How Likely Are You to Die Scuba Diving?:
The Risks of Scuba Diving in Comparison With Other Activities:
• 1 out of every 5,555 of registered drivers in the US died in car accidents in 2008 (www.cenus.gov).Statistically, diving is safer than driving, having a kid, skydiving, or running a marathon. Of course, this is a generalization. All the dates are from different years, and I am writing about diving fatalities, not injuries. My goal is simply to lend some perspective to the diving statistic. When we consider why divers die, we discover that for a responsible diver who seeks training and dives within his limits, the risks of diving are even lower.
• 1 out of every 7692 pregnant women died from pregnancy complications in 2004 (National Center for Health Statistics).
• 1 out of every 116,666 skydives ended in a fatality in 2000 (United States Parachuting Association).
• 1 out of every 126,626 marathon runners died of sudden cardiac arrest while running a marathon between 1975-2003 (National Safety Council)
What Are the Most Common Factors Contributing to Diver Fatalities?:
The top three root causes leading to diver fatalities (DAN Diving Fatalities Workshop Report) are:
1. Pre-existing disease or pathology in the diverAll three of these are completely avoidable. In fact, if a diver respects the safe diving practices taught during scuba diver training, none of these factors should be a problem. For example:
2. Poor buoyancy control
3. Rapid ascent/ violent water movement
Before beginning dive training, prospective scuba divers are given a scuba diving medical questionnaire, which, if answered truthfully, should bring up any medical problems that could predispose a diver to injury or death, such as lung diseases or heart issues. Of course, some divers do lie on these medical release forms and ignore the warning not to dive with contraindicated conditions. Furthermore, a diver may develop a medical condition that is contraindicated for diving after certification. Review the scuba diving medical questionnaire periodically and take it seriously, even after becoming a certified diver.
Poor buoyancy control is an issue with many divers. Who to blame for this issue is debatable - the divers who have poor buoyancy control or the instructors who certified them. In either case plenty of certified divers no longer (or never did) understand how a buoyancy compensator (BC) works or how pressure changes on descent and ascent affect buoyancy. If this subject is unclear, or if a diver simply hasn't developed the physical ability to control his buoyancy properly, he needs practice and a scuba diving refresher course before attempting to dive again.
Learm more about risks of diving and how to minimize them:
Rapid ascents are frequently due to poor buoyancy control. In some cases, divers simply panic and rocket to the surface. This is simply unacceptable. If water in a diver's mask makes him panic, he should practice flooding and clearing his mask in a pool until it becomes routine. If a buddy constantly strays so far that he is impossible to alert in an out-of-air emergency, get a new buddy. A diver who checks his pressure gauge and surfaces with a reasonable reserve of air in his tank is unlikely to run out of air. If the water is so rough that water movement is going to be an issue, don't dive or end a dive the moment the difficult current/surge/chop is experienced.
DAN's report goes on to explain that some of the leading contributing factors to diver fatalities are buddy separation and inadequate training for the dive being attempted. Both of these are violations of the standard safe diving guidelines.