2010-06-11 / Community

Weiner Promotes Rip Tide Safety At Riis Park

By Nicholas Briano

Congressman Anthony Weiner and Dave Taft, coordinator of the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, talk about the dangers of riptides at Riis Park. Congressman Anthony Weiner and Dave Taft, coordinator of the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, talk about the dangers of riptides at Riis Park. Summer is here and Congressman Anthony Weiner was out on the beach at Riis Park on Tuesday to raise awareness about the dangers of rip tides on the shores of Rockaway’s beaches.

He also announced plans to introduce new legislation to increase funding for lifeguard training, which would be available through federal grants.

“While we all love to enjoy spending time at the beach, we must be aware of the hidden danger posed by riptides,” Weiner said. “Last year there were six drownings at Rockaway Beach – all of them attributed to riptides. By staying informed and alert, swimmers can remain safe and enjoy themselves all summer long.”

Weiner said there have been 28 drownings at New York City beaches since 2000, 18 of which were attributed to riptides. In 2009, there were six drownings in New York City that were attributed to riptides, up from two the previous year. Rockaway beaches remain the most dangerous, accounting for 20 drownings or 70 percent of the 28 drownings since 2000.

New York City Chief Lifeguard Janet Fash; Riis Park lifeguard, Rita Brodfurer; Congressman Weiner; and Dave Taft at Riis Park on Tuesday. New York City Chief Lifeguard Janet Fash; Riis Park lifeguard, Rita Brodfurer; Congressman Weiner; and Dave Taft at Riis Park on Tuesday. According to New York City Chief Lifeguard Janet Fash, the best way to safely escape riptides is to understand what to look for and know what to do when caught in one. Riptides can be recognized on the surface when unusually choppy water is moving in a straight line away from the beach.

If caught in a rip current, Fash says, a swimmer should not fight the current, but float or swim parallel to the shore until the current subsides. It should also be known that staying in shallow water doesn’t protect a swimmer any more than deeper waters.

“Most drownings occur between five to ten feet of water,” Weiner said. “You don’t need to be out too far to be pulled by a rip current.”

The legislation that Weiner proposes would direct the Department of Education to provide grants to cities for lifeguard training with an emphasis on rip current awareness and tactics to rescue swimmers trapped in them.

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