Swimming pools are hard to beat on a warm, sunny day. Although they are enjoyable, they also have the potential for danger. In addition to drowning, swimming pools are a cause of severe spinal cord injuries in the United States. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Center, between 3 percent and 5 percent of these spinal injuries have occurred because of swimming or diving accidents. They are part of the estimated 1.27 million people living with spinal cord injuries in the U.S.
Most diving accidents occur when divers meet the bottom of the pool or with their heads or their necks, resulting in broken vertebra and damaged or cut spinal cords. The result for many diving accidents results in the injured diver becoming a quadriplegic with minimal or no use of their legs and arms. In some accidents, divers have paraplegia, meaning they have some or all use of their arms.
Swimming accidents that have a spinal cord injury as a result usually occur because another swimmer jumps on top of another person, completely unaware that the person has entered the intended target area. While fewer spinal cord injuries occur from swimming accident than from diving accidents, they do occur.
Many swimming and diving accidents could be averted through proper signs warning of the dangers of diving or swimming in a particular area. Signs warning of shallow water depths also help prevent diving accidents. Accidents could be further avoided with life guards who can monitor pool and swimming activity and can warn swimmers of impending accidents.
Source: The Ledger, "Safe Swimming: Lives Change Forever With One Bad Dive," Shelia M. Poole, May 13, 2013