In light of at least two child deaths in 2013 in city creeks, the Philadelphia Fire Department has launched Operation Stay on Shore: Drowning is Preventable.
Swimming is illegal in all city rivers, creeks and streams and it’s potentially deadly. It’s also unnecessary because Philadelphia has 80 public pools that are open during the summer.
There are several key myths about swimming in unprotected waters. The water is not safe, even shallow water. In truth, flash floods and sudden water runoff events make the water levels unpredictable and dangerous. Contrary to popular belief, streams are not clean. Although city waterways are cleaner than they have been in decades, storm water runoff from streets and lawns pollutes the water with trash, chemicals and animal waste. Finally, it doesn’t matter how good a swimmer someone is, unprotected streams still pose a lethal danger.
The fire department encourages all youths and adults to swim in protected pools, not in natural waterways. Adults should monitor all children near the water because drownings are often silent and can go unnoticed. For information about public pools, visit www.phila.gov and follow the Parks and Recreation link. Call 311 for information about any city services or call 911 in a public safety emergency.