7 Scuba Diving Dangers
Barotrauma is the forming of an air pocket in the middle ear due to increased underwater pressure at rapid speeds. To avoid this severe pain, divers should ‘equalize’ as they travel slowly into the depths by pinching their nose shut and blowing or by chewing and swallowing to push air out of the middle ear. If divers do not equalize, they can cause irreparable damage to their middle ear.
#6 Decompression Sickness
Decompression Sickness otherwise known as ‘the bends’ is caused by increased underwater pressure allowing bodily tissue to absorb excess and unwanted nitrogen. When water pressure is reduced rapidly, the excess nitrogen forms harmful bubbles throughout the body. As divers return to the water's surface, they will need to do so in slow and monitored stages in order for the nitrogen to release naturally. Decompression sickness has a range of consequences from aching joints to paralysis and death - the negative effects will depend upon the amount of excess nitrogen absorbed.
#5 Nitrogen Narcosis
Nitrogen Narcosis is another nitrogen-related danger but this issue is caused by the narcotic effect of excess nitrogen in the body. Nitrogen narcosis is dangerous because it impairs sensory perception and judgement much like nitrous oxide gas does when you visit the dentist for oral surgery. The degree of nitrogen narcosis directly related to how deep the diver travels and how much nitrogen they have negatively absorbed.
#4 Oxygen Toxicity
Oxygen Toxicity is a rarer diving danger as it is a problem only encountered by deep sea divers traveling below 135 ft. Much similar to the excess absorption of nitrogen, the body will absorb excess oxygen under increased underwater pressure as well. Oxygen toxicity is not a problem for most divers, however when diving extreme depths an over absorption of excess oxygen can become highly toxic to the body. The negative effects of oxygen toxicity include nausea, twitching, tunnel vision, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
#3 Pulmonary Embolism
Pulmonary Embolism is a risk divers face when ascending to the surface too rapidly. Increased pressure within an undersea environment can result in a divers gas becoming dense as it is crammed into one place under severe pressure. This same gas within the body’s lungs will also expand at the same rate that the pressure on the body is reduced. Thus, a rapid ascent can potentially cause the lungs to blow up and even pop, just like a balloon. In order for scuba divers to guard themselves against pulmonary embolism they must take their ascent slowly and controlled making sure to never hold their breath.
#2 Sea Life
Scuba divers should always remember that when they enter the ocean, they are entering an untamed underwater wilderness. While attacks on divers are pretty rare, accidents do occur and a diver should always be on guard as he or she is surrounded by wild animals. For instance, Steve Irwin, the famous ‘Crocodile Hunter’, was killed in 2006 by a stingray that stung him in the heart. Stingrays are usually harmless creatures but will strike when provoked. Divers should remember the tried and true saying of ‘touch nothing, take nothing, and leave only bubbles’.
#1 Defective Equipment
It is common for a scuba diver to not exclusively own their equipment as many divers rent depending on their location and trip style. Renting gear can lead to utilizing defective equipment which can be extremely dangerous. A depth gage malfunction can lead to decompression sickness while a broken regulator can lead to death by drowning. When renting equipment divers should double check the working capacity of their gear prior to use. Do not be scared to ask for a new piece of equipment if you suspect troubles with your current rental gear. It is better to be safe than sorry.