y: Linda L Lindsey, MEd and Barbara Key, MA
UAB Dept. of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Did you know that more than 850 spinal cord injuries (SCI) result from diving accidents each year? Of those, nearly 300 occur at home, either in above– or below- ground pools.
Did you know that the consequences of spinal cord injury are devastating and costly?
The majority of diving spinal injuries result in the paralysis of all four limbs (quadriplegia/tetraplegia).
The lifetime medical costs for one spinal cord injury exceed $1 million (in 1997 dollars).
SCI diving accidents typically occur in young men between the ages of 15-25 years.
Lifetime lost wages and benefits for a 25-year-old with tetraplegia typically exceed $1.5 million.
Many spinal cord injuries that occur in pools can be prevented! Be a responsible pool owner. Make sure your pool is safe!
Survey your pool area using this checklist:
Are there depth indicators clearly visible around the entire pool?
Is the pool and surrounding area well lighted during use?
Do you serve or allow alcohol to be consumed by pool guests?
Do you enforce set hours for pool use?
Is your pool secured with fencing to keep people out during inappropriate hours?
Does your pool have a designated diving area?
Do you have a lifeguard, or someone trained in water safety, present when guests are at your pool, especially during parties?
Check your answers with those below. Do you agree?
Follow these recommendations to make your pool area safe.
Yes : Clearly mark the depth of your pool. You can purchase stick-on depth indicators from your pool supply store.
Fact: Depth indicators were not present in 75% of the accidents that resulted in SCI.*
Yes : Install & use adequate lighting! Set a timer for automated lighting .
Fact: 84% of SCIs occurred in pools with inadequate or no lighting.*
No : Do not serve or allow alcohol use by pool guests.
Fact: 49% of SCIs occurred when consuming alcohol while swimming & diving.*
Yes : Set hours for use. Do not permit unsupervised swimming.
Fact: 44% of SCIs occur during a person’s first visit to pool.*
Yes : Install secure fencing to control usage.
Fact: 93% of SCIs occur to pool guests – not the owners!*
Yes : Educate guests about pool depth & safe diving area. Mark diving well clearly.
Fact: 95% of SCI occur when diving into less than 8 feet of water.*
Yes : Do not swim alone. Have a trained water-safety person present at parties. Instruct guests in proper diving techniques.
Fact: Almost 50% of SCI occur during a party. No lifeguard is on duty in 94% of accidents that resulted in SCI.*
* Facts taken from: A study by Dr. Michael J. DeVivo of UAB Dept. of PM&R for the National Swimming Pool Foundation. DeVivo, MJ and Sekar, P. Prevention of spinal cord injuries that occur in swimming pools. Spinal Cord 1997; 35:509-515.
Project funded by a grant from the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundaton (OREF). Opinions expressed in this document are not necessarily those of the granting agency.
Published by the UAB Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
1717 6th Ave South, Birmingham, AL 35233-7330
(205) 934-3283 (205)934-4642 [TDD only]
c 1999. Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama
The University of Alabama at Birmingham provides equal opportunity in education and employment.