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Health: Importance Of Beach Safety

stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There’s been a spike in the number of beach and ocean injuries this summer at the Jersey Shore.

Since Memorial Day they’ve more than doubled over last year, according to Atlanticare, the trauma center in Atlantic City.

12 year old Timmy Fitzpatrick has a nasty leg injury after being hit by his surf board.

“Be careful in the water. You don’t realize how bad it could hurt you,” Fitzpatrick advised.

Doctors at Atlanticare Regional Medical Center say Timmy is among a growing number of patients injured at the Jersey Shore this summer.

“We see everything from near drowning to spinal cord injuries,” said Dr. Catherine Dudick.

The trauma surgeon has had an especially busy summer. Last week Atlanticare treated 8 patients with spinal cord injuries.

“I’m not sure if the hot weather has brought more people to the beach, or if we have more visitors this year or if its just bad luck,” Dr. Dudick said.

Madeline McNichol broke her neck two years ago diving into the ocean.

“The waves are rough, the water gets very shallow, very quickly,” she said.

Madeline has fully recovered now.

Paul Haynes wasn’t as lucky. He’s a quadriplegic, after being knocked down by a powerful wave in Ocean City. It happened while he was standing in waist deep water.

“The force of Mother Nature is such where you just never know. This was such a freak accident,” Paul said.

Doctors say body surfing causes the highest number of traumatic injuries. They’re more likely to happen in rough water that gets shallow quickly.

“We’ve seen some pretty significant spinal cord injuries associated with broken necks,” Dr. Dudick said.

Experts say it’s important to always make sure you’re near a life guard at the shore.

Find beach safety advice here.