Kessler Offers 10 Important Tips On Water Safety

WEST ORANGE – Summer is finally here and along with days spent at the pool, lake or ocean comes the increased risk of water-related injuries.  In fact, diving is among the leading causes of spinal cord and traumatic head injuries in the United States today.

“Diving is arguably the most dangerous thing a person can do in water,” says Steven Kirshblum, MD, medical director and director of Spinal Cord Injury Services at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, West Orange.  “Injuries to the head, neck and spinal column are serious and can result in paralysis, or even death.”

Each year thousands of people nationwide suffer spinal cord injuries and head trauma from diving into water that is too shallow.  In fact, diving accounts for more than half of all sports-related spinal cord injuries.

Statistics indicate that 90 percent of diving-related accidents occur in water that is eight feet deep or less, with the majority of these accidents taking place at home in above- or below- ground pools.

Whether you are a pool owner or guest, go to the lake or visit the beach, safety is obviously a priority.  Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, one of the nation’s leading rehabilitation hospitals and one of only six federally designated Model Systems for the treatment and research both traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, offers these Top 10 Water Safety

? If you are a pool owner, be sure to have clearly marked depth indicators around the entire pool.  Post “No Diving” signs – and enforce that rule!

? Watch your guests.  More than 90 percent of injuries occur to pool visitors, rather than owners.

? Never dive into an above-ground pool and be careful around ladders and other equipment.

? Never drink and dive. “Drinking impairs an individual’s judgment and slows reactions,” explains Kirshblum.  “Nearly half of all diving accidents that result in a serious injury involve alcohol consumption.”

? Do not swim alone. Ideally, a lifeguard or someone trained in water safety should always be present.

? Always check the depth of lakes, ponds and the ocean before going in.  Water levels may be deceptive, especially where drought conditions existed.   Be sure that there are no rocks or debris below the surface.

? Enter the water at lakes and ponds feet first to avoid injury.

? Never dive into the ocean.  It’s difficult to see what’s under the surf, particularly sand bars.  Remember, too, that the tides constantly cause the ocean sands to shift.

? Even if areas are marked as being safe for diving, do not dive if your trajectory will place you in less than nine feet of water.  When diving from a board, the water should be deeper than 12 feet.

? Educate children. Safe water behaviors should be taught at an early age so children can make smart decisions when involved in water activities.

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