June 6, 2002
Methodist Rehabilitation Center urges swimmers, divers to 'think first' about safety
JACKSON—Physicians at Methodist Rehabilitation Center are encouraging swimmers and divers to think first about safety, especially during the summer months.
“Each year, about 1,000 diving-related injuries occur”, said Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director at Methodist Rehab. “This accounts for 10 percent of all spinal cord injuries and 60 percent of all recreational injuries.”
Dr. Vohra recommends always checking the water for a minimum depth of ten feet before diving or jumping in and to be aware of “no diving” or “no swimming” signs.
“If there is a “no diving” sign it means the water is not safe for a head first entry. Check the water for hidden rocks before entering the water feet first,” Dr. Vohra said.
Lauren Fairburn, director of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide safety and injury prevention program says there are other safety concerns to consider around water.
“Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 14 and under,” said Fairburn.
Fairburn says that children under one year of age most often drown in bathtubs, toilets or buckets. Children age one to four usually drown in swimming pools, hot tubs and spas and children ages 5 to 14 tend to drown in swimming pools, lakes or rivers.
“Alcohol use is involved in nearly 50 percent of all teenage and adult drowning deaths,” said Fairburn.
Dr. Vohra’s offers the following tips for keeping safe around water:
- Never swim alone. Whether you are swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake, always have someone else with you to help in case of an emergency.
- Know your limits. If you are not a skilled swimmer, don’t try to keep up with friends. Always wear a life jacket and stay close to shore.
- Never leave a child unattended in or around water. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water in a matter of seconds. If you own a pool or spa, consider installing a fence and always make sure children who cannot swim wear life jackets.
- Check the water for a minimum depth of ten feet before diving or jumping.
- Never eat or chew gum while swimming or diving. Choking is the leading cause of unintentional death in young children and can be dangerous in water.
- Take swimming lessons. Enroll yourself and your children age four and older in swimming lessons. It can save their life.
- Learn CPR. This particularly applies to pool and boat owners.
- Never drink alcohol while boating or swimming.
“Traumatic injuries peak during the summer months when children are out of school and aren’t supervised as much, ” said Dr. Vohra. “The more time they spend outdoors increases their risk of injury, especially if they aren’t protected with the appropriate safety gear and supervision.”
Think First is aimed at young children and teenagers and tries to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by focusing on fire, bicycle, automobile, firearm, boat, swimming and diving safety.