Safely ascend to the surface after a dive
Reason to Learn
Every dive will end with the need to ascend to the surface and it's important to make sure that every ascent is a safe ascent.
- Signal to your buddy and agree to end the dive.
- Ascend to 15 feet (5 meters) at a rate not exceeding 30 feet/9 meters a minute (some dive societies suggest 60 feet/18 meters a minute but I've chosen the more conservative rate for increased safety). Use your depth gauge to make sure you're not ascending faster than this rate.
- At a depth of 15 feet (5 meters) perform a safety stop. If you're diving in an environment with surface hazards such as speed boats or jet skis you may want to launch a surface marker buoy. This may also be standard practice to make it clear to the dive boat where the divers will surface.
- At the conclusion of the safety stop signal your buddy and agree to surface.
- Extend your deflator above your head and be prepared to release air from your BCD as you ascend.
Note: Some dive societies advise extending the free arm over the head for safety while others advocate using this hand to hold your depth gauge - both are good ideas and you should choose whichever you consider a better option.
- Look up and slowly kick to move up in the water. Vent air from your BCD as needed in order to ascend at a rate no greater than 30 feet / 9 meters a minute.
- Rotate in the water as you ascend so you can be aware of all parts of the surface above you. Listen for the sound of approaching boats or other potential hazards.
- When you reach the surface, inflate your BCD and establish positive buoyancy.
- Signal the boat or shore that you are OK.
- It is very important to ascend at a rate no greater than 30 feet / 9 meters a minute. Use your depth gauge and watch or computer to monitor this. In the event of an equipment failure you can use your bubbles as a rough guide to your ascent speed - the theory being that you should ascend no faster than your slowest bubbles - but remember, this is a last resort and shouldn't be used instead of a depth gauge.
- Look up and rotate as you ascend to be fully aware of any potential surface hazards.
What You Need
- A full set of scuba gear