Orthopedic Surgeons Weigh in on Pool Safety

SATURDAY Aug. 2, 2008 -- Most people love a dip in the pool to cool off during the summer swelter, but don't let that refreshing feeling make you forgot basic safety rules.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, medical professionals in 2007 treated almost 172,000 swimming-related injuries, including fractures, strains, sprains and contusions. With a bit of common sense, many of these injuries can be prevented.

"One must remember to exercise caution while swimming, especially before diving or jumping into unknown depths of water, where many head, neck and back injuries can occur," orthopaedic surgeon Joseph Weistroffer, a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Leadership Fellows Program, said in a news release issued by the organization.

The AAOS offers these other tips to increase swimming safety:

  • Never swim alone or allow others to swim alone.
  • Supervise children at all times. Anyone watching children near water should know CPR and be able to rescue a child.
  • Swim only in supervised areas where lifeguards are present.
  • Never swim if you feel tired, cold or overheated.
  • Always inspect the depth of the water to make sure it is deep enough for diving. Never dive into shallow water.

When swimming in open water, such as the ocean or a lake:

  • Carefully monitor the weather. Avoid being in the water during storms, fog or high winds.
  • Do not swim after a storm, if the water seems to be rising or if there is flooding.
  • Never enter waves head first.
  • Avoid body surfing, as this activity results in many cervical spine injuries, shoulder dislocations and humeral fractures.

Safety rules for diving boards include:

  • Only one person at a time on the board.
  • Dive only off the end of the board.
  • Walk, don't run on the board.
  • Do not try to dive far out or bounce more than once.
  • Make room for the next diver by swimming away from the board immediately afterward hitting the water.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about water safety.

Posted: August 2008


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