Summer comes, and again we orthopaedic surgeons see patients who dive into shallow water, fracture (break) their necks (cervical spines) and are paralyzed! Many must be pulled from the water because they can’t move their arms or legs, and have difficulty breathing.

It is estimated that about 800 spinal cord injuries occur in the USA annually as a result of diving errors. Teens and young adult males are often the victims, caught off guard by alcohol, or “rough-house” play, or just not thinking. How can we help reduce these catastrophic injuries?

1. Never-ever dive into an above-ground pool. They are dangerously shallow.

2. THINK TWICE before you run and dive into the ocean. Changing tides and waves cause the ocean sands to continually shift and you will not see the sandbar. Even ocean life guards have been paralyzed this way. Click here to read an article on this.

3. Check the shape of the full diving area to make sure it is deep enough. Dive only off the end of the diving board. Don’t run on the board, or try to dive too far out, or bounce more than once. Swim away from the board immediately after the dive, to allow room for the next diver. There should only be one person on the board at a time.

4. Never-ever dive in the shallow part of a pool. Know the depth of water you might dive into. THINK TWICE!

5. Do not dive from ocean or lake piers. You never know if the water is deep enough, even at the far end of the pier.

6. In rivers, ponds, lakes and streams you can’t see the bottom. There may be rocks or tree trunks hidden below. Droughts can lower the water level year to year. THINK TWICE–walk into the water. (

7. If you own a pool, it is your responsibility to mark the depths, place warning signs and monitor guests.

8. Teach children diving safety when they are young. Repeat it often. They will never forget. THINK TWICE (BEFORE YOU DIVE)

For more information on diving safety, visit