State Parks, Department of Health remind swimmers to practice beach and pool safetyby jmaloni
With the final weeks of summer approaching, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the State Department of Health encourage all visitors to practice swim safety while enjoying New York State Parks' beaches and pools.
"From the iconic Jones Beach to the strikingly beautiful lakes in Central New York and beyond, the swimming areas in New York's state parks are undeniably popular destinations during the summer months," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "While enjoying the various swimming areas, we urge all visitors to please keep safety in mind for yourself and your loved ones." With 100-plus developed beaches, swimming pools and spray grounds, State Parks offer diverse swimming experiences.
First off, it is important to be aware that swimming in a lake or ocean is significantly different than swimming in a pool. Even experienced swimmers should consciously conserve energy while in an ocean or lake to ensure they have the strength to swim back to the shore.
"Swimming and other water-related activities are ideal ways to escape the summer heat and, at the same time, contribute to better health thanks to the physical activity involved," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav R. Shah. "However, safety must always be top priority. It is important that individuals swim in lifeguard-protected areas - when guards are on duty - and always ensure children in and around the water have proper supervision."
In addition, visitors are asked to utilize the following tips for an enjoyable, safe summer in the sun:
• Swim only in designated areas when the lifeguards are on duty.
- State parks host many types of recreational marine use, including boating, fishing, surfing, etc. For the safest swimming conditions, remain in areas specially designated for swimmers.
- Take advantage of the expanded swimming hours and lifeguard coverage on Long Island, implemented this year at several of its swim facilities to increase safe swimming opportunities.
• Be aware of the area's conditions.
- Lifeguards know the water they are guarding well. Use them as a resource to learn the safest swimming areas, and whether there have been any warnings or potential hazards that day.
- Leave the water at the first indication of bad weather.
• Keep a close watch on children in and around the water.
- Currents can change quickly, which can cause a loss of secure footing, even while in shallow water.
- Constant and active supervision is the best way to protect young swimmers.
• Don't rely on floatation devices.
- Floats can unexpectedly lose air, leaving the user - especially young or inexperienced swimmers - in a precarious situation.
- U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, types I, II and III, are the only floatation devices permitted in state park waters.
Finally, it is recommended to never swim alone; instead, enjoy the water with a friend or two who can alert others if assistance is needed.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation maintains and operates 179 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on swim safety, visitors are encouraged to follow State Parks on Facebook and Twitter for regular water and swim safety tips and information, as well as on the Web at www.nysparks.com and http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/swimming/.