News

Swimming Safety A Major Concern On Long Island During Sweltering Heat Wave

Lifeguards on Long Island beach

Lifeguards watch the beach which is closed to swimming due to Hurricane Earl on September 3, 2010 in Montauk, New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

jennifermclogan Jennifer McLogan
Jennifer McLogan returned to WCBS-TV in 1993 to cover Long Island...
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JONES BEAH, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Thousands of people jammed Long Island’s South Shore, hoping cool breezes and ocean waters would save them from the sweltering temperatures.

However, some beaches were closed, and safety was a concern, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

Queens residents Michael and Leah Sadowsky went to long beach, desperately seeking relief from the blistering heat. They were shocked to discover empty lifeguard chairs and a swimming ban.

“It’s really hot. Everybody wants to go in water to cool off, but they can’t, there’s no lifeguards,” Leah Sadowsky said.

Village, town, city, county and state beaches on Long Island observe staggered summer openings – some beaches open on Memorial Day, while others are open on weekends only until July 4.

The swimming ban provided a tough temptation on a very hot Wednesday afternoon.

“We’ll try to observe the safety laws and regulations,” Michael Sadowsky said.

Those safety laws are often a matter of life and death. Last June, a student from Harlem died when she and her schoolmates broke the rules and went in the water with no lifeguards on duty.

“When the 12-year-old girl drowned here last year on a class trip, I really said ‘enough is enough,’” Long Beach city manager Charles Theofan said. “We have to be proactive.”

The city of Long Beach said they’re now distributing a PSA across the metro area, in hopes that it can save swimmers.

Five miles away, Jones Beach was fully staffed, as it will be until Labor Day. Thousands of beachgoers jammed the shoreline.

Many swam near the captain of the Jones Beach lifeguards, between the flags.

“I’m worried about the rip currents,” one swimmer said.

Cold water creates cramps, and shallow water diving can break a neck. Rip currents are among lifeguards’ biggest safety concerns.

“Swim parallel to the beach,” Jones Beach lifeguard captain Ed Peters said. “The important thing is to just hang in there, and don’t panic when your feet don’t touch the sand.”

Officials said it’s important to swim within sight of lifeguards who can spot trouble – and save lifes.

In the wake of last year’s Long Beach drowning, New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott signed and emergency order expanding field trip supervision and swimming guidelines on Wednesday.