Quijano & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Teach Public School Students about Beach & Water Safety Clears Assembly Panel

2017 was deadliest year on record for rip currents in New Jersey; instruction would include information about the dangers of rip tides & swimmer distress signals

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Annette Quijano & Valerie Vainieri Huttle to provide water and beach safety instruction to public school students after the state had its deadliest year on record for rip currents.

Rip tides, also known as rip currents, are strong narrow currents that can pull swimmers out to sea. Rip currents killed 8 people at New Jersey beaches this year, according to a media report.

“Rip tides can be dangerous even for the most experienced swimmers. They are strong and can drag swimmers away from the shore before they realize what is happening,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Teaching young people about these dangers and how to react can help prevent a tragedy.” 

“A fun day at the beach can quickly turn deadly if you’re caught in a rip tide,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “We want all young people, especially those unfamiliar with the unpredictability of the ocean, to be aware of the dangers, and know what to do to increase their chances of survival.”

The bill (A-5155/5159) would direct the State Board of Education to review and incorporate within the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education instructional standards on water safety, as appropriate. The instructional standards would provide students with information on the nature and danger of rip tides; the importance of learning about water conditions and beach safety practices, particularly for student populations that do not reside near beach communities; hand signs that may be used to indicate swimmer distress; and the sightline limitations of lifeguards and others monitoring swimmers from the beach.

The bill would take effect immediately.

The bill was advanced by the Assembly Education Committee.