State Health Commissioner Advises Caution When Swimming

Enjoy the Summer and Stay Healthy!

Albany, NY, August 2, 2007 - State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today reminded New Yorkers to swim safely this summer to avoid injury and drowning. The number of drownings in New York continues to decrease each year, with 151 drownings reported at state regulated pools and beaches during the last 20 years, while the number of people seeking water recreation each summer has increased.

"Drowning is a leading cause of injury and death among children under age 5. Always swim with a friend and make sure children are supervised by an adult," said Dr. Daines.

The State Health Department regulates 6,435 swimming pools and 1,600 bathing beaches. Swimming at a regulated pool or beach provides a safe and healthy environment with state certified lifeguards and ready access to life safety equipment.

State and local health departments conduct thorough investigations of the few drownings that occur at state regulated public swimming pools and beaches. New York State continues to have the lowest number of drownings nationally at the rate of 0.50 unintentional drowning deaths per 100,000 New York State residents for the period of 2002-2004.

Swimming Safety Tips:

  • Make backyard pools inaccessible to children, unless an adult is directly supervising them.
  • Don't drink alcohol if you plan on going swimming or boating. Alcohol slows reaction time and affects balance and judgment.
  • Use extra caution if you have a medical condition, such as a seizure disorder, diabetes or a heart problem that can cause disability or loss of consciousness while in the water.
  • Remember that swimming in unregulated waters carries dangers of strong currents, unmonitored water quality and underwater hazards.
  • Proper fencing should be constructed in accordance with the State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code. Use self-closing, self-latching gates.
  • Be aware that solar covers may delay the discovery of a submerged child. When checking a pool for a missing child, make sure the cover is completely removed.
  • When boating, always wear a personal flotation device that has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

For more information about safe swimming and steps to prevent water-related accidents, please visit the Department's Web site at www.health.ny.gov