increase the risk of shock.

* Do not swim before, during or after thunderstorms.

* Have a qualified electrician periodically inspect and—where necessary—replace or upgrade the electrical devices or equipment that keep your pool, spa or hot

tub electrically safe. Have him/her show you how to turn off all power in case of an emergency.

* Make sure that any overhead lines maintain the proper distance over a pool and other structures, such as a diving board. If you have any doubts, contact a

qualified electrician or local utility company to make sure power lines are a safe distance away.

* If you are putting in a new pool, hot tub or spa be sure the wiring is performed by an electrician experienced in the special safety requirements for these types

of installations.

* Electrical appliances, equipment and cords should be kept at least 6 feet away from the water. When possible, use battery-operated instead of cord-connected appliances and equipment, such as televisions, radios, and stereos.

* If someone is in trouble from a electrical malfunction, stay clear. Immediately shut down the power source, and contact your East Meadow Fire Department at

542-0576. Any attempt to free the person in distress can result in you becoming a victim as well.

Ocean and beach

* Make sure lifeguards are on duty and ask about surf conditions before going in the water.

* Swim only in areas where lifeguards are present. Only swim in designated areas.

* Never dive in the surf headfirst. The water is not always clear and you may not notice any obstructions or how shallow the water in front of you is.

* Carry flotation devices for your safety. Swim parallel to the shore if you want to swim long distances.

* Like with a pool, never drink alcohol and swim.

* Children can fall below the surface in a second, and it can be impossible to find them fast enough. Always hold the hands of younger children. Sudden changes in surf direction can separate them from you in an instant.

* Swim parallel to the shore if you want to swim long distances.

* Lightning strikes at the beach are common in thunderstorms. If you hear thunder, get out of the water immediately. Seek shelter in a building or automobile. Don't sit under an umbrella, and stay away from metal objects like aluminum chairs as they can become a conductor.

* If you get into trouble in the water, don't panic. Raise and wave your arm for help, float and wait for assistance.

* Wear sunscreen, with at least a level 15 sun protection factor, to protect against burns.

About riptides

* Often mistakenly called undertows, these powerful currents pull even experienced swimmers away from shore. Panic and drowning often result.

* Signs are a difference in water color: either murkier from sediments or darker from greater depth.

* A difference in the waves: larger, choppier waves in the rip current; smaller, calmer waves in front of the bar.

* Foam or objects moving steadily seaward.

* An offshore plume of turbid water past the sandbars. Polarized sunglasses cut

glare and help to spot rip currents.

* If caught in a riptide, don't panic. Call for help while swimming parallel to the shoreline. This will allow you to move laterally out of the current in stable water.

The Officers and Members of the East Meadow Fire Department would like to wish each of you and your family, a happy, healthy, and safe summer season. 

John J. O'Brien is an active Ex Chief of the East Meadow Fire Department. He is the District Supervisor of the Jericho Fire District and has over 30 years of Dispatch and Supervisory experience.