Avoiding Water-Related Injuries
Summer is a carefree time. We head to the pool or shore, with our families for recreation and relaxation. Unfortunately, each summer season is tarnished by thousands of water-related injuries - mostly to young people. Many are tragically catastrophic head, neck or spine injuries.
The good news is that caution and common sense serve as the greatest protection for you and your family. The following guidelines are designed to pinpoint the most common hidden dangers in water activities.
Check the Depth Before Diving
No matter what body of water you are swimming in - pool, pond, lake, bay or ocean - check the depth before diving. At the shore, test even familiar waters; tides, shifting sand or rocks can make a once predictable place to swim unpredictable and dangerous. Severe neck, spine and head injuries occur every year from dives into too shallow water.
Never swim under the influence of drugs or alcohol - and that includes prescription medications that make you drowsy or can affect your reflexes.
Diving off a boat is particularly risky. Some pleasure boats can float in less that two feet of water. Steep slopes at the bottom of the body of water, due to natural conditions or channel dredging, can create situations where one side of the boat is in deep water, while the other side is in dangerously shallow water.
Use Caution When Swimming Off A Boat
Swimming off a boat is unsafe if there is no easy way to get back on board. Before you jump off, make sure there is a swim ladder or some other easy method for getting back into the boat.
Swimming Pool Hazards
Above ground pools are not designed for diving. Do not dive into an above ground pool. Inground pools, even those with diving boards, may pose a hazard to the unwary diver. The transition slope of the pool bottom towards the shallow end may be closer than you think. It is impossible to safely determine the angle or location of the slope by simply looking through the water. Jump in feet first off of any diving board and see how deep your momentum carries you before diving in head first. Always dive shallow, steering your body up with your hands, not down towards the bottom of the body of water.
Waterslide Safety Tips
Waterslides account for a large proportion of pool injuries. If you are an owner of a pool with a waterslide, you should seriously consider removing it. If you are a guest at a pool with a waterslide, be safe and don't use the slide. At amusement and water parks, avoid all speed waterslides - you can exceed speeds of 25 mph. Don't ever go down a waterslide head first.
Children and adolescents experiencing growth spurts or weight changes may find that a pool or other body of water deep enough for diving last year is not deep enough this year. Everyone should be particularly careful at the beginning of the pool season to reacquaint themselves with even familiar pools.
Finally, if you are going to a water amusement park, make sure that the water level in the splash pool at the end of the ride or waterslide is level with or slightly above the water flume entry. If it is not, do not use the ride or waterslide.
Follow these simple water safety tips for a happy and injury free experience. If you have any questions or would like further information, contact Anne McHugh or any of our other attorneys.
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