Middlesex District Attorney Issues Water Safety Alert For Wilmington, Raises Drowning Awareness

Stoneham, MA — Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan issued a county-wide water safety alert [on Thursday] in response to the recent drowning fatalities across the Commonwealth as part of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office “Summer Safety” awareness campaign.

District Attorney Ryan was joined for today’s announcement by Stoneham Police Chief James McIntyre, Stoneham Fire Chief Joseph Rolli, Boys & Girls Club of Stoneham & Wakefield Executive Director Adam Rodgers, and Action Ambulance Proprietor David Portman. The Stoneham Fire Department Dive Team demonstrated a simulated drowning and rescue operation to show how long it takes to rescue a victim, even with emergency rescue workers nearby.

“I am issuing this county-wide alert because drowning deaths are preventable,” said District Attorney Ryan. “We all want swimming to be a safe and enjoyable activity and it can be if adults actively supervise children and people take advantage of the many recreational options in Middlesex County where certified life guards are on duty.”

“While our trained professionals are available on a moment’s notice to rescue drowning victims, our first priority is making sure the public is informed on water safety measures so that our department does not receive that emergency call,” said Stoneham Fire Chief Joseph Rolli.

Stoneham Police Chief James McIntyre added, “We encourage the public to swim in posted locations with lifeguards, to never let children go in the water alone without supervision, and to secure pools at all times, especially when not in use.” “We are pleased to partner with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office on this important and potentially lifesaving initiative,” said Action Ambulance Proprietor David Portman.

“We are fortunate to live in an area with so many safe recreational opportunities,” said Boys & Girls Club of Stoneham & Wakefield Director Adam Rodgers.  “We want to encourage everyone to take advantage of them and to check with their individual city or town office for information about swim lessons and classes on water safety.”

Middlesex County has 131 ponds and lakes and 22 rivers and streams. According to the Center for Disease Control, every day 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional death in children under the age of 14.


  • Signs that someone is drowning may not be obvious. You will not hear a cry for help.
  • When a person is drowning, the mouth sinks below and reappears above the surface of the water.
  • Someone who is drowning cannot wave for help. Instinctively arms extend to the sides and the person presses down to lift her mouth out of the water; a child may extend her arms forward.
  • A drowning person remains upright in the water, with no evidence of kicking. The struggle lasts for only 20 to 60 seconds before going under.
  • Head is low in the water, with mouth at water level; head may be tilted back with mouth open. A child’s head may fall forward.
  • Sometimes the most important indicator is that the person doesn’t look like he’s drowning. Ask “Are you all right?” If he can answer, he probably is. If you encounter a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to him.
  • Children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you need to get to them immediately.
  • Actively supervise children AT ALL TIMES near open bodies of water like ponds, lakes, rivers, and oceans.
  • Drowning can occur in as little as 2 inches of water, so keep a close watch near landscaping features like koi ponds, waterfalls, and fountains.
  • Teach children to swim and about water safety.
  • NEVER SWIM ALONE – swim with a buddy.
  • Consider swimming lessons (call the YMCA to locate one near you at 1-800-872-9622 or visit http://www.ymca.net/find-you-y In addition to educating the public about water safety.

MDAO’s “Summer Safety” public awareness campaign aims to prevent accidental child deaths or serious injury by preventing window falls and reminding parents to never leave a child alone in a car. District Attorney Ryan has hosted “Summer Safety” events recently at seven locations across Middlesex County to educate the public and to offer free car safety seat checks.

(NOTE: The above press release is from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s Office.)

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