Safety Suggestions

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 Dear Editor:

(This is a reprint from last fall but still timely)

After some more horrible drownings this week, is there any chance you can reach out to our local politicians (Stacey Pheffer Amato comes to mind because she gets stuff done) and put forth a mandatory annual water safety class through our city schools.

The FDNY is the greatest Department in the world and they would love the opportunity to put a program together that could save kids’ lives! I am sure of it! That is what they do!!

All five boroughs are near water and even if most kids aren’t, they still go to the beach by train or bus and most have no water experience at all. I believe this is something all schools worldwide should consider doing. It’s that important!!

They can make it similar to fire drills.

Rockaway parents teach their children about this their whole lives growing up but other kids do not get this extremely important lesson! If the water is rough, you don’t go in period. We have all heard that over and over again from Mom and Dad! Most kids do not know how to swim and even if they do, they do not understand how to deal with big waves, riptides and strong swift currents. That comes with water experience! Just ask any surfer!

They are at the age where, even if they’re scared and their friends jump into the water, they jump in too, so they won’t be teased, and the outcome is fatal.

Every year this happens and many times more than once and we have to do a better job to avoid it. Everyone in Rockaway knows the scenario. First you hear the sirens and then the helicopters and you know it’s another water rescue that rarely ends well!

My good friend FF Timmy Smith L134 had an incredible water rescue a while back where he saved a life but you do not hear about too many of them because the ocean usually wins. There is also the danger to all the first responders who enter the water to rescue and to search for a victim.

Sitting through a safety class once a year with video and some interviews with families that have lost their children would hopefully teach the kids what not to do when they are at the beach! Late August/September is when the water has a greater chance of being much more rough and dangerous due to the storms coming from down south and also a time to increase public safety on our beaches especially when you have a warm autumn like when we have had.

These steps need to be taken.

Another situation where some people get in trouble is on the rock jetties. I truly believe that they don’t think about what could happen to them when they take a walk out on them. This is especially true with all the visitors that Rockaway gets nowadays. We all know how fast and powerful the water can become in just a few minutes, but a lot of people do not! How would they know the difference between high and low tide?

The waves come in and knock people over and this makes for another very dangerous situation. Besides maybe getting swept out to sea, you have a great chance to bash your head off the rocks and then getting swept out to sea! Not fun!

With the ferry bringing so many people to Rockaway I feel some additional precautions need to be put in place so the safety of everyone is increased! Maybe hand out some water safety literature on the ferry? The people have about an hour on the boat so if one person read about the danger that the Rockaway waters can present and was extra cautious and didn’t drown, wouldn’t that have been worth it?

In Long Beach, they have signs on every jetty telling people not to go out on them and if you do you will be given a summons. Rockaway should do the same thing to reduce any chance of anyone getting swept off their feet and seriously hurt or worse!

I am the proud father of two super Rockaway girls and the thought that I didn’t do all I could to teach and protect them would drive me nuts!

We should do that for all kids! My thoughts and prayers go out to the families!

Thank you for your time and platform! Keep up the good work!

 Mikey Balfe

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