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Summer is a fun time that can be packed with outdoor activities, but it is also a time to be wary of preventable injuries and conditions. When we think of summer, we think of fun in the water; remember: practicing water safety can save your life.

Diving is a frequently participated in and fun activity around water. It can also result in very serious, even life-threatening injuries. Accidents can occur in a pool, lake, river, or pond; they can occur whether diving off a boat or a diving board. Diving accidents account for sixty-six percent of spinal cord injuries, mostly as a result of diving in water that is too shallow to support your weight and speed. To encourage diver safety, the University of Michigan is promoting a 30-second Public Service Announcement that will air all summer in southeastern Michigan theatres. The PSA is based on “Shattered Dreams,” a video created and produced by Evolution Media.The video features two young men who are paralyzed after diving into shallow water; one admits drinking on a boat with friends before taking a dive into 18 inches of water; it is a graphic and painful reminder that life (or the quality of that life) can change in an instant.

Diving injuries are preventable; safety awareness is the best defense. Here are five diving safety tips in any body of water.

1. Think First. There is little or no time to think after you start your dive. Know the depth of the water you are contemplating diving into and look for sharp or hazardous objects that may be in the water.

2. Steer Up. When diving, always steer upward. Arms must be extended over your head as you enter the water. Hold your head up and arch your back and push your hands and arms forward so as to steer your body in an upward motion, away from the bottom.

3. Hands Up and Out in Front of You. Extending your arms and hands overhead not only help you steer up to the surface, but they can also protect your head.

4. Control Your Dive. Practice proper diving techniques before you dive, keeping arms extended and hands flat and tipped up. Improper use of hands and arms may cause a diver to lose control.

5. Don’t Drink or Take Drugs and Dive. The slowing effects of alcohol or drugs on reaction time can be extremely dangerous. Alcohol and drugs also diminish fear and may cause us to engage in potentially dangerous behavior that we would never contemplate in a non-inebriated state of mind.

We all have an "accidents happen to other people" mentality. Having represented of provided lawsuit funding to injured people for over 33 years, I don’t think I have ever met anyone who expected to get into an accident. Accidents can happen to anyone, anytime, in a fraction of a second. Those that result from an act of God or circumstances beyond our control are one thing; those are a simple result of bad luck or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But a split second decision to do something your shouldn’t (or wouldn’t if you weren’t drunk or high), a decision that results in a serious, life altering accident that could have been prevented with safer behavior is devastating. A spine cannot be put back together again; spinal cord injuries cause permanent nerve damage, paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, even death. Walking, eating, dressing, using the toilet, basic functions that we all take for granted are effected with these serious injuries.

So, please, don’t let your summer fun turn into shattered dreams. Educate yourself and minimize the risk of injury. Don’t do this because I warn you to; do this because you love yourself and care about those who love you, as well. To purchase a copy of the video, “Shattered Dreams,” call Evolution Media at (248) 539-4610.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit fundingindustry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life funding is needed during litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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