Scuba diving is a sport in which you can lose yourself to the beauty of the underwater world and escape gravity for a short time. You can wander among kelp forests or swim with sleek noble sharks. You can find a fortune in Spanish ducats or lose yourself in the beauty of the underwater realm. Some may say though that diving is an extreme sport and that it is too risky for anyone, it’s just for the wild hooligans. Scuba Diving is a safe and enjoyable hobby despite the small risk involved. Haven’t you ever wondered what it was like to swim with the fish? Or see why all of those people would want to were all that funny looking gear and go under the water?
The going below the water is little like being above the water. While underwater there are forces and laws that dictate how your body will respond to being under so much pressure. The first rule regarding the pressure water puts on the air spaces in your body is Boyles Law. It says that as the pressure increases on a given mass of gas the volume will decrease. This rule explains the popping sensation you fell when you go up in an air plane and the squeeze you feel as you go under water. Another law is Dalton’s law of partial Pressure. It says that pressure of mixed gasses is equal to the pressure exerted by the individual gas. So if a mixture of gas is say 5% carbon dioxide then it would account for 5% of the total pressure of the gas, because of this law the concentration of harmful gasses must be less when you are under water otherwise you can be poisoned or experience the effects of the gas that would only occur at a higher concentration at sea level. And the last major law that governs you while underwater is Henry’s law. It simply states that you can dissolve more of a gas into a liquid at higher pressure and the opposite when you release some of the pressure. It is like when you open a bottle of pop, the gas and pop are pressurized to carbonate it and when, you open the bottle bubble’s form, because the pressure isn’t great enough to hold it in.
The first thing to consider when weighing the risk of Scuba diving is how good the instruction that you need to is become certified to dive.
There are several major certification courses and most are recognized worldwide. The following is An overview of the kind of training you will receive through the PADI Scuba diving certification course, most all diving certification courses are similar in content and requirements for certification. The first you learn is how to use and wear Scuba equipment. Some of the other skills are that you should never hold your breath, how to operate the Scuba equipment, and proper technique for entering the water all of these basic skills and several other will be taught to the students by an instructor who has been trained to teach the skills effectively and to determine whether you are competent to Scuba dive. As you progress through the class you are taught in a classroom setting for about half of the time and then the other half of the time is spent in a swimming pool where the students can master the necessary skills for diving without having the pressure and risk of being in the open water.
Near the end of the class the students begin to dive in the open water with the instructor so that they become acclimated to being underwater in conditions that are not as secure as say a swimming pool. With the instructor alongside the student the student’s fears are quelled and the student is safer, because if anything were to go wrong the instructor would be right there to remedy the problem or to assist the student to the surface. During the open water dives the student demonstrates to the instructor that they can handle the conditions and that the can perform the skills that they have been taught. Some of the skills that would have been mastered at this point are. How to breathe from a buddy’s spare regulator, in the unlikely event that you should run out of air and how to help your buddy if they run out of air. How to clear water out of a flooded face mask. Then show that how to disassemble and maintain the Scuba Equipment you use. Most importantly you get time to look around and enjoy a realm that most people have never before seen, and while you are underwater you can see it up close and personal. Even though the training to get certified as a Scuba diver is very thorough there are a few risks that even the most seasoned diver runs into. Some of the problems include decompression sickness, stress, the squeeze, and the uncontrollable elements. The most common problem for most divers is a pain in their ear, sinuses, or teeth. This phenomenon is known as the squeeze, and it occurs as a result of the increased pressure of the water pushing in on the tissue in air filled cavity such as the middle ear and sinuses. This affect is caused Boyles law or that as the pressure increases the volume decreases, so the lower volume pull at the soft tissue causing pain. The pain caused by the squeeze can often be excruciating, but it can easily be remedied by equalizing the pressure in those airspaces. Equalizing can be done in several ways. The first is closing your mouth while plugging your nose and then gently blowing out. Another technique is that of closing your nose and then swallowing or you can do it is by pushing your jaw forward and then yawning or swallowing. These work well but to avoid the intense pain of getting the squeeze it is not recommended that you dive while you have a cold or your sinuses blocked. One other type of the squeeze is one that occurs when there is an air space under a tooth, although this form is very rare to get when you do get it causes mind numbing pain that can last until you can get to the dentist and have the pressure relieved.
One of the biggest causes of death while Scuba diving is something that could well be avoided, its name is stress. In the years between 1976 and 1988 nine-teen percent of the deaths were directly linked to stress and panic. Most inexperienced divers can become panicked, because they do not recognize the symptoms of stress before they culminate into full blown panic (“High Anxiety”). Stress comes in two major forms one being physical stress and the other psychological stress. Physical stress isn’t a tough one to detect; it is simply when you are exerting yourself at a higher level, when you are in harsh conditions such as being in cold water, being sick, or any number of things that affect you physically. Psychological stress on the other hand is not so easy to detect. It has more subtle ways of sowing itself and can be caused by things that are real ore that you have made up in your mind, such as thinking that the weed touching your leg is actually the boggy monster trying to pull you down in to the menacing depths of the water. Some contributing factors to stress can be beliefs that a person holds or attitudes that they have. No matter what the cause of the stress it can lead you to a state in which your mental acuity and concentration are diminished. This can be a deadly situation to be in if and when an emergency arises. Stress can also lead to one of the major underwater killers a panic attack. Panic can be triggered by anything and a person’s stress level is directly related to the likely hood that a person would panic. When someone panics the begin to fixate on specific things and stop thinking rationally, the person often reverts back to their primal survival skills and abandons their good sense and training that could save their life.
Although stress is one of the diver’s worst enemies it doesn’t have to cause accidents. There are ways to detect stress, and when you know you are under stress you have all the more power over yourself. You can avoid stress and stressful situations, believe it or not, and some of the ways this can be achieved is by diving within your experience level, keep your training up to date, avoid situations you are unprepared for or cannot handle, and lastly if it doesn’t feel right don’t do it.
Following those guidelines will keep you out of trouble, but if you do feel yourself slipping into a panic situation STOP! And breath thinks about what you are doing, and then act (“High Anxiety”). With those tips most people should never have a problem with panic.
Another problem that can affect anyone who dives is Decompression Sickness or the bends. Decompression sickness is when the nitrogen in your blood forms little bubbles, because the pressure you were under is no longer strong enough to keep the nitrogen in your blood. Even though anyone can get decompression sickness, very few people do if they follow the tables that tell you how deep you can go and for how long.
Decompression sickness can also be brought on by flying too soon after diving. Some of the signs of DCS (decompression sickness) are a blotchy skin rash, favoring an arm or a leg, collapse, staggering, and unconsciousness. There are also symptoms you could look for in yourself such as dizziness, unusual fatigue, pain in the arms legs or trunk of the body, and shortness of breath. There are several factors that can greatly increase your susceptibility to DCS. One being anything that impairs your bodies’ circulation of blood such as age, injuries or illness, dehydration, and alcohol. This occurs because less circulation means you body isn’t as effective at taking the extra nitrogen you absorb while diving out of your blood stream. Another contributing factor is the amount of fat you have in your body, because the fat cells are what the nitrogen dissolves in. So, more fat means more nitrogen in your body which in turn means more chance to get DCS.
Two other common risks while diving are dehydration and overexertion. Dehydration can occur more quickly while underwater, because you breathe very dry air from the Scuba tank and your body makes more urine, as a result of the pressure. If you haven’t had enough water to drink you may become dehydrated and then be more susceptible to decompression sickness and you will have more stress on your body (“The Dangers”). Overexertion is another harmful thing while you are underwater, because you become tired, stressed, and breathing can become labored. Those symptoms can culminate into a panic which is the last thing you want to occur underwater.
Nitrogen narcosis is also a danger while diving, but is not usually felt by begging divers, because it only starts affecting you at about one hundred feet. Nitrogen narcosis is also known as rapture of the depths, getting narked, and the martini affect. The last example explains the affects nitrogen narcosis has one you. It says that diving to one hundred feet is like having one martini and every thirty or so feet after that is like having another martini. Nitrogen narcosis is also like drinking in that each person is affected differently.
While diving you are bound to see many fish and animals, and who wouldn’t want to see them that is one of the biggest draws of diving. Although the creatures you meet may look beautiful doesn’t mean that they won’t hurt you if you touch them or attack if provoked. With few exceptions all the animals that you meet underwater would rather not even go close to you, but if you do make the creatures feel like they are being attack they will usually fight back with painful and even deadly consequences.
With the entire mystic surrounding the sport of scuba diving many people would never dream about taking a class to get certified, and those people don’t know what they are missing. Those people that would never consider diving most likely have only seen the dangers and risks of diving, but they have never really looked into the safety precaution and quality of the instruction needed to go diving. I hope that anyone who had previously decided against Scuba diving reconsider their choice, because they are missing out on some awe inspiring views and spectacular adventures. If you do nothing else in your lifetime at least take an introductory class to Scuba diving. It may just show you how safe and enjoyable the sport actually is.