Tag Archives: pools

Boat safety tips


| mchan@queenscourier.com

In the wake of the July 4 tragedy in Oyster Bay in which three Suffolk County children were trapped and killed in a capsized, overloaded watercraft, local marina officials stressed the importance of boat safety.

Overloading boats could be a deadly decision, said Martin Munch, president of the Bayside Marina.

“You want to have ample room to move around in case of an emergency,” he said, adding that occupancy rules vary for each boat, depending on the type and style of the craft.

According to New York state boating requirements, a capacity plate — usually located in plain sight near the operator’s station — on board vessels less than 21 feet long indicates how much weight the boat can safely carry, and should never be exceeded.

Boaters under 12 years old on a vessel less than 65 feet are also required to wear life vests, as well as anyone on a vessel less than 21 feet between November 1 and May 1, according to the United States Coast Guard. Violations can lead to a fine of up to $100.

Munch recalled a July 2002 accident in Little Neck Bay that claimed two lives — John Kondogianis, 36, of Elmont, L.I., and George Lawrence, 17, of Little Neck — when they were both thrown overboard and killed by a colliding boat in the waters off the Bayside Marina. Marina staff members often make safety recommendations to private boaters, Munch said, but ultimately enforcement falls under the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the United States Coast Guard on all federally controlled waters.

Stay safe in backyard pools


| mchan@queenscourier.com

• Learn how to swim. The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation offers free lessons to both children and adults. The courses take place in three summer sessions throughout July and August and are available on a first-come, first-served basis at four Queens pools — Astoria, Fort Totten, Fisher and Liberty. Registration for sessions two and three are still open.

• Use of the pool should always be supervised by an adult who knows pool rules and emergency procedures and who can swim.

• The area should have a secure fence surrounding the pool with childproof locks to guard against unsupervised swimming. A fence is necessary even if the pool is located directly outside of patio doors. The gates should be locked when no adult is present.

• Establish pool rules and post them near the pool. Don’t allow running or horseplay around the pool. Be careful with inflatable toys that may deflate unexpectedly. Use only unbreakable containers in the pool area.

• Take benches and chairs away from the pool area when finished swimming and remove toys from the pool to discourage children from climbing over the fence and back in to retrieve them.

• Be prepared for emergencies. Have a long pole, a ring buoy with a throwing line and a first aid kit nearby. Keep emergency phone numbers handy. Get training in lifesaving, first aid and CPR.

— Melissa Chan and YMCA of Greater New York

Drownings in Queens, Long Island, as lifeguard saves boy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A 21-year-old Bellerose lifeguard was hailed a hero on the same day families in Douglaston Manor and Long Island mourned the losses of their children in July 4’s tragic drownings.

Christos Voulkoudis, 4, drowned in a relative’s pool in Douglaston Manor around 6 p.m., authorities said. He was rushed to North Shore University Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Police said they do not suspect criminality.

Earlier that day, a one-year-old boy in East Islip fell and drowned at around 12:40 p.m. after climbing the ladder of an above-ground backyard pool, officials said.

Then a capsized powerboat in Oyster Bay trapped and drowned three Suffolk County children — David Aurelino, 12, Harley Treanor, 11, and Victoria Gaines, 8 — during a nighttime Fourth of July fireworks show, police said.

There were 27 people on board — twice the reported number the boat could carry — and the incident, according to reports, may have been caused by overcrowding and powerful waves from nearby vessels on the water.

Voulkoudis’ pool drowning is the first in Queens this summer, but there were 49 deaths citywide due to accidental drowning and submersion between 2006 and 2010 in natural waters or pools, said a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The vast majority of those deaths, 76 percent, occurred in natural waters. But officials stressed the need for parents to stay vigilant while supervising children in any body of water.

“Most children slip under the water — and it’s silent — in as little as 20 seconds, the time it takes to send a text message or finish an article if you’re reading,” said Mary O’Donoghue, aquatic specialist for the YMCA of Greater New York. “Those 20 seconds you could prevent and be right there.”

According to New York’s Department of State’s Division of Code Enforcement & Administration, swimming pools installed, constructed or substantially modified after December 14, 2006, must be equipped with an approved alarm capable of detecting a person entering the water at any point on the surface of the pool.

Barriers completely surrounding the pool must also be at least 4 feet high, state law requires.

Meanwhile, a Fourth of July disaster was averted thanks to a clear-headed, speedy lifeguard who sprang into action and saved an 11-year-old boy from drowning in a crowded Glen Oaks pool.

Emily Harms, a 21-year-old Bellerose resident, said she was off watch-duty, sitting at a sign-in table doing paperwork at the Royal Ranch pool, when all of a sudden she heard someone screaming her name.

She saw a mother jump into the pool and pull her lifeless son out of the shallow end of the water. Since she was closer to the victim than the lifeguard on watch duty, Harms said she sprinted toward the pair without thinking.

“He was blue and he wasn’t breathing. He didn’t have a pulse,” said Harms, who began administering two sets of CPR with the backup of two fathers who also ran over to help. “He started getting sick and throwing up, but that was a good sign because he started breathing afterward.”

The boy was still unconscious and was rushed by EMTs to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Harms said, where he is expected to make a full recovery.

Despite all the newfound attention, she said she does not expect the praise.

“This was just part of the job,” she said. “I appreciate everything, but I’m just happy that it had a good ending. It could have been a lot of worse.”