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Beware: A swimming accident can paralyze you

If you plan to come to Hawaii this summer to luxuriate in our sun and surf, remember that water can be as dangerous as it is beautiful and refreshing. A swimming accident, whether occurring in a pool or in the ocean, could paralyze you for life

Admittedly, you likely do not think much about safety while you frolic on the beach or at the pool, but you should make every effort to refrain from taking unnecessary chances. This is especially true whenever you dive into water. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that for men, diving represents the fourth leading cause of spinal cord injury. For women, the number is only slightly lower, representing the fifth leading cause of spinal cord injury.

Diving rules

One single misplaced dive can change your life forever, paralyzing you from the neck down and turning you into a quadriplegic, someone who has little or no movement or sensation anywhere below the neck.

Whenever you dive, remember the following rules:

  • Always enter water feet first, not head first.
  • Never dive into shallow waves or into the shallow end of a swimming pool.
  • Never dive from the side of a swimming pool; you could hit your head on the opposite side.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages while swimming or diving.
  • Remember that when you dive, your body becomes a torpedo that cuts through the water; the water itself cannot protect you from severely hitting your head against whatever is in, under or around it.

The effects of a swimming accident

Most swimming and diving accidents happen to young people in the prime of their lives. A day of fun in the sun can quickly turn into the day your life changes forever. Should you become the victim of a swimming or diving accident, you could face living the rest of your life as a quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair. Not only could you not be able to walk, but you also could require constant assistance from others to do the most basic day-to-day tasks such as bathing, dressing, combing your hair, brushing your teeth, eating and drinking, and using the bathroom.

It goes without saying that no amount of fun is worth the risk of a spinal cord injury. A little forethought on your part can ensure that you will remember your Hawaiian vacation with pleasure, not pain and regret.

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