"One of the best decisions I had ever made"
- Joseph Lugo
During the summer, many people make use of public pools, backyard pools and lakes as an easy way to cool off. But, people should be aware of drowning risks before they hit the water.
On July 13, two men were discovered unconscious and underwater in a public pool on Staten Island. Emergency responders took both men to Richmond University Medical Center, where Bohdan Vitenko, 21, was pronounced dead.
The other drowning victim, a city lifeguard in his early 20’s, was critically injured.
It can be extremely dangerous to attempt to hold your breath underwater for long periods of time. Swimmers can easily lose consciousness during what is called a shallow-water blackout.
According to witnesses, the two young men had been performing underwater exercises while holding their breath. It is believed they were training for the military.
Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the Parks and Recreation Department, claims that approximately 20 members of the public, five staff members and two lifeguards were at the pool at the time of the drowning.
This was the first drowning to occur in one of the city’s 54 public pools in nine years.
Swimming Safety Tips
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 people die from accidental drowning each day. There are some basic steps you can take to prevent drowning.
If you have your own pool, make sure there is a sturdy, locked fencing to keep unsupervised children out. Keep your pool stocked with floating rings and other rescue equipment.
Never go swimming alone – always have someone with you in case of an accident. Children or inexperienced swimmers should wear life jackets. Other inflatable floating devices will suffice, but are not as effective as life jackets, as they can deflate or blow away at any time.
Never jump or dive into shallow water or any water you don’t know the depth of. Diving into shallow water has caused serious injury to many.
Children should always be supervised while near a pool or other body of water. Make sure there is nothing for children to trip on or become entangled in near or in the pool.
It only takes a little time and money to ensure your family will be safe at the pool this summer. Parents should remember – drownings happen quickly and quietly, it is important to always supervise your children.