Swim in the city's pools, and you've got to watch out for floating poop and rowdy teenagers. But at least there haven't been any reports of hypodermic needles puncturing people poolside (at least not yet). A Walk in the Park reports that four people have been pricked by needles on city beaches in the past three weeks—and that's not even counting the ones on Rockaway Beach.
Three of the four incidents happened on Staten Island beaches, and the fourth needling occurred at Rockaway Beach, where a female lifeguard was jabbed by a needle at 139th Street yesterday afternoon. On July 16th, a 63-year-old woman stepped on a hypodermic needle on Cedar Grove Beach on Staten Island, lacerating her foot. On the 14th, a needle punctured a man's hand on South Beach, also on Staten Island, and on the 4th of July another South Beach swimmer got jabbed by a hypodermic needle.
Parks Department spokesperson Tara Kiernan tells us, "Yes I can confirm those incidents. We clean the sand at our beaches daily, first by hand with a crew to remove large drift wood and other large debris washed ashore, and second by a barber rake to remove small debris. If a needle or any type of medical waste is found, it, and the surrounding sand, are removed by a trained medical waste responder. When these incidents occurred, paramedics were immediately notified. We’ve had over 14 million visitors to our beaches citywide to date, and a half million on our Staten Island beaches alone. Although our beaches have never been cleaner, we typically have a few incidents like this every year."
That's why to be on the safe side we always wear a wetsuit, Vibram FiveFingers, a welder's mask and hockey gloves when swimming, especially on Staten Island. "It's a bay, we're not on an ocean," a parks employee who works on Staten Island explained to A Walk in the Park.