County Executive Robert Astorino kicked-off the county’s summer pool and beach season with a splash at Tibbets Brook Pool in Yonkers on Friday, June 23. Astorino was joined by Parks Commissioner Kathleen O’Connor and Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, M.D., to share safety tips that help residents and their families make the most of this summer.
“We have a terrific team of lifeguards at all our pools and beaches,” Astorino said. “But parents and guardians are the first line of defense for swim safety. Please watch your children when they are in or near the water, make sure they never swim alone and only swim a when a lifeguard is on duty.”
All county pools are now open and county beaches have been opened since May 27. Tibbetts Brook Park, Saxon Woods Park and Willson’s Waves pools are open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily through Sept. 4; Playland Pool and the beaches at Playland, Glen Island and Croton Point are open Wednesdays through Sundays and on Monday, July 3, and Tuesday, July 4.
“One of the most joyful parts of my job is seeing our residents and their guests enjoy a day in our pools and at our beaches,” O’Connor said. “I am pleased to join with the County Executive and the Health Department today to stress the importance of staying safe while you have fun in and near the water.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury or death among children ages one to four years old and the second leading cause among children ages five to nine years old, Amler added.
“It’s also critical to always stay within arm’s reach of infants and toddlers in the water and to always keep your eyes on children playing in or near the shore,” said Almer. “Pool floats, inner tubes, water wings and noodles are no substitute for close supervision. Swimming and alcohol, just like boating and alcohol, don’t mix.”
Westchester County’s Learn-to-Swim program is offered for both children and adults throughout the county at Tibbetts Brook Park, Playland Pool, and Saxon Woods Pool in White Plains. For more information and to register for the program, go to Parks.westchestergov.com/learn-to-swim. Swimming lessons are also offered at many local YMCAs and at municipal pools.
In or out of the water, the summer sun can cause health risks that can be easily prevented.
“Anyone spending time outdoors, whether for recreation or work, should always protect their skin from the effects of the summer sun,” Amler said. “Skin damage builds up and accelerates the aging of your skin and it also increases your risk for skin cancer. Wear a hat and sunglasses, avoid the midday sun and reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially after you swim or sweat, to avoid sunburn”
UV rays can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes, and according to the CDC, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Amler recommends that residents buy sunscreens with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, and while the CDC suggests using a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15, most dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30, which will block 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays.
To avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke, stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and stay in the shade during the sun’s peak hours.
Heat stroke is a serious condition marked by hot red, dry skin, shallow breathing, a rapid, weak pulse, and confusion. Anyone who is suffering from heat stroke needs immediate medical attention. Call 911 if you suspect heat stroke and immediately cool down the overheated person while waiting for help to arrive.
Heat exhaustion is less dangerous but still poses concerns. Its signs include headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and exhaustion, as well as cool, moist, pale or flushed skin.
For more health and safety tips, visit Westchestergov.com/health and Westchestergov.com; or visit the Westchester Health Department on Facebook and Twitter @Wchealthdept.