Many diving injuries result when persons --predominantly males aged 15-25 years -- plunge into swimming pools or natural bodies of water such as rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. In one study, 15 cases of quadriplegia were reported. One resulted from a dive into a swimming pool; the other 14 cases resulted from dives into rivers, streams, lakes, or oceans. Only three of these injured persons had objective evidence of the depth of the water at the time of injury, Most of the divers had underestimated it.
Droughts resulting in low water levels in rivers, lakes, and streams increase the risk of spinal cord injuries from diving, even in natural bodies of water previously considered safe. Because of extremely low water levels, no one should dive -- even into a familiar body of water --until the depth of the water has been objectively measured.
Several strategies to prevent diving injuries have been suggested. The authorities can closely monitor water levels in natural bodies of water during periods of low rainfall and can post warning signs to alert potential divers of hazards. In some localities, public education and poster campaigns have been used, and areas that are too shallow for diving have been posted as being hazardous. Other strategies urge divers to determine the depth of the water by wading into it before diving or by first jumping feet first into the water.