July 20, 2021
Contact: Kristen Doulos, Town Parks Director
(631) 728-8585 email@example.com
Contact: Ryan Murphy, Town Emergency Management Administrator
(631) 702-1701 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharks, Rip Currents, Sun, Heat & Other Summer Safety Tips
With summer now in full swing, Southampton Town Parks and Recreation officials are reminding residents and visitors of a few water safety tips.
Amidst several shark bites in western Suffolk County last week, and multiple sightings along the shore, municipalities have been stepping up their efforts. “We are very aware of the increased presence of sharks around Long Island,” said Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki. “We have boats in the water every day and coordinate with our lifeguard staff and calls to 911, investigating suspected sightings using our boats and drones that we operate from our boats, as well as radio cars on land.”
Town Parks Director Kristen Doulos attributed much of the recent sightings to increased monitoring, especially from drone and cell phone videos that are quickly spread on social media. “Although the chances of a fatal shark attack are about one in 3.7 million, we are still being extremely cautious,” she said.
There is also an abundance of baitfish in local waters as of late. Though their presence is a sign of a healthy ecosystem, a higher than usual population of bunker fish visited the area last August. When town lifeguards spotted a shiver of sharks feeding approximately 200 to 300 yards off Pike’s Beach in Westhampton, it led to a temporary prohibition on swimming west of the Shinnecock Canal. A month prior, beachgoers and bloggers captured impressive footage when the schooling fish, known officially as menhaden, were spotted at about the same distance offshore in Bridgehampton on July 15.
The Town plans to provide updates as they become available. For additional information about sharks and their presence in local waters, please visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/sharkrackcard.pdf and https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/110764.html
Town Parks staff also re-issued its annual reminder for swimmers and surfers to be prepared for rip currents, a regular occurrence on the East End and which account for about 80 percent of rescues performed by lifeguards. Rip currents are channelized currents of water flowing away from shore at ocean beaches. They typically form at breaks and sandbars, and also near structures such as jetties and piers. Rip currents can be dangerous due to their sudden appearance, changing strength, and the ability to sweep even the strongest swimmers away from land. Anyone caught in a rip current may escape by swimming parallel to the shoreline. Once free of the current, swim at an angle away from the current and toward the shore. “We’ve had a lot of rough conditions this summer and even the best swimmers can struggle, so we urge everyone to please only swim at a protected beach,” said Doulos. According to U.S. Lifesaving Association statistics, the chance of death by drowning at a beach protected by lifeguards is 1 in 18 million.
For more information, please visit https://www.weather.gov/media/owlie/rip_brochure_51419b.pdf or https://www.usla.org/page/ripcurrents
Lastly, by protecting your skin from the sun, it is possible to be outside, especially enjoying the beach, without raising your risk of skin cancer.
Protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays is important all year, not just during the summer. You can best reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer by staying under an umbrella. For the most protection while not in the shade, wear a hat with a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck.
Finally, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends wearing sunglasses and a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or higher.
A heat advisory is in effect today for Long Island from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. with temperatures in some areas expected to climb into the 90s.
According to Town Code Compliance and Emergency Management Administrator, Ryan Murphy, temperatures on the South Fork have not yet reached the required thresholds to activate Southampton’s Heat Emergency Plans, but caution is advised.
A heat advisory is a notice issued by the National Weather Service of the United States. High values of the heat index are caused by temperatures being significantly above normal and high humidity. Such high levels can pose a threat to human life through conditions such as heat stroke.
Experts recommend drinking plenty of liquids, avoiding direct sun exposure during peak hours, and monitoring high-risk individuals.