The Dangers and Risks of Scuba Diving
We always tell our students that scuba diving is like driving a car. If the driver exceeded the speed limit, he/she will put their life in danger. The same applies to scuba diving; if the diver breaks the rules, he/she will face serious consequences.
Scuba diving hobby is like any other hobby. It has its own rules and laws that must not be broken in order to prevent any risks. The most prominent risks are known among the diving community as “diving illnesses”. These illnesses are:
Deep-sea divers use oxygen tanks to help them breath underwater. These tanks usually contain a mix of oxygen, nitrogen, and other gasses. Once divers dive deeper than 22 m, the increased pressure can alter these gasses. When inhaled, the altered gasses can produce unusual symptoms that often make a person appear to be drunk. While nitrogen narcosis is a temporary condition, it can have serious health consequences. Its main issues is that the deep-sea divers do not realize that they are in danger when they experience them.
Although we continuously dive deeper than 22 m, we do not experience this illness. Divers experience it in very specific cases and under certain circumstances, and it is not unexpected or surprising.
When can you develop Nitrogen Narcosis?
You have a higher risk of developing nitrogen narcosis if you: have unstable or unusual health conditions, are overweight, suffer from disorders of the circulatory system, drink alcohol, use drugs, have anxiety, or are fatigued. Ladies can develop it during their menstrual cycle.
Postpone your dive if you were not feeling well.
Nitrogen Narcosis Treatment:
The diver should ascend from the depth at which the symptoms become apparent.
- Decompression Illness (DCI)
DCI refers to the illness that results from a reduction in the ambient pressure surrounding a body. It encompasses:
Arterial Gas Embolism (AGE) occurs when scuba diving as a result of lung over-expansion injury. It is the most serious injury.
Decompression Sickness (DCS) occurs in scuba divers when dissolved gases (mainly nitrogen) come out of solution in bubbles. It can affect different parts of our bodies depending on where these bubbles are formed.
We usually take extra oxygen and nitrogen when we scuba dive. Our bodies use the oxygen, but the nitrogen is dissolved into our blood, where it remains during the dive. The nitrogen will not have time to clear from our blood if we swim back too quickly towards the surface after a deep dive. These nitrogen bubbles are what cause decompression sickness.
In order to avoid experiencing this sickness, divers should always consider the ascent rate, depth and time. They can take control of that by being trained, practicing and planning their dives.
You have a higher risk of experiencing DCS if you: suffer from dehydration, feel cold, smoke before your dive, are overweight, are fatigued, drink alcohol, use drugs or maybe are getting older.
Symptoms of DCS
The symptoms of DCS can occur during your dive or within 24 hours after diving, but the sooner symptoms start, the more likely it is that severe DCS will develop. The symptoms differ depending on the type of the injury and the affected area of the body.
Joint pain – this is the most common symptom due to bubbles typically forming in and around shoulders and elbows.
Neurological bends – the most common area affected in divers is the spinal cord. Symptoms classically include: weak or numb extremities, fatigue, headache, loss or limited vision, decreased awareness and changes in personality and in the mental and emotional functions.
Skin bends – occurs most commonly on the torso. It is a sign of a serious decompression sickness.
The distribution of symptoms of DCS
local joint pain
shortness of breath
To minimize the risk of decompression sickness while diving: plan your dive very well, learn how to use decompression tables, dive computers, and your skills before you go scuba diving, and do not forget to assess currents and diving conditions.
- Use a high-pressure oxygen chamber in which the patient receives 100% oxygen.
- Seek immediate medical help.
- The sooner the patient receives the medical help, the less serious the risks become.
- Don’t try to repressurise the patient under the water.
- Tell the doctor that the injury is caused from scuba diving.
عندما يتغير الضغط خلال الصعود, تتمدد الرئتين, اذا قرر الغواص التوقف عن التنفس خلال الصعود, قد تتمزق الرئتين او حتى تنفجر! تماما ً لو تذكرون في دورات الغوص مثال البالون لو نفخنا بالون بالهواء وانزلنا الى عمق سيتقلص حجم البالون نظرا ً لانضغاط الغاز بداخله وبالعكس اثناء الصعود سينفجر بسبب تمدد الغاز كذلك الرئة اثناء النزول يتقلص حجمها مما يسبب تسارع بالتنفس او ما نعرفه باستهلاك كميات اكبر من الهواء كلما ازداد العمق واثناء الصعود يتمدد الهواء ويجب ان يخرج بانتظام اثناء تمدده فيجب على الغواص الصعود ببطئ وعدم التوقف عن التنفس بانتظام لان كتم النفس سيؤدي الى انفجار الرئة بسبب تمدد الهواء بداخلها مما يؤدي الى تلف الحويصلات الهوائية وخروج الهواء من الرئة وقد تصل خطورة الاصابة الى اختلاط الهواء بمجرى الدم او تظهر انتفاخات في العنق والصدر تكون ظاهرة وتستوجب اسعاف مباشر للمصاب
ويختلف الضرر من شخص الى اخر حسب سرعة الصعود الصعود والعمق وكتمه للنفس , فقد يكون الضرر بسيط جدا يتمثل في الام في الصدر, وقد يكون الضرر كبيرا مما يسبب السعال وخروج الدم او حتى يؤدي الى الموت .
ان تشخيص هذه الحلات يحتاج الى غواصين بمستوى متقدم في موقع الغوص ويجب على الفور الاتصال بالإسعاف ونقل المصاب الى اقرب وحدة عناية طبية واجراء العلاج اللازم له كما تعتبر اصابات تمزق الرئة من اخطر الاصابات التي يتعرض لها الغواصين وكثير ما يتعرض الغواصين المبتدئين لدرجات خفيفة من تمزق الرئة نظرا ً لعدم تحكمهم في كتم النفس وذلك بسبب عدم تركيزهم في الغوصات الأولى لذلك على المدربين الانتباه باستمرار على اداء الطالب في التنفس في الغوصات التدريبية الاولى والتوجيه دائما ً الى عدم كتم النفس والصعود السريع
Scuba Diving External Dangers and Risks:
In addition to the physical illnesses that the diver may experience due to negligence, he/she is exposed to external dangers and risks when scuba diving. Divers must avoid acting carelessly to prevent harm to themselves. They must also learn how to deal with dangers and risk when diving. The two main risks are the marine life and equipment failure.
It is very important to perform regular maintenance of the equipment and test them before each dive. The last thing you want when you are at 30m depth is the failure of your respirator or your BCD. You have to end your dive even if what was broken is a small thing like your mask because that can put your life in danger. Divers should therefore perform regular maintenance of their equipment to ensure their safety.
Just like in the woods, the ocean is a place full of surprises. The diver has to be careful when dealing with the marine life. We are guests in this environment, and the hosts must be respected. Generally, marine creatures are not aggressive. They get defensive only when they are feeling that they in danger.
Do not believe how films present marine creatures. These creatures do not think of human beings as their main meal or favourite dish. Those wonderful and breath-taking sharks, manta rays, dolphins, coral reefs and all other marine creatures try to protect themselves when they are being attacked or harassed only.
There are many types of fire corals and stinging coals that you need to familiarise yourself with when planning your dive. Do not try to approach, touch, take or move any of them. Keep calm and be quiet!
Besides the marine life, the diver can be injured by rocks and coral reefs. The pain and bleeding cuts and wounds will therefore force the divers to not make the most of their dive. Divers can avoid that by improving their buoyancy control skill and also by buying good quality scuba diving gear including gloves, suit and boots. And just like that, you can avoid rocks and coral reefs injuries.
Moreover, respect the underwater life and do not try to feed the creatures or harm them. Avoid harming the marine life, including human waste that has become part of that environment.
In the event of injury, get the diver out of the water immediately taking into account the necessary safety measures. And then take him/her to the nearest health care centre.