Sprains, breaks and spinal injuries: The risk of leaping before you look

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Jumping into the local waterway is a popular Australian summer activity, but experts warn the risk of injury can far outweigh the reward.

As the temperature rises, people flock to beaches, rivers and waterholes to cool down.

Towns across the country have that one, often dangerous, place where locals go to hurl themselves from height into the water.

But every year emergency departments regularly see injuries from people ignoring the risks, from sprains to broken bones and even severe spinal injuries.

At the Tallebudgera Creek Bridge on the Gold Coast, signs clearly prohibit the activity and threaten fines for those flouting the rules.

But local Debbie Craft said that did not stop some close calls.

“I’ve come out from under the bridge on my kayak and a young girl has jumped onto the front side, nearly catapulting me out of it,” she said.

“It shocked me and shocked her.”

Emergency medicine specialist Mellissa McGrath said people needed to think carefully about the consequences.

“I would tell my kids to never do it. I would tell my kid’s friends to never do it as well,” she said.

“It’s just really dangerous, especially if there’s any drugs or alcohol on board as well.”

The damage could affect people for the rest of their lives.

“There can be long-lasting effects such as paraplegia,” Dr McGrath said.

Gold Coast Surf Life Saving Services co-ordinator Nathan Fife said lifesavers saw people jumping, diving and even flipping off local bridges.

“It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” Mr Fife said.

“A lot of people end up in wheelchairs because of these kinds of ‘fun’ things that our kids do.”

The lifesavers are already busy looking after swimmers, but they also have to keep an eye on the bridges.

“Every day there are close calls,” Mr Fife said.

“They’re jumping off, five at a time, jumping on top of each other.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate urged parents to discourage kids from taking the risk.

He has also suggested following the lead of graphic anti-smoking campaigns.

“End results, like [photos] on the cigarette cases … I might look at the idea of putting that up there for deterrent,” he said.

This post first appeared on ABC Health News. Read the original article.

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