How Dangerous Is Scuba Diving?

divers diving

Diving is fun but there are certain risks and dangers that if tasks are not properly executed such as doing the buddy equipment check or ascending too fast can lead to problems. Diving is generally safe as long as you follow a simple set of rules just like driving a car.

There is extensive training giving to scuba divers when they are getting certified, this is to reduce the risks and teach divers the best practices.

Diving is a technical sport and you rely on your equipment but most diving incidents to divers are not down to not equipment failure but the divers not knowing their equipment or making poor or risky choices.

In this post, we will go through the dangers or risks of scuba diving and you can make a well-informed decision on scuba diving. Let’s get started!

Read more on common questions asked by divers

There Are 3 Main Risks To Divers

There are 3 main risks to scuba diving when comes to divers health. These are as follows.

  • Barotrauma.
  • Decompression Sickness.
  • Nitrogen Narcosis.


Barotrauma is damage caused to the body which is caused by a difference in pressure between a gas space inside the body, and the surrounding gas or fluid.

For divers, it is the middle ears which are are dead air spaces, connected to the outer world only by the Eustachian tubes running to the back of your throat. The problem occurs when there the middle ears pressure does not match that of the outside world.

You need to open Eustachian tubes to allow higher-pressure air from your throat to enter your middle ears. Divers equalize their ears during a dive by pinching their nose and gently blowing.

Decompression Sickness

Decompression sickness is also known as the “the bends,” which is caused by a rapid decrease in the pressure that surrounds you, of either air or water causing the body’s tissues to absorb more nitrogen.

When scuba diving, you use compressed air in your tank. That air is made up of extra oxygen and nitrogen. Your body uses the oxygen, whereas nitrogen is dissolved into your blood.

If you ascend too quickly the nitrogen does not have time to clear from your blood. This extra nitrogen can form potentially harmful bubbles.

Divers should return to the surface slowly following the speed of their air bubbles. This controls the rate at which this absorbed nitrogen is released.

scuba diver

Nitrogen Narcosis

Nitrogen narcosis is a temporary condition, where a diver can appear drunk or hallucinations that occurs while diving at depth. Deep-sea divers use tanks usually contain a mix of oxygen, nitrogen.

When divers, dive deeper than about 100 feet, the pressure increases and as a result can alter these gasses. And as the divers use the air from their tank, the altered gasses can produce symptoms that often make a person appear or act drunk.

What Are The Dangers Of Scuba Diving?

Scuba diving is one of the most popular hobby sports in the world, enjoyed by people of all ages from all walks of life. There are risks to Scuba diving, so let’s go through them.

The Equipment Or Equipment Failure

When you are diving you depend on your equipment. There is a reason why there is the buddy-check system that you would have learned when get certified and experienced divers practice doing it.

Most diving incidents around the equipment are not that the equipment failed but because of diver uncertainty as to how it works.

Don’t be lazy when it comes to checking your gear before a dive and doing the buddy-check thoroughly.

scuba diving

Never Hold Your Breath

This is the first thing divers are told not to do. This is the most important rule of scuba diving. The reason is that the air in the diver’s lungs expands during ascent and contracts during descent.

There is no problem if the diver breathes continuously and slowly because the air is expelled. On the other hand, if a diver holds their breath, the air can no longer get out and it expands.

And eventually, the alveoli that make up the lung walls could rupture, causing serious damage to the organ.

Practice Safe Ascents

Ascending is as important as breathing continuously. This should be done slowly and safely at all times. And use the safety stop which is the dive is finished a diver will signal to their buddy to ascend to 5 meters where they will remain for 3 minutes.

This helps to get any excess nitrogen in the diver’s bodies out that build up during the over dive. If divers ascend too fast, the nitrogen absorbed into the bloodstream will not have time to dissolve.

Bubbles will form in the bloodstream, leading to decompression sickness.

Stay Physically Fit

In reality, diving can be physically demanding as you may have to work against strong currents, carrying the gear, and exposure to extreme weather all combine to make diving a strenuous activity.

Staying in a good stay, not only helps with your stamina but improves your air consumption. Whereas if you are unfit this can make things more challenging, ultimately you will use up your are a lot faster which can cause people to panic.

Dive Within Your limits

Knowing your diving limits is important. Above all, remember that diving should be fun. Never put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. If there is something that doesn’t can feel right about the dive. Then call it off.

When it comes to health and safety, it should take priority. So don’t be afraid to cancel the dive or if the diving conditions are unsafe that day then change the location and date.

The dive conditions can change from day to day which can have fluctuations in surface conditions, temperature, and current. You should never attempt to dive beyond your qualification levels such as wreck penetrations and deep dive.

Marine Life

When diving in the sea, divers should remember that they are surrounded by wild animals. Most sea life is not aggressive but some are territorial and attacks are rare but do happen.

Some divers try and take a photo with these animals for Instagram, putting themself in danger as well as their dive buddies.

Look but don’t touch should be the policy. Touching the wildlife is dangerous and can damage the corals. Don’t grab the reef, or chase and grab animals.

scuba diving is fun

3 Rules Of Scuba Diving

There are 3 simple rules to follow in scuba diving. These 3 commonly agreed rules are important for divers safety as well as for there been.

Never Hold Your Breathe

This is an important rule of scuba diving. The reason is that the air in a diver’s lungs expands during ascent and contracts during descent. If you do hold breathe you could cause serious damage to your lungs.

Equalise Early, Often And Before You Feel Pain

You need to equalize your ear regularly Divers. Never force to equalize and should never feel any pain.

Look But Don't Touch

Look but don’t touch should be the policy. Touching the wildlife is dangerous and can damage the corals. Don’t grab the reef, or chase and grab animals.

Is Scuba Diving An Extreme Sport?

Yes, scuba diving is classed as an extreme sport. This is because of the classification of what an extreme sport is. To be an extreme sport both expression terms need to be fulfilled.

  • Sport” – The participant has to use a good level of skill and/or physical ability to avoid poor execution of the activity.
  • Extreme” – Any poor execution of the activity could result in serious physical harm to the participant.

You can read more on Wikipedia on this.

Diving qualifies on the expression of “sport“, as it requires learning and developing new skills, practice, and a certain physical ability.

Diving qualifies on the expression of “extreme“, as if a diver does something wrong, like ascending too quickly, this can cause serious injury or death.

Many travel insurance companies either exclude scuba diving or limit the depth at which the cover will count for insurance purposes.

Wrapping Up

Finally, scuba diving is fun but it is a technical sport with set rules focused on health and safety. As long as you follow the rules, use common sense, and stay within your dive limits you will be fine.

And if things go wrong don’t panic, remember to stay calm and use the tools you have to get help.

And that’s it for now! I’d love to know if this guide on how dangerous is scuba diving has helped you. Let me know if you have any questions and let me know if there is more to add.

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Why Dangerous is Scuba Diving

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