Pool Safety Can Prevent Serious Injury

Pool Safety Can Prevent Serious Injury

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One of my favorite books as a youth was Joni, the story of a teenage girl who became a quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident. During the summer of 1967 Joni Eareckson (Tada) dived into a lake, not knowing how shallow the water was. She survived the dive, but her neck was broken leaving her permanently paralyzed. After two years of extensive rehabilitation along with her making peace with God, Joni emerged as a voice for the disabled in the Christian community.

HawaiiAccidents like Joni’s are all too common, sometimes resulting in death. The Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation of West Orange, NJ treats people who have experienced spinal injury or head trauma, many as a result of diving in water. “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 for Kessler. “Injuries to the head, neck and spinal column are serious and can result in paralysis, or even death.”

Top 10 Water Safety Tips

Kessler is one of just six federally designated Model Systems for the treatment and research of both traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. To encourage pool safety, the institute offers their Top 10 Water Safety tips:

  1. 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!
  2. Watch your guests. More than 90% of injuries occur to visitors, rather than owners.
  3. Never dive into an above-ground pool and be careful around ladders and other equipment.
  4. Never drink and dive. “Drinking impairs an individual’s judgment and slows reactions,” explains Kirshblum. “Nearly half of all diving accidents resulting in a serious injury involve alcohol consumption.”
  5. Don’t swim alone. Ideally, a lifeguard or someone trained in water safety should always be present.
  6. Always check the depth of water before going in. Levels may be deceptive, especially where drought conditions existed. Be sure that there are no rocks or debris below the surface.
  7. Enter the water at lakes and ponds feet first to avoid injury.
  8. Never dive into the ocean. It’s difficult to see what’s under the surf, particularly sand bars. And tides constantly cause the ocean sands to shift.
  9. 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.
  10. Educate children. Safe water behaviors should be taught at an early age so children can make smart decisions when involved in water activities.

Enjoy Your Summer!

Summer should be a time of fun and relaxation, a season where families can get rejuvenated while enjoying their favorite outdoor activities. Exercise care while in the water to ensure your safety as well as those who are under your care.

Source: Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation

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