Start the Summer with Beach Safety Awareness

June 4, 2018

Neptune, NJ – Last year was New Jersey’s deadliest year on record for rip currents, with eight people killed due to drowning at beaches. Members of the Monmouth County USLA (United States Lifeguard Association) and experts from Hackensack Meridian Health Jersey Shore University Medical Center are committed to raising awareness of beach safety and getting this summer season off to a safe start.

Dr. Gene Hession, president of Monmouth County USLA, says, “A combination of unseasonable warm weather, rough surf conditions, strong riptides, and swimming when lifeguards weren’t present resulted in several tragic deaths last year. Our hope is to raise awareness now so our local residents and tourists can have a safe summer at the shore.”

The national chapter of USLA has designated the first week in June as Beach Safety Week. Hackensack Meridian Health has partnered with the organization to hold workshops in area high schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties, educating the community on beach safety over the next several weeks.

Eric Costanzo, D.O., a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, often sees patients who arrive at the hospital after aspirating saltwater. This occurs when water is inhaled into an individual’s lungs and has serious health risks. Dr. Costanzo is no stranger to dangerous situations at the beach. Early in his career he was a lifeguard, then trained as an EMT, advanced as a paramedic, and finally became a doctor.

“I still spend a good amount of time at the beach, and the water conditions already seem worse than last year,” says Dr. Costanzo. “I’ve seen way too many patients come into our Emergency Department as drowning victims, and can’t stress enough the importance of practicing safe habits while at the shore.”

Dr. Hession and Dr. Costanzo offer the following beach safety tips to keep people safe this summer:

  • Learn to swim. If you can’t swim an overhand stroke for at least 15 minutes, you should probably think twice about going into the ocean.
  • Never swim alone. Always swim with a buddy.
  • Always swim near a lifeguard. Never swim after hours when the lifeguards are not on duty.
  • When first arriving at the beach, check with the lifeguards about rip currents or other hazardous conditions.
  • If you get caught in a rip current, don’t fight it. Waive for help and swim parallel to the shore.
  • Never dive or jump from a pier or jetty.
  • Never run into the ocean and dive into the wave as you could injure your neck.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care. Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 16 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; 11 community hospitals – Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, and Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.

Additionally, the network has more than 160 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, and urgent care and after-hours centers. Hackensack Meridian Health has 33,000 team members, and 6,500 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The network’s notable distinctions include having one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more consecutive years, four hospitals among the top 10 in New Jersey, including Hackensack University Medical Center which is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, recipient of the John M. Eisenberg Award for Patient Safety and Quality from The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum, a six-time recipient of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Health Care” in the nation, and the number one “Best Place to Work for Women.” Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.

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