Safety Stop: Why Do I Need To Do It?

Safety Stop: Why Do I Need To Do It?
Ingvars Birznieks

We generally see scuba diving as a fun sports activity that we are simply passionate about.

To become a good scuba diver we need to receive professional training and then get into the water. That is true, but that is not all. We need to always remember a few important aspects of diving, and we can never afford to forget the safety rules while indulging in this fun sport. A safety stop is something we need to be serious about. It is recommended at the end of each dive and mandatory for deeper dives. Let us look at this safety rule in detail and understand it so that we can be tension free.

Decompression Sickness

We know while diving that we do not have access to free air and have to depend on compressed air. While breathing the compressed air underwater, nitrogen gets accumulated in our blood. The nitrogen then gradually gets absorbed into the tissues as the dive continues. As we start to ascend, nitrogen starts getting dispersed from the tissues as a result of decreasing the pressure of air on the tissue. However, ascending too fast will reduce the pressure very rapidly and nitrogen will try to get washed quickly. Therefore, there will be a greater pressure differential which will cause nitrogen bubble formation in the tissues and blood vessels. These nitrogen bubbles trapped in our body will result in Decompression Sickness.

Without a safety stop, divers put themselves at risk of getting decompression sickness – Credit: Shalunts
Without a safety stop, divers put themselves at risk of getting decompression sickness – Credit: Shalunts

The Stop

Doing a safety stop is not tough. You simply have to stop on the way up to the surface and stay at around 5 meters/15 feet for 3 minutes. If you find it difficult to maintain the same level, then use an anchor- or bottom line to hold on to. If you do not have a line, you might find it easier to stay at 6 meters/19 feet rather then 4-5 meters/ 15 feet. This is due to the larger changes in the pressure at the lower depth. Remember to watch your depth gauge or dive computer to make sure you stay at the right depth and do not accidentally pop up to the surface. Know the First Dive Equipment You Need To Purchase

A safety stop is easy to do
A safety stop is easy to do
Photo by: Annetje

When to do a Safety Stop

Although in shorter dives in shallow water we may miss the safety stop, it is highly recommended for all dives. In that way, we become accustomed to this simple safety rule. However, when we go deeper, like 30 meters/100 feet or more, we can not give it a miss. While engaging in this kind of diving, we may need to be ready for an emergency safety stop depending on the situation. Remember when you are doing a safety stop, it is important to maintain good buoyancy for the entire span of the stop to avoid depth changes.

A dive group trying to maintain good buoyancy on their safety stop
A dive group trying to maintain good buoyancy on their safety stop
Photo by: Rostislav Ageev

After you have completed the safety stop, you still need to rise slowly to the surface. While ascending, always maintain a speed of no more than 18 meters/60 feet per minute. In any case, for deep dives, we cannot avoid safety stops. The safety stop is rather a decompression stop which allows a more controlled off-gassing and helps immensely in avoiding any discomfort. It keeps our dive as pleasant as desired by us. By now we should all understand the extreme importance of performing a safety stop. Right? Therefore, remember to include this important act in your every dive and stay safe.

Do you always do a Safety Stop? What keeps you doing them on every dive? or What could make you skip the safety Stop?

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