Rumor has it that thousands of students will Jump into Mirror Lake on Tuesday evening. Our health and safety concerns are not likely to impede this event, so let’s consider a few steps to make it safer.
Feet: Wear something on your feet! Between glass shards on High Street and sticks in the grass and unknown objects buried in the muck on the bottom of the lake, bare feet are prime targets for cuts and other trauma. At a minimum, consider wearing a cheap pair of flip-flops, strapped on with duct tape so that they don’t fall off in the mud.
Neck: Never, ever dive into Mirror Lake or any other shallow, murky body of water. The risk of disaster, including catastrophic injury to the brain or spine, is ridiculously high.
Skin: When running, jumping, wading, and falling meets rocks, sticks, broken glass, and throngs of partiers, there is great opportunity for bruises, abrasions, and lacerations. Add contamination with skanky lake water, and risk for infection is high. When you get home, take a shower (seems like reasonable advice regardless) and pay special attention to wash any broken skin with soap and water.
Eyes: If you wear contact lenses, consider leaving them at home. At a minimum, take out the contacts as soon as you get home and wash or replace them. Skanky water (a recurring theme) + contact lenses + horseplay + late night = increased risk for funky mirror lake eye infection, especially if the cornea has been abraded by friction from the contact lens.
Hypothermia: Our colleagues in the Emergency Department at the OSU Wexner Medical Center tell us that many of the students who end up in the ER in the hours during and after the Jump suffer from hypothermia. This isn’t surprising given typical midnight temperatures in Columbus in late November coupled with the dubious heat-retaining properties of a wet pair of speedos. The nature of the Jump does not lend itself to staying warm and snuggly, but it also does not require coursework in computational astrophysics to appreciate that intoxication makes hypothermia all the more dangerous.
Soul: Friends don’t let friends do the Mirror Lake Jump alone. Go with a friend. Keep track of your friend. If there’s trouble, ask for help. Call 9-1-1. Do the right thing.
If you Jump, please be safe. FYI, Student Health Services will be open Wednesday.
Happy Thanksgiving Week!
James R. Jacobs, MD, PhD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University