Hempstead Town Responds to Teen Beach Drowning— Holds Memorial Day Weekend “Rip Tide” Awareness Event, Distributes Beach Safety Guide

On the heels of the tragic drowning of a teenager at Rockaway Beach this past week, Supervisor Anthony J. Santino, Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito held a “rip tide” awareness seminar during the Memorial Day weekend.  The public awareness event was highlighted by a lifeguard-led ocean rescue demonstration and the distribution of safety brochures to beachgoers. 

“As we prepare for the start of summer, we are determined to prevent a repeat of the tragic drowning that occurred at a New York City beach this past week,” stated Santino.  “With the joys of swimming at the beach comes the potential for genuine danger.  That is why we are working hard to educate the public on how to prevent beach tragedies, and our informational guide deals with avoiding perilous rip currents.”

Sadly, a 19-year-old swimmer drowned on Wednesday, May 25th, after spending an hour trapped by rough waters, succumbing to a strong rip tide.  Hempstead Town officials are distributing a beach safety guide, which includes information on rip currents, at town beaches during the Memorial Day weekend.  The guide is also being mailed to all town residents.  

With weather forecasters predicting dangerous rip currents in the area, Santino reminded beachgoers of dangers posed by these powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from the shore.  The town’s lifeguards are expertly trained to deal with ocean rescues, including rip current crises.  In fact, there has never been a drowning on a Town of Hempstead beach while lifeguards have been on duty.  The guards are certified in first aid and CPR. They make over 2,000 rescues per summer, including 500 which are considered life threatening.  Indeed, the township’s guards have been recognized for their skill by the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA).

“It’s reassuring that our town lifeguards are keeping beachgoers safe, especially in light of the dangerous rip currents that have been occurring at area beaches,” said King Sweeney.  “It’s critical that beachgoers only swim in areas where lifeguards are on duty,” added D’Esposito.

“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 never swimming alone, and never swimming outside designated swimming areas.

During the demonstration, a team of Hempstead Town lifeguards performed a rescue drill that included a rip current recovery presentation. 

To obtain a copy of the town’s beach and pool safety brochures, please call (516) 812-3307.  The brochures can also be 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.

“Please, take time to review the town’s guide to beach safety,” concluded Santino.  “By taking a few precautions while swimming in the ocean, you can ensure a fun and safe summer.”