4 Tips For Avoiding Spine Injuries At The Lake
Category: Spinal Cord Injury | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 21, 2016
The weather is warming up, and soon people will be flocking to Lake Harriet or hooking their boat up to the truck to head up to the cottage for the weekend. Few things beat a Saturday on the lake, but unfortunately, thousands of people end up in the emergency department or on the operating table because of a spine injury suffered while having fun on the water. A back or spine injury is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re hanging out on the beach, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how to protect yourself from injuries. Here are some tips to keep in mind so you can avoid a catastrophic spine injury at the lake.
Know Where You’re Diving
Unlike the community pool, your lake isn’t going to come marked with a shallow end. Know the depth of the area you are diving into before you jump. Even if you’ve always dove off the dock, jump in feet first, or better yet, walk in the lake to that area to see for yourself just how deep the water is. The tide could be low or the shoreline could have shifted over the winter, so don’t just dive in without safely checking the depth first.
If you’re going water skiing, tubing or wakeboarding, make sure you and your driver are on the same page. Also, always make sure you have a spotter to ensure you are still safely riding behind the boat. Don’t go at speeds you are uncomfortable with, and establish a route and some hand signals with your driver and spotter so you can communicate from afar. If you’re going to be traveling at high speed or performing very technical jumps, don’t be afraid to grab a wakeboarding helmet. The professionals wear them to keep their head, neck and spine protected, and you should too.
This applies to the above category, but we felt it deserved its own point as well. In order to boat safely, you need to be boating sober. If you’re going to stay in the boat as a passenger, it’s okay to responsibly indulge with adult beverages, but if you’re going to be swimming, skiing, tubing or driving, save the alcohol until you’re docked for the day. Alcohol can inhibit your balance, which can lead to falls on the boat or while you’re being pulled behind it. A number of people who end up in the emergency room with a spine injury suffered on the lake have alcohol in their system, so make smart choices.
Wear a Life Vest
A life vest keeps your head and shoulders above the water line, which is important for a few reasons. First it keeps you breathing air, which is essential, but it also serves another vital purpose. Staying on the surface of the water makes you visible to other boaters. If you fall while skiing or get dumped while tubing, you’re going to be left in the middle of the lake while the boat turns around. If other boats can’t see you, they may inadvertently strike you with their propeller, which can be catastrophic. These injuries are rare, but you always hear about one or two Minnesotans who are injured by propellers each summer. Wear a bright vest so you are easily spotted.