LETTER Panel approves Kean/ Muñoz bill requiring water safety instruction in schools

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Republicans Sean Kean and Nancy F. Muñoz requiring the state Board of Education to incorporate water safety instruction as part of its comprehensive health and physical education standards was unanimously approved today by the Assembly Education Committee by a 10 to 0 vote.

“New Jersey is known for its many water-related activities. We have 130 miles of shoreline with nearly 50 beaches. We have public and privately-owned pools. Keeping kids safe in and near water is good common sense,” said Kean (R-Monmouth). “We teach students about fire safety and what to do if caught in a fire. We should do the same with water safety. They need to know what dangers to avoid in the ocean and the pool, and what do if caught in an emergency situation.”

“Every summer we hear of tragic drownings at the beach or in backyard pools. These types of accidents can often be prevented,” said Muñoz (R-Union), who serves Assembly Republican whip.

“Educating students about the inherent dangers of the ocean and swimming in unprotected areas or without adult supervision can help save lives.”

Under the bill (A5155/A5159) students will receive information about the importance of swimming in areas monitored by a lifeguard, how to become aware of the water conditions, the danger of rip currents and how to respond if caught in one as well as other water-safety topics. Itincorporates instruction on water safety into the health education curriculum for K-12 students as part of a school district’s implementation of the state student learning standards for comprehensive health and physical education.

Drownings are the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. There have been several tragic accidents in Monmouth and Ocean counties this past summer, including two young girls who drowned in the ocean in Belmar. The girls were students at Belmar Elementary School.