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Diving: Know what you’re getting yourself into

Posted on by Daniel Wu, DO, FACOS, FACS


A refreshing dip in the pool or lake goes hand-in-hand with summer. However, along with the fun comes the potential for serious injuries. So before you dive into any shallow body of water, keep some important safety tips in mind.

A glimpse at the data

A look at the numbers illustrates the magnitude of the problem. Each year, nearly 26,000 people are injured, some even paralyzed, after suffering injuries from diving into bodies of water, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Diving is the fourth leading cause of spinal cord injury for men and the fifth for women.

The good news is diving injuries are almost entirely preventable. Here are some simple tips to keep you safe.

6 tips for safe diving

  • Whether diving from a diving board or the side of a pool or lake, jump in feet first to assess the environment.
  • Never dive into an above-ground pool. The American Red Cross recommends a minimum of 9 feet of water depth for head-first dives.
  • Don’t drink and dive: More than half of all diving incidents involve the use of alcohol. Alcohol impairs your judgment and reaction time and makes diving dangerous.
  • Only one person should stand on a diving board at a time, and dive only off the end of the board. Swim away from the board after diving.
  • Don’t show off: The American Institutes for Research reports 16.8% of diving injuries occur when attempting an unusual or trick dive.
  • If you are a pool owner, post “no diving” warning signs. 8 out of 10 accidents happened in pools with no warning signs. And heed “no diving” signs.

Enjoying the water is a great summertime activity. Don’t let one dive change your life forever.

 | Trauma & Acute Care Surgery

Daniel Wu, DO, FACOS, FACS, is the Associate Trauma Program Medical Director at Lancaster General Hospital. Dr. Wu is board certified in general surgery with expertise in emergency general surgery, surgical critical care, and trauma surgery. Education: Medical School—New York College of Osteopathic Medicine: Residency—Lutheran Medical Center; Fellowship—University of Nevada School of Medicine.

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