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Before You Take the Plunge ... Kessler Offers 10 Important Tips on Water Safety

WEST ORANGE, N.J., June 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Summer is here and along with days spent at the pool, lake or ocean comes the increased risk of water-related injuries. In fact, diving is among the leading causes of spinal cord and traumatic head injuries in the United States today.

"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 ( at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, West Orange, NJ ( "Injuries to the head, neck and spinal column are serious and can result in paralysis, or even death."

Each year thousands of people nationwide suffer spinal cord injuries and head trauma from diving into water that is too shallow. Diving accounts for more than half of all sports-related spinal cord injuries ( and statistics indicate that 90% of diving-related accidents occur in water that is eight feet deep or less, and a majority of these accidents take place at home in above- or below- ground pools.

Whether you are a pool owner or guest, go to the lake or beach, safety is a priority. Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, one of the nation's leading rehabilitation hospitals and one of only 6 federally designated Model Systems for the treatment and research of both traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, offers these Top 10 Water Safety Tips:

  • 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!

  • Watch your guests. More than 90% of injuries occur to visitors, rather than owners.

  • Never dive into an above-ground pool and be careful around ladders and other equipment.

  • 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."

  • Don't swim alone. Ideally, a lifeguard or someone trained in water safety should always be present.

  • 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.

  • Enter the water at lakes and ponds feet first to avoid injury.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Educate children. Safe water behaviors should be taught at an early age so children can make smart decisions when involved in water activities.

Contact: Irene Maslowski, 973-226-1494 or

For Fast Facts About Spinal Cord Injury, visit

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SOURCE Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
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