Prevent Diving Accidents and Drownings this Holiday Season | Western Cape Government

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Prevent Diving Accidents and Drownings this Holiday Season

7 December 2015

The holiday season is upon us, a time when vacationers will make their way to beaches, tidal pools, swimming pools and other swimming facilities. It is also the busiest time for Acute Post-traumatic Spinal Cord Injuries. 

While this may be an opportunity to relax and have fun, be alert.  Severe spinal cord injuries secondary to diving accidents are preventable. 

Avoid diving accidents by following these helpful safety tips: 
•    Dive feet first. Head first diving, whether with outstretched arms or not, is extremely risky and is not enough to prevent neck injuries. 
•    Never swim under or near diving boards
•    Only one person should be on a diving board at a time
•    Never jump or dive to the side of the diving board
•    Avoid diving into turbid water or waves and tidal pools at low tide
•    Never dive into water if you cannot see the bottom – there could be rocks or sand banks below the water surface.
•    Be careful when bodysurfing
•    If someone is injured in a diving accident, contact Emergency Medical Services (EMS) immediately and ensure that their neck is stabalised and that there is no movement.

The majority of these injured patients, mostly young males between the ages of 15 and 25 years, will be permanently paralysed from the neck down (quadriplegic). 

Emergency and Rescue Services are also kept busy with drownings and/or near drownings. 

Remember these water safety tips to avoid drowning:
•    Children must always be accompanied by an adult when visiting the beach or other swimming facilities.
•    Use a non-slip mat in the bath and never leave small children alone in the bath.
•    Ensure that swimming pools are properly fenced off and have a childproof lock on the gate. Never leave the gate open.
•    Add a professionally installed pool safety net to cover your pool.
•    Empty paddling pools when not in use
•    Always wear a lifejacket when on a boat or canoe
•    Never try to swim against a current: in the sea, swim parallel to the beach and in a river, swim diagonally with the flow.
•    If someone is in trouble, throw the victim something that floats or offer a long object to hold onto – avoid jumping in yourself. 

Additional Information:
•    Groote Schuur Hospital’s Acute Spinal Cord Injury Unit admits and treats an average of six patients every year who sustain severe neck injuries secondary to diving accidents.
•    Injuries occur at dams, rivers, beaches, tidal pools and swimming pools
•    Children drown in buckets, baths, ponds, canals, vlei areas, dams, rivers, the sea, pools and even in drains.
•    Interviews with experts can be arranged through Alaric Jacobs.

Media Enquiries: 

Alaric Jacobs
Principal Communications Officer: Groote Schuur Hospital
Tel: 021 404 2188
E-mail: Alaric.Jacobs@westerncape.gov.za  

Angelique Jordaan
Principal Communications Officer: Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
Tel: 021 658 5448
E-mail: Angelique.Jordaan@westerncape.gov.za