2009-08-07 / School News

Educating Youth On Water Safety

Students review the rules of the beach and discuss the equipment used by lifeguards to save lives. Students review the rules of the beach and discuss the equipment used by lifeguards to save lives. In the wake of last week's tragic drowning off Beach 25 Street, as well as several near drowning incidents that occurred on various beaches along the Rockaway Peninsula last weekend, one of the major issues facing the Rockaways is the number of local residents who cannot swim and the fact that so many people do not pay attention to the lifeguards or even to their own safety while on the beach.

Rockaway Waterfront Alliance has spent years working to establish safer beaches for the public as well as advocating for improved lifeguard coverage of local beaches, but each year water rescues remain a common occurrence.

Many of those incidents could have been avoided through public awareness and water safety education.

Last week youth in the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance summer program met with Former Chief Lifeguard Janet Fash to discuss water safety. Fash was the first female Chief Lifeguard in Rockaway some 35 years ago and has been a familiar face on Rockaways beaches ever since. As a tireless advocate of public safety, Fash has rescued countless individuals off our shores and trained numerous lifeguards and members of the community on this very issue.

RWA youth met with Fash, to discuss issues centered around the danger of Rockaway's waterfront and learn about the do's and don'ts when attending the beach.

"There is no one more qualified to discuss this issue than Janet Fash. She has spent her life's work trying to educate the public and help to save lives. I only wish there were more programs and public safety being done to inform local youth and the general public on this subject. This basic information could save so many people from drowning," said RWA Director Jeanne DuPont.

Fash talked to the youth about how they can build positive relationships with the waters of Rockaway.

"The tides are strong and can be dangerous," said Fash as she explained rip currents, "but you have to understand how to be safe, how the oceans work, and how to enjoy the water. You don't have to be afraid of the water, but you do have to be very alert and smart to stay safe."

This past week there were many people who found themselves in danger in the ocean, and there is no better time for the public to reach out to American Red Cross and US Lifeguard Association to learn what they can do to be safe off our shores.

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