Summer is a fun time — and with a little patience and precaution, it can be kept that way.
When swimming this summer, think before you dive. Diving is one of the most preventable causes of spinal cord injuries there is. Yet more than 1,800 diving accidents occur every year that result in spinal cord injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. The majority of these injuries result in paralysis of all four limbs.
Don’t let one summer-time diving decision change your whole life. Diving injuries can be prevented with a bit of precaution.
Here are a few tips:
- Always enter water feet first.
- Never dive head first into shallow water. More than 90 percent of diving accidents occur each year in 6 feet of water or less.
- Never dive into water that doesn’t have a clear bottom such as a lake or ocean. Rocks, logs, sand bars or other objects could be hidden below the surface.
- Never dive into an above-ground pool.
- Make sure you can see the bottom of a body of water at its deepest point.
- Check the shape and length of the water to be sure the diving area is large enough and deep enough for a dive.
- Carefully inspect home pools and hotel pools. Many – even those fitted with diving boards – are unsafe for diving. The deep end may be too short, which means the diver could strike his or her head on the slope of the pool leading to the shallow end.
- Obey “No Diving” signs.
- Don’t drink alcohol before or during swimming or diving. It affects balance, coordination, and judgment.