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Unfortunately, it takes just seconds for a child to drown. Drowning is the leading cause of death in many states for children under the age of five. Most of these children drown in their own backyard swimming pool, but others drown in buckets, bathtubs, toilets, dog water bowls, canals and ponds. Small children are top-heavy, and they don’t have the upper body strength to lift themselves out of one of these dangerous situations. Even if the child survives the incident, they are often left with permanent brain damage.
Drowning and near drowning can be prevented, and you can help! Anyone involved with the supervision of children needs to be aware of the dangers associated with any body of water. Below are important tips to prevent needless tragedies.
- Know where your children are at all times
- Use an approved fencing to separate the pool from the house
- Never allow children to be alone near a pool or any water source, no exceptions!
- Have life-saving devices near the pool, such as a pole/hook, or flotation device
- Keep large objects such as tables, chairs, toys, and ladders away from pool fences
- Post the 9-1-1 number on the phone
- Do not allow children to play near the pool and store all toys outside the pool area
- If you leave the pool area, always take the children with you
- Always have a “designated child watcher”
- Learn to swim. We are surrounded on Long Island by water, everyone should learn to swim
- Never swim alone, or while under the influence of alcohol or medications
- Never swim when thunder or lightning is present
- Never dive into unfamiliar or shallow bodies of water
Basic Beach Safety Tips
- Make sure lifeguards are on duty and ask about surf conditions before going in the water.
- Try and swim in an area near a lifeguard tower and never swim alone. Only swim in designated areas.
- Never dive in the surf head first. The water is not always clear and you may not notice any obstructions or how shallow the water in front of you is.
- Don’t swim out to far or overestimate your swimming ability. Never depend on flotation devices for your safety. Swim parallel to the shore if you want to swim long distances.
- Never drink alcohol and swim.
- ALWAYS keep an eye on your children. Don’t turn away, even for a moment. Children can fall below the surface in a second and it can be impossible to find them fast enough.
- Always hold the hands of younger children. Sudden changes in surf direction can separate them from you in an instant.
- Swim parallel to the shore if you want to swim long distances.
- Wear “Water Shoes” or sandals on the beach to avoid broken glass and sharp shells.
Lightning strikes at the beach are common in thunder storms. If you hear thunder, get out of the water immediately. Seek shelter in a building or automobile. If no shelter is available, find the lowest spot possible and avoid open spaces. Don’t sit under an umbrella and stay away from metal objects like aluminum chairs.
- If you get into trouble in the water, never panic. Raise and wave your arm for help, float and wait for assistance.
How to Survive a Riptide
Rip currents, also known as riptides or undertows, are long, narrow bands of water that can pull any objects caught in them away from shore and out to sea. Rip currents are dangerous, and it’s best to learn how to identify and stay out of them. If, however, you get caught in a rip current, it’s relatively easy to escape if you know what to do.
- Keep your feet on the bottom as much as possible when swimming in surf conditions. Rip currents can occur in any ocean or lake where surf conditions (breaking waves) exist. Keeping your feet firmly on the lake or sea floor will help you to avoid being swept out to sea by a rip current.
- Remain calm if a rip current begins to pull you away from shore. If you get caught in a rip current, your first instinct will likely be to panic. Don’t worry, you can escape the current, but you’ll need to keep a clear head about you. Understand that a rip current will probably not pull you underwater; it will only pull you away from the shore.
- Regain your footing if possible. If the current is relatively weak and you’re in shallow water, you will probably be able to touch the bottom again and prevent yourself from being dragged out further. If you can’t touch the bottom, do not struggle against the current. Rip current victims drown because they become exhausted fighting the current. Conserve your energy for methodically swimming and staying afloat.
- Call for help immediately if you can’t swim well. Rip currents are especially dangerous to people who can’t swim or who can’t swim well. If you’re not a good swimmer, get the attention of a lifeguard or of other beach-goers by waving your arms and yelling for help.
- Swim parallel to shore to get out of the current. Being caught in a rip current is like being stuck on a treadmill that you can’t turn off. Luckily, rip currents, like treadmills, are usually pretty narrow–they’re rarely over 100 feet wide–so you need only get to the side of the rip current (step off the treadmill) to escape. Rather than swim against the current toward shore, swim parallel to the shore. As you do so, the rip current will carry you further away from shore, but remember, don’t panic. Continue swimming parallel to the shore until you are clear of the current–usually no more than 100-150 feet down the beach from the point where you entered the water.
- Float on your back or tread water if you can’t swim out of the current. If you can’t swim, or if you get tired before you manage to make it out of the current, conserve your energy and stay afloat. Continue to signal for help if there are people present. If you’re alone, just relax and stay afloat until you have enough energy to continue to swim. Rip currents generally subside 50-100 yards from the shore, so you’ll eventually stop getting pulled further out.
- Swim toward the shore once you escape the current. When you are out of the current, either because you’ve reached its side or you’ve been carried out far enough for the current to subside, make your way back to shore. It’s generally a good idea to swim diagonally toward shore and away from the current rather than swimming straight back, as the latter method may bring you right back into the current. You may be some distance from shore at this point, so stop and float periodically if you need to rest.
For PROPANE Grills – turn off the burners. For CHARCOAL Grills – close the grill lid. Disconnect the power to ELECTRIC Grills.
For PROPANE Grills – if you can safely reach the tank valve, shut it off.
If the fire involves the tank, leave it alone, evacuate the area and call the fire department.
If there is any type of fire that either threatens your personal safety or endangers property, ALWAYS DIAL 911.
NEVER attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. It will only cause the flames to flare up. Use an approved portable fire extinguisher.
REMEMBER – Propane barbecue grills and no more than two (2) 20-pound propane tanks are allowed on the grounds of a one or two-family home, but be sure to follow the fire safety precautions above.
Only use a charcoal barbecue on a balcony or terrace if there is a ten-foot clearance from the building and there is an immediate source of water (garden hose or four (4) gallon pail of water)
Smoke Alarms and Detectors
Smoke detectors are devices that automatically sound a warning when they sense smoke or other products of combustion. They are usually mounted on a wall or the ceiling. When people are warned early enough about a fire, they can escape before it spreads. You can purchase one starting at $6.
Every year house fires kill thousands. Fire kills an estimated 4,000 Americans every year. Another 30,000 people are seriously injured by fire each year. Property damage from fire costs us at least $11.2 billion yearly. Most fire victims feel that fire would “never happen to them.”
Although we like to feel safe at home, about two-thirds of our nation’s fire deaths happen in the victim’s own home. The home is where we are at the greatest risk and where we must take the most precautions. Most deaths occur from inhaling smoke or poisonous gases, not from the flames.
Most fatal fires occur in residential buildings between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are most likely asleep. Over 90 percent of fire deaths in buildings occur in residential dwellings.
A Johns Hopkins University study, funded by the United States Fire Administration, found that 75 percent of residential fire deaths and 84 percent of residential fire injuries could have been prevented by smoke detectors.
There are two basic types of smoke detectors:
Ionization detectors – Ionization detectors contain radioactive material that ionizes the air, making an electrical path. When smoke enters, the smoke molecules attach themselves to the ions. The change in electric current flow triggers the alarm. The radioactive material is called americium. It’s a radioactive metallic element produced by bombardment of plutonium with high energy neutrons. The amount is very small and not harmful.
Photo-electric detectors – This type of detector contains a light source (usually a bulb) and a photocell, which is activated by light. Light from the bulb reflects off the smoke particles and is directed towards the photocell. The photocell then is activated to trigger the alarm.
Choosing a smoke detector
When choosing a smoke detector, there are several things to consider. Think about which areas of the house you want to protect, where fire would be most dangerous, how many you will need, etc.
The National Fire Protection Agency recommends that every home have a smoke detector outside each sleeping area (inside as well if members of the household sleep with the door closed) and on every level of the home, including the basement. The National Fire Alarm code requires a smoke detector inside each sleeping area for new construction. On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas, such as dens, living rooms or family rooms. Smoke detectors are not recommended for kitchens.
The placement of smoke detectors is very important. Sleeping areas need the most protection. One detector in a short hallway outside the bedroom area is usually adequate. Hallways longer than 30 feet should have one at each end. For maximum protection, install a detector in each bedroom.
Be sure to keep the detector away from fireplaces and wood stoves to avoid false alarms. Place smoke detectors at the top of each stairwell and at the end of each long hallway. Smoke rises easily through stairwells. If you should put a smoke detector in your kitchen, be sure to keep it away from cooking fumes or smoking areas.
It’s important to properly mount a smoke detector. You can mount many detectors by yourself, however those connected to your household wiring should have their own separate circuit and be installed by a professional electrician. If you mount your detector on the ceiling, be sure to keep it at least 18 inches away from dead air space near walls and corners. If you mount it on the wall, place it six to 12 inches below the ceiling and away from corners. Keep them high because smoke rises.
Never place them any closer than three feet from an air register that might re-circulate smoke. Don’t place them near doorways or windows where drafts could impair the detector operation. Don’t place them on an un-insulated exterior wall or ceiling. Temperature extremes can affect the batteries.
It’s simple to keep smoke detectors in good condition. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to replace the batteries every year or as needed. Most models will make a chirping, popping or beeping sound when the battery is losing its charge. When this sound is heard, install a fresh battery, preferably an alkaline type.
Remember, every three years to change the bulbs. Keep extras handy. Check the smoke detector every month by releasing smoke or pushing the “test” button. Clean the detector face and grillwork often to remove dust and grease. Never paint a smoke detector as it will hamper its function. Check your detector if you’ve been away from home.
Smoke Detectors make great housewarming (or any time) gifts. It’s an interesting present that can save lives and it shows that you care.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
A carbon monoxide detector or CO detector is a device that detects the presence of the carbon monoxide (CO) gas in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. In the late 1990s Underwriters Laboratories (UL) changed their definition of a single station CO detector with a sound device in it to a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm. This applies to all CO safety alarms that meet UL 2034; however for passive indicators and system devices that meet UL 2075, UL refers to these as carbon monoxide detectors. CO is a colorless, tasteless and odorless compound produced by incomplete combustion of carbon containing materials. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it is virtually undetectable without using detection technology and most do not realize they are being poisoned. Elevated levels of CO can be dangerous to humans depending on the amount present and length of exposure. Smaller concentrations can be harmful over longer periods of time while increasing concentrations require diminishing exposure times to be harmful.
CO detectors are designed to measure CO levels over time and sound an alarm before dangerous levels of CO accumulate in an environment, giving people adequate warning to safely ventilate the area or evacuate. Some system-connected detectors also alert a monitoring service that can dispatch emergency services if necessary.
While CO detectors do not serve as smoke detectors and vice versa, dual smoke/CO detectors are also sold. Smoke detectors detect the smoke generated by flaming or smoldering fires, whereas CO detectors detect and warn people about dangerous CO buildup caused, for example, by a malfunctioning fuel-burning device. In the home, some common sources of CO include open flames, space heaters, water heaters, blocked chimneys or running a car inside a garage.