June 2016

Drowning dangers

Summer is here, and many people will be heading to pools, oceans and lakes to take a swim and cool off.  Before jumping in, it’s important to keep some things in mind to stay safe in the water.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning.  Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger.  Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.”  There are many things you can do to prevent yourself or a loved one from becoming a statistic.

First and foremost, learn how to swim.  Children can start as babies, but it’s never too late to learn.  Look online to find classes near you.  If you have a pool, make sure the fencing around it is secure.  Watch children and even other adults carefully around water, especially if they have any medical issues such as a seizure disorder.  Drowning can happen fast and cause almost no commotion.  Even a bucket full of water can prove fatal for a small child.  Use a buddy system if possible while swimming.  If going out on a boat, wear a life jacket, even if you are a good swimmer.  In an accident, you may not be able to keep afloat due to injury or shock.  Do not drink alcohol or take drugs while participating in any water activities.  These can affect your judgment, coordination and balance and lead to disaster.  In the ocean, if you are stuck in a rip current, swim parallel to shore; never against the current.  Once free, swim diagonally toward shore.

If you see someone struggling in the water, do not attempt to rescue them unless you are trained to do so.  Instead, throw them a rope or some buoyant device or hold out a pole for them to grab onto.  If you do pull someone out of the water, and they’re breathing, turn them on their side in case they vomit.  They will need follow up medical attention since water in the lungs can lead to serious complications and even death.   If they are not breathing and/or do not have a pulse, start CPR and call 911 immediately.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed.  Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green.  We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.  In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge.  Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you. Email us at scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com or call (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is entering its 78th year of all volunteer emergency medical services to the community of Scotch Plains and surrounding communities, a distinction that very few rescue squads in the state have reached.