Ah, summertime. If you live in the Delaware Valley, that most certainly means a trip or two to the Jersey Shore. It’s a great place to soak up sun, surf and hopefully an ice cream cone. But this time of year, it’s also the site of many spinal cord and brain injuries. Nationwide, diving is responsible for hundreds of spinal cord and brain injuries every year.
The good news is all these injuries are preventable. Here are our tips for staying safe while enjoying everything the shore (or lake or pool) has to offer.
Test the Waters
Always, always, ALWAYS check the depth of the water before you dive in. On pools, this is clearly marked, but if you’re at the shore or lake, it’s not as easy to tell. Your best bet is to jump in feet first to ensure the water is at least 9 feet deep and obstruction-free. Do not dive head first until you know it’s safe to do so.
Know Your Surroundings
Chances are, you aren’t going to stay in the exact same spot for your time at the shore. Just because it is safe in one area does not mean it will be in the other. Many injuries are caused by sandbars the divers didn’t see, or in pools where it transitions from deep to shallow. If you’re swimming in open water, be sure to ask the lifeguard on duty about water conditions and stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties as they are often home to permanent rip currents. And lastly, be aware of the people around you and what they are doing. Avoid swimming in areas with water crafts like jet skis or speed boats.
Watch for Waves
Wave are a force to be reckoned with – they can pick you up and carry you wherever they choose. You should never dive head first into a wave. Ever. There is more that can go wrong than right in that scenario. But there are ways to catch waves safely. If you’re body boarding, be sure to hold the board so it extends past your head. If you’re holding it correctly, the board can act as a shield and protection.
Seriously, people. Alcohol and water do not mix.
If you follow these tips, you can have a fun and safe time on the water this summer!