Los Angeles County Fire Department lifeguard logo.

Spinal Injuries

Most beach-related neck and spinal cord injuries are caused by the tremendous strength of the ocean’s waves or by diving head first forcing a person’s neck and spine into harmful, unnatural positions. Spinal injuries can have lifelong consequences for the victim and family and once spinal cord damage is sustained, little can be done to medically repair it.

The Good News

Most spinal injuries are preventable by following these safety tips:

Where to swim

Swim near an open lifeguard station.

Know the conditions

Check with the lifeguards on beach and ocean conditions before entering the water.


Do not dive head first into any unknown water.

Diving risks

Do not dive from a cliff, pier or jetty.

Safer bodyboarding

While bodysurfing or bodyboarding avoid going straight “over the falls”. Try to ride the shoulder.

Protect your neck

If you wipeout, protect your head and neck by placing your arms and hands over your head.
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