April is National Poetry Month!
Poetry is a special kind of writing that paints a picture with words. It’s a concisely-written, yet mind-expanding expression of ideas or feelings, capturing the very essence of an idea, a mood, an observation, or a life experience.
My favorite poem, The Road Not Taken, was written by Robert Frost, one of America’s most celebrated poets. It was published in 1916 as the first poem in the collection Mountain Interval.
In the poem, Frost presents the reader with a picture of a cool autumn day, when a person can shuffle his or her feet through freshly fallen, golden leaves and kick up the smells of the fall season. The central theme is about making choices in our lives, knowing that each decision made has consequences. The path is a metaphor for life, while the fork in the path is a metaphor for the choices we are often faced with. Our destiny evolves based on the choices we make in our lives as we travel our individual journeys. Hopefully, there are no regrets, because life has a funny way of getting busy, one thing leading into another, until there is no going back.
The Road Not Taken
Two Roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
National Beach Safety Week begins the Monday before Memorial Day, May 20, 2019. The waters that surround Long Island can be a wonderful recreational resource, but they can also be treacherous. Lifeguards are provided in an effort to reduce the number of accidents at our local beaches, but they cannot do the job alone. An informed public is essential to maintaining adequate levels of beach and water safety. The objective of Naitonal Beach Safety Week is to make citizens aware of the need to be safe while in and near the water with special emphasis on the hazards associated with Rip Currents.
UNITED STATES LIFEGUARD ASSOCIATION’S TOP TEN SAFETY TIPS:
1. Learn to Swim.
2. Swim near a lifeguard.
3. Swim with a buddy.
4. Check with lifeguards on daily conditions.
5. Obey posted signs and flags – And know your location for 9-1-1 calls.
6. Keep the beach and water clean – What you pack in, pack out!
7. Learn Rip Current safety.
8. Enter water feet first.
9. Wear a life jacket when appropriate or mandated.
10. Use sunscreen and Drink plenty of water.
Rip Current Survival Tips:
Rip Currents can be killers. They are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.
Never swim alone.
Be cautious at all times. If in doubt, don’t go out!
Swim at a lifeguarded beach whenever possible and obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. It could save your life!
If caught in a rip, remain calm to conserve energy. Don’t panic! Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current, parallel to the shoreline. If unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward shore. If still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by facing the shore, waving your arms, and yelling for help.
If you see a distressed swimmer, get help from a lifeguard or have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape.
REMEMBER, MANY PEOPLE DROWN WHILE TRYING TO SAVE SOMEONE ELSE FROM A RIP CURRENT.
On Saturday, June 1, 2019, members of East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue will be offering the public a free-of-charge Water Safety/Hands-Only CPR Training to take place at the East Hampton Library in the Baldwin Family Lecture Room from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
You can register at: http://easthamptonlibrary.org/
In any suspected emergency always call 9-1-1 immediately. Stay on the phone until Dispatch has all the necessary information. Dispatch will activate the appropriate emergency resources – Police, Fire, Ambulance, Coast Guard, Marine Patrol, and/or Ocean Rescue.
Have you ever wondered how many children drown each year in a pool?
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “350 children under the age of five drown in pools each year nationwide. Among unintentional injuries, drowning is the second leading cause of death to this age group after motor vehicle accidents. Another 2,600 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for near-drowning incidents. Some of these submersion accidents result in permanent brain damage.” It’s interesting to note, that most of these children were being watched by their parents or caregivers. Because child drowning is a silent death that happens very quickly, it’s imperative that parents and caregivers never take their eyes off of children when they are anywhere near a pool.
RULES FOR POOLS:
Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards.
Those supervising children should not be distracted by phones, books, conversations, etc.
Never leave a child unsupervised by a pool.
If a child is missing, check the pool first; SECONDS COUNT.
Keep rescue equipment in a designated location by the pool for quick access.
Do not use a flotation device as a substitute for supervision.
Remove toys from pool when not in use.
Never leave a gate open.
If you’re having a pool or beach party, hire a lifeguard. A designated pool watcher is NOT a substitute for a trained lifeguard.
RIP CURRENT SURVIVAL TIPS
Swim near a lifeguard. If you are in trouble, shout and wave; circle one arm up with a closed fist for help.
Never swim alone.
Be cautious at all times. If in doubt, don’t go out!
If caught in a rip, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
Don’t fight the current. Swim parallel to the shoreline.
If unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward shore.
“WHEN THUNDER ROARS, GO INDOORS!”
As a rule, lightning occurs most frequently within 10 miles of a thunderstorm, but bolts of lightning can travel as far as 20 miles from the thunderstorm.
Stop all activities and seek shelter in a solid building or hard-topped vehicle.
Wait 30 minutes after storm to resume activities. Beaches and bodies of water do not offer protection from lightning.
BOAT WATER SAFETY
FIVE GOLDEN RULES FOR BOATING SAFETY:
Always wear your Personal Flotation Device (PDF)
If you capsize, remain with your boat and call for help.
Always dress for the water temperature – no exceptions.
Swim-test your gear every time you go out.
Imagine the worst that could happen and plan for it.
September 26, 2018 Issue – Page 40
A History of East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue
By Helene Forst
Did you know that in the Town of East Hampton, there dwells super heroes, brave ocean swimmers, on call all the time? No matter the day, no matter the weather, they always respond from morning till night.
East Hampton has a rich history of everyday heroes, ordinary men and women who do extraordinary things. Since the 1770’s, when local volunteers patrolled the coastlines of New York, these heroes courageously saved many lives in the waters surrounding the Town of East Hampton. In 1848, The United States Life-Saving Service, a governmental agency, formed with the mission to save the lives of shipwrecked seafarers and their distressed passengers. Then in 1915, they merged with the Revenue Cutter Service to form the United States Coast Guard.
Fast forward to 1978, when a group of local East Hampton baymen organized themselves, forming what was to become the East Hampton Baymen’s Association Dory Rescue Squad, a volunteer organization that grew out of humanitarian efforts to protect the lives of people in distress in the waters around the Town.
Due to their unique fishing skills of haul-seining, a fishing practice that required specialized knowledge of how to deal with powerful surf, these men provided emergency response teams for the Town’s lengthy ocean coastline. Thanks to their unending commitment, their knowledge and skills saved many lives. At its peak, the group had 130 members, all men.
In 1990, however, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) banned haul-seining, a fishing practice that provided livings for many of the local baymen. Hauling-seining was a unique way of fishing that involved the use of 20 to 25-foot flat-bottomed wooden dory boats that had a narrow bow and a narrow stern. The baymen would launch their dory boats from the beach into the surf. Once out far enough, the fishermen laid seine nets in a U-shaped pattern. They would then bring the nets together, and row back to shore where the trapped fish, mostly Stripped bass, would be flopping in the huge nets. With this new ban on haul-seining, the baymen realized that there was no need to pass their skills and knowledge down to their children as this fishing practice was now deemed illegal.
Sadly, in 2005, there were 17 members left when the group disbanded.
In 2003, however, a group of local, ocean certified lifeguards formed a rescue organization called East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue. These dedicated, tenacious lifeguards and ocean rescue swimmers, still to this day, train year-round to carry on the time-honored tradition of surf lifesaving that was passed on to them by the United States Life-Saving Service and the East Hampton Baymen’s Association Dory Rescue Squad.
The transition from the use of a dory boat that was rowed by the dory rescue responders, to the use of a motorized dory boat, to the acceptance of a jet ski as a recognized rescue craft took place over many years.
Since 2003, East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue (EHVOR) has been responding to all water emergencies in the ocean and in the bays, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our organization is 77 strong with 66 certified rescue swimmers. This is the first volunteer ocean rescue organization of its kind in the country.
Our mission is to make expedient and safe water rescues year-round at all unprotected beaches in the Town of East Hampton by responding quickly while coordinating with all East Hampton Emergency Services. This coordination is accomplished through training with multi agencies in many different scenarios and locations throughout the year. This allows us to be prepared for any water emergency from Wainscott to Montauk.
EHVOR protects and coordinates many charitable events such as Paddle for Pink that benefits Breast Cancer Research, Surfers Healing for Autism, A Walk on Water, benefiting children and teens with disabilities, and a local community swim for cancer survivors and their families that benefits Fighting Chance. Our volunteer organization safeguards thousands of swimmers each year in all Permitted Open Water Swims and Triathlons in the township of East Hampton.
Our members promote water safety and education by assisting Hampton Lifeguard Association’s (HLA’s) mission in waterproofing the East End. Along with the East Hampton Town lifeguards, EHVOR assists in training and testing children from ages 9 – 14 from Main Beach to Montauk. The successes of this year’s program led to a winning National Team at Virginia Beach, Virginia.
For more information, visit www.EHVOR.org.
Forst is Director, East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Public Relations
The Poison in Your Laundry
Have you ever wondered what’s in that bottle of detergent or softener you pour into your washing machine, or on that fragrant dryer sheet you throw into your dryer? Well, it’s time you did, because the truth about your laundry products might make you change your laundry routine forever.
Many of the common laundry detergents, softeners, and dryer sheets that sit on our supermarket shelves, like Procter & Gamble’s popular original Tide, and fragrance-free Tide Free and Gentle, contain high levels of 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogenic pollutant. Lesser amounts of the same contaminant were detected in Bounce, both original and Free and Gentle. It’s no wonder that this carcinogenic contaminant has been found in 39 Long Island water districts, many of them in the Town of East Hampton. It’s a shame and a disgrace that Procter & Gamble has consciously chosen not to reformulate these toxic products that people use every day.
Neither New York State nor the federal Environmental Protection Agency regulates dioxane in drinking water. According to Citizens Campaign for the Environment, “Once this chemical flows down your drain, it travels into our groundwater through our septic tanks and cesspools,” before flowing “outward into our surface waters or downward into our aquifers, which are the sole source of Long Island’s drinking water. Removing it is a difficult problem once it hits the groundwater and soil.”
Not only is this toxic chemical found in laundry detergents and soaps, it’s also found in shampoos and body washes. Citizens Campaign for the Environment reports that “approximately 46 percent of personal care products, including detergents, dishwashing soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, deodorants, and body lotions, contain 1,4-dioxane.” In addition, dryer sheets, a common part of many people’s laundry routine, are laden with a multitude of toxic ingredients.
Why would you expose your skin to such dangerous contaminants? If you look on the box of those dryer sheets, you’ll discover that none of the toxic ingredients are listed. Why not, you ask? Well, the current U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission doesn’t require it.
Dr. Anne Steinemann, an expert on pollutants and human health at the University of Melbourne in Australia, has studied the chemicals that discharge from people’s dryer vents into the air and then into our lungs and found that “there are seven dangerous air contaminants and 25 volatile organic compounds that are emitted into the air from fabric softeners and dryer sheets, such as acetaldehyde and benzene. These contaminants are not safe at any level; they are the same pollutants that are emitted from the tailpipes of automobiles. Acetaldehyde is a common ingredient used in fake fragrance blends. It’s potentially carcinogenic to humans and adversely impacts the kidneys and nervous and respiratory systems.”
Just take a bike ride or a walk through any neighborhood in East Hampton and you can smell these noxious chemicals being blown out of your neighbors’ dryer vents.
In 2016, Dr. Steinemann conducted a study that found that “12.5 percent of people blamed scented laundry products spewing from dryer vents for health issues. These included migraines, respiratory issues, skin issues, asthma attacks, and gastrointestinal symptoms.” The scary thing is that Procter & Gamble, the company responsible for most of these products, touts them as being “ideal for newborns and babies.”
What can you do? Stop buying these contaminated products. Each of us as individuals, working together as a community of concerned citizens, can make a difference. All you need to do is say no to the use of these products and purchase eco-friendly detergents instead. There are several companies, such as Seventh Generation, that have come out with healthy but effective cleaning and laundry products.
In addition, the not-for-profit organization Earthjustice recently asked residents of New York to contact Gov. Andrew Cuomo because “he promised to make protecting the public and the environment from chemical contamination a top priority.” For your health, and the health of the environment, “tell Governor Cuomo to require disclosure of all cleaning product ingredients — not just those products the manufacturers add intentionally.”
We should be holding the governor to his promise. Let him know who you are, where you live, and that you’d like transparency for everything that’s being put into cleaning products, shampoos, and body washes that are being sold in New York State.
Remember, it’s never too late to take a stand for your health and for the health of our environment.
Helene Forst is a teacher, environmental activist, and the author of two young-adult novels, “The Journey of Hannah Woods” and “Stoked — 1969.” She lives in East Hampton.