To become good at diving, professional training is required before venturing into the water. While this is a known fact, there is more to it, especially when it comes to safety.
It is important to bear in mind that the sport’s safety aspect cannot be overemphasized, considering how dangerous water sports can get. A safety stop is one of those safety rules recommended after each dive for taking deeper dives.
Keep reading to discover why you need a safety stop while diving and other details on how the safety stop works, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about safety stops.
Why You Need a Safety Stop While Diving
What is a Safety Stop in Diving?
An integral part of any dive is the term “safety stop.” It is one of the first skills that a diver is introduced to during open water training dives. What exactly does it mean, and why is it an essential factor in diving? You are about to find out.
A safety stop is an activity that takes place the moment a scuba diver is about to surface.
After completing a dive, the diver ascends to 5 meters and remains there for 3 minutes. This stop helps the diver eliminate any excess nitrogen that may have been trapped in their body during the dive, reducing the diver’s chances of decompression sickness.
What is Decompression Sickness?
Diving does not give free air access, and divers depend on compressed air while underwater. While taking breaths of the compressed air underwater, nitrogen gets into the blood and is accumulated there.
As the dive proceeds, the tissues gradually absorb the nitrogen, and while ascending, the decreasing pressure of air on the tissue will cause the nitrogen to be dispersed.
Ascending too fast will cause the pressure to reduce quickly, making the nitrogen wash off rapidly.
Therefore, there will be a massive difference in the pressure which will cause nitrogen bubbles to be formed in the blood vessels and tissues.
These nitrogen bubbles that have been trapped are the causes of Decompression Sickness.
Performing a Safety Stop
Doing the safety stop is not as complicated as a lot of people think. It is simply stopping on the way to the top and maintaining the position at about 5 meters or 15 feet for 3 minutes.
If it seems complicated to maintain the level, then a bottom line or an anchor can be held on to. It is advised to stay at about 6 meters or 19 feet without a line instead of the recommended 5 meters or 15 feet.
This is because the pressure in the lower depth changes greatly. It is imperative for divers to always check the dive computer or depth gauge to ensure that they are at the right depth and do not accidentally ascend to the surface.
While it is possible to completely miss the safety stop in shallow water or shorter dives, it is recommended for all dives. By doing so, snorkelers and divers get used to observing the basic safety rules.
However, you cannot miss a safety stop for dives that go as deep as 30 meters or 100 feet. While diving at such depth, it is necessary to be alert if you need to make an emergency safety stop if the situation requires it.
Divers must also always bear in mind that when doing a safety stop, maintaining a good buoyancy for the whole period of the stop is important as this will help ensure that there are no depth changes. After completing the safety stop, divers have to maintain a slow speed while rising to the surface.
A speed of 18 meters or 60 feet per minute is recommended while ascending. The safety stop can be referred to as a decompression stop where a monitored off-gassing occurs, making the diver comfortable.
Why is it Important to Complete a Safety Stop?
There are several reasons why it is imperative to complete a safety stop. Here are some of them:
A safety stop allows for the conservatism of a dive action by giving some time for the release of absorbed nitrogen from the diver’s body.
A diver who is almost at a no-decompression limit needs to spare some minutes to release nitrogen because that might be the difference between the dive and a wave of decompression sickness.
A safety stop also gives the diver room to adjust his buoyancy before coming up. In scuba diving, the point where the greatest change occurs is close to the surface, and a safety stop helps the diver fine-tune his balance as he closes up his dive.
A safety stop allows a brief period of a break while divers are ascending, and this will give them time to check their dive statistics on your watch and plan to make sure they have adhered to the given dive parameters.
A safety stop allows the diver to check the surface carefully for dangers or traffic before coming out.
Dangers of Skipping the Safety Stop
It is essential to always include a safety stop in your dive plan and dive within the set limits. When these are followed, but for some reason, a diver still misses a safety stop, it is advised to end the dives for the day and check for decompression sickness symptoms on your watch.
The safety stop serves as a margin that helps to avoid decompression sickness in divers. The few minutes help to reduce the chance of having decompression sickness significantly.
However, in a situation where a diver rushes to the surface probably because of insufficient air or danger, it is vital to locate specialists to ensure a full recovery immediately.
A safety stop is one fundamental rule that every diver must know and obey to ensure safety. Safety stops are to be imbibed in divers from the beginning to get them accustomed to it.