"Three Questions" is an American Red Cross in Greater New York blog series featuring staff, volunteers, and partners who help carry out our humanitarian mission. Through these short interviews, we hope to shine a light on our different programs and get to know those who make this work possible.
Zachary Terzano has been involved with the American Red Cross since he took a water safety class in Hempstead, Long Island at six years old. Zachary has continued his passion for the water through his teenage and adult life. He started as a Water Safety Instructor at 16 years old and later began lifeguarding at 24. In the past year and half, Zachary has become an Instructor Trainer, training people on Long Island via the organization (and Red Cross partner) Aquatic Solutions. He also works to promote Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguarding classes and make sure that safety guidelines are being met.
What should someone keep in mind when visiting a pool for the first time?
A big thing when you first go to a facility is to look for signage, that’s the biggest thing, it’s the tell-tale indication of what is safe, what to do, what not to do. They’ll be pool rules, things like that, around the pool. Also, the lifeguard has more knowledge on that so anything that the lifeguard does enforce or tells you to do you want to follow that. You also have outdoor backyard pools which get a little bit more dangerous, so just making sure that the owner of the house is alert. I have a pool in my backyard now, so just making sure that anytime that I have people over, I’m always on top of it, it's a big responsibility. If you do have a party it’s good to have a certified lifeguard there.
What causes the most accidents and what should people do if an accident happens?
When you’re with your peers you always want to have fun, joke around with your friends. A big thing is horseplay that’s unnecessary, and unfortunately, that’s the biggest thing that leads to danger. Yes, have fun but you want to do that in a safe way. [If there is a problem] in a supervised facility a lifeguard would be trained to help them and address that situation, but if it is unfortunately not a supervised facility or you are in a backyard, calling 911 is the biggest thing to make sure you do. It is also a big thing to try to take an American Red Cross class just to be at least trained in CPR or First Aid. The Red Cross also has some really nice resources like the First Aid app.
Why is water safety so important to you personally?
My friend in college was diving into the water and hit his head and ended up breaking his neck. He was on the swimming team and was a qualified swimmer, but you still have to be careful when you’re in and near the water. He recovered and was back swimming for the next year, but unfortunately accidents happen, and you just have to try to be safe.