The Portuguese Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology has issued a warning about diving in water of unknown depth and recommends that it becomes obligatory for lifeguards to patrol public pools. In addition, private pools should be obliged to display “do not dive” signs when the water level is insufficient.
The recommendations follow a study carried out last summer that investigated diving accidents – the first of its kind conducted at a national level by specialists in orthopaedics and neurosurgery.
The society’s president, Jorge Mineiro, explained to Lusa news agency that the study detected 17 cases of hospitalised patients, the majority aged between 14 and 29.
According to the analysis, half of the accidents resulted in permanent injury, placing the victims in wheelchairs as quadriplegics or paraplegics.
“The accidents occurred both in the ocean off beaches or private pools. It is essential that an information campaign is put in place to make people aware of the dangers of diving into water where the depth is not known,” urged Mineiro.
Accordingly, an awareness initiative has begun along selected beaches, amongst them Praia da Vila da Costa, in Costa da Caparica, near Lisbon.
“Portugal is one of the few countries that does not subscribe to obligatory life-guarding at public pools. Also, there is no legislation in place obliging private pools to display signage warnings that the depth is insufficient for diving,” he said.
The society wants to see these recommendations acted upon by summer’s end, with all public swimming pools patrolled by life-guards and private pools showing the relevant signs, even if that means writing across the bottom of the pool “do not dive”.
At sea, care should be taken to avoid diving head first from rocks or walls, especially due to the fact that when the tide turns the depth changes, added Mineiro.