Supervisor Kate Murray, Senior Councilman Anthony J. Santino, Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad and Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin today kicked off Hempstead Town’s Beach Safety and Riptide Awareness Month at Town Park Point Lookout with a public awareness event highlighted by a lifeguard-led ocean rescue demonstration and the distribution of safety brochures to beachgoers. In addition to presenting potentially life-saving tips on beach and riptide safety, Murray also announced that Hempstead Town is the only municipality in the nation to receive three prestigious awards from the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA).
“As we enjoy the start of summer at our beautiful beaches, it’s important for neighbors to recognize the joy of playing in the ocean is accompanied by the p otential for danger,” Murray said. “Though our award-winning team of dedicated lifeguards is at the ready to protect and rescue, it’s crucial for neighbors to be educated on how they can prevent tragedies from happening.”
Indeed, Hempstead Town’s legacy of water protection and education has been saluted by the USLA, which has now recognized America’s largest township with awards in these three separate categories, including beach protection, public awareness and training/development. No other municipality in the nation has attained awards in three separate categories. Hempstead Town’s lifeguards, certified in first aid and CPR, make over 2,000 rescues a summer, including 500 of those considered life-threatening. Through nearly eight decades of lifeguarding at Hempstead Town, there has never been a drowning on protected beachfront.
With weather forecasters predicting dangerous rip currents in the area, Murray and Santino reminded beachogers of dangers posed by these powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from the shore. A main feature in the town’s beach safety brochure, rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves.
“When we say beware of the ‘grip of the rip,’ we mean it,” Santino said. “Even the most experienced swimmers can be endangered by rip currents, so it’s imperative to be prepared if a situation arises in the water.”
Among the tips included in Hempstead Town’s beach safety guide:
- If caught in a riptide, remember to remain calm and conserve energy – and do not fight against the current.
- Swim out of the current in the direction parallel to the shoreline; if unable to swim out of the current, float or calmly tread water.
- Swim parallel to the shoreline and then toward the beach when out of the current; or if unable to reach the shore, wave arms and yell for help.
- Other general safety tips include to never swim alone and never swim outside designated swimming areas.
During the demonstration, a team of Hempstead Town lifeguards performed a rescue drill that included a rip current recovery presentation.
Murray’s call for the latest beach safety initiative is part of Hempstead Town’s aggressive campaign to educate the public on the dangers posed by the water. That effort includes Hempstead Town’s informative pool safety brochure, which is available to the general public. To obtain a copy of the town’s beach and pool safety brochures, please call (516) 812-3307. The brochures can also viewed on the town’s website, at www.toh.li. Copies will also be distributed at town beaches.
Hempstead Town emphasizes preparation by providing swimming lessons to a variety of age groups for thousands of children at various locations across the township. For more information on swimming lessons offered by the Town of Hempstead, visit www.toh.li/activities/aquatics or call (516) 292-9000.
“During Hempstead Town’s Beach Safety and Riptide Awareness Month and throughout the summer, I encourage beachgoers to read this educational brochure and learn about a range of potentially life-saving tips for both children and adults,” Murray said. “With the weather starting to heat up, and more people venturing to our beaches, we are making it a priority to ensure they are prepared with this important life-saving information.”