New York State is considering tightening safety rules for children’s summer camps, proposing lifeguards at least 18 years old supervise wilderness swimming and that guardrails be installed on camp bunk beds.
The state Health Department said the measures are appropriate to protect children, noting a 1998 drowning during one camp outing, plus 59 serious injuries among campers who fell out of bunk beds between 1998 and 2002.
The proposals would affect 2,600 overnight, day and traveling camps statewide. They are subject to a 60-day public comment period.
Retrofitting bunk beds at any of the 650 overnight camps, as well a proposal to require new water treatment systems for 120 camps without them, wouldn’t take effect before next year.
The rails are expected to cost $15 or more per bed, with installation of water filtration and treatment equipment costing about $3,200 per camp.
The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA and other camp operators and organizations were consulted, according to the proposed rules published last week in the State Register.
Health officials rejected letting 17-year-old lifeguards supervise wilderness swimming. “Due to the remoteness of the locations where these swimming activities are conducted and the increased potential risk associated with such swim areas, older and experienced individuals are needed to supervise wilderness swimming activities,” the proposal said.
In backing guardrails for all upper bunks, the department noted the 59 injured in falls had concussions, fractures and even a ruptured spleen, and they included older campers.
Other proposals would:
• Prohibit campers from riding in trailer beds, or other parts of vehicles not designed for passengers.
• Require reporting all potential rabies exposure and uses of the drug epinephrine, which is given for severe allergic reactions.
• Require that camp leaders on trips where emergency medical services are not promptly available, and which include high-risk activities such as wilderness hiking, rock climbing, cycling, horseback riding, swimming and boating, have certifications in first aid and CPR for the professional rescuer.
• Require that high-risk activities at the camps be supervised by someone competent in the activity at least 18.
• Updates the standard for horseback riding headgear.
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