Swimming is a favorite summer activity for many adults and children. Nearly 1,000 diving-related spinal cord injuries occur each year in the United States. Diving accounts for 10% of all spinal cord injuries and 60-65% of all recreational spinal cord injuries. But each year, more than 2,000 children die from drowning and many others suffer permanent disabilities from near drowning. Here are a few tips to keep in mind this summer:
- Water should be 9 feet deep to permit diving from the side of a pool and 12 feet deep to permit diving from a diving board.
- Children should never swim, dive, play near the water or a boat with adult supervision.
- Children should have an adult check the depth of the water before going in.
- Never somersault into pools, lakes or any other body of water.
- Children should wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) during water activities. Note: most states require children under 12 years to wear PFDs while in a boat.
- Never swim in unfamiliar waters and always follow water safety rules that are posted.
- Make sure the water is deep enough to dive in by walking in feet first, first time.
- Check natural bodies of water for brambles, rubbish and muddy bottoms where a person could be caught or trapped.
- Know not to panic in an emergency situation. Try to float in the water.
- In case of an emergency, children should know to call an adult, throw a line or life preserver if someone is in trouble, or call 911 (or local emergency number).
Keeping these tips in mind can help your summer water activities result in a splash and a smile.
From THINK FIRST, Prevention Pages, Summer 1997, Volume 8, No. 4
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