July 1, 2020
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – County Executive Calvin Ball hosted a water and swimming safety event today at Centennial Park. Ball was joined by government departments and community groups to address three recent water safety incidents and provide recommendations for residents to remain safe this summer. Photos of the event can be found here.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our indoor and outdoor pools, leading more residents to seek out natural bodies of water to swim in this summer,” said Ball. “Howard County paramedics have responded to three potential drownings in the past month alone. We want to ensure our community has the information and resources to keep their families safe when recreating this summer and beyond. In an effort to ensure all our residents are healthy and thriving, we’re also working with our community partners to distribute safety guidelines to various populations and are making them available in multiple languages.”
Howard County has more than 2000 acres of water and is home to several hundred miles of stream and creeks that feed into the Patapsco and Patuxent Rivers. Swimming is prohibited in many of these natural bodies of water throughout the county, due to environmental and safety hazards, including:
- No lifeguards on duty
- Unmanaged debris in the water can trap the swimmer
- Varying temperatures of the water can quickly overtake the swimmer
- Varying currents in the water can overtake the swimmer
- Potential for bacteria in the water which can be harmful to swimmers
Officials also highlighted the risks of swimming in any water and encouraged residents to never swim alone, always watch children in and around water, and to always enter unknown or shallow water feet first.
"Recreation & Parks owns and maintains one indoor pool, the Roger Carter Community Center Pool in Ellicott City," commented Recreation & Parks Director Raul Delerme. "We are tentatively reopening this pool to the public for limited hours starting this coming Monday, July 6. Our pool offers swimming lessons year-round to true beginners to those looking to perfect a stroke through a clinic. I invite all of you to check out our well-run classes, programs, camps, and fitness opportunities to stay healthy and safe."
"Wherever you swim, it is important to keep an eye on children, swim with a buddy and make sure the water is clean and safe for swimming," shared Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer.
“It is prohibited to swim in Howard County’s lakes, rivers, and ponds due to the inherent risk of drowning or infection,” said Fire Chief William Anuszewski. “Far too often, we respond to water rescues during the summer months for emergencies that could have been prevented. Please stay safe this summer and abide by all postings around our natural bodies of water.”
“The mission of the men and women of the Natural Resources Police is to protect Maryland's residents and visitors on public lands and waterways. It also is charged with protecting fish and wildlife and leading search and rescue efforts,” said Sgt. Gregory Certeza of the Maryland Natural Resources Police. “Every year 7,000 to 9,000 people drown in the United States. Many drown in 8-10 feet of water and within 10 feet of safety. Personal Flotation Devices (PFD's) can save lives, but only if you wear them. It’s also important to learn to swim and avoid consuming alcohol when engaging in water sports.”
"There are many who cross seas when they flee persecution, they should not do it to only face the prospect of drowning in their new communities,” said Mike Mitchell, Executive Director of Foreign-Born Information and Referral Network (FIRN). “That is why FIRN is thankful to support the immigrant community with resources to know about water safety and to support our partners in Howard County government doing the same."