How To Prevent Decompression Sickness

Decompression sickness. Every diver learns about it, every diver fears it (to some extent), but every diver is able to prevent it. Sometimes referred to as DCS and/or "the bends,"  it's the one thing (besides running out of air) that prevents us from staying underwater for as long as we want. If you just follow these simple rules of scuba diving, the chances of getting decompression sickness are greatly reduced.

Best ways to prevent Decompression Sickness during every dive

Plan your dive, dive your plan

Sound familiar?  Many diving professionals use this phrase because it works.  When you plan your dive you've researched the dive site, decided exactly how deep you want to go and for how long, and have planned with the goal in mind of NOT going into decompression.  But the second step to this is to actually stick to your dive plan, even when you want to chase that really cool turtle down into the depths of the sea.

Use a dive computer

Dive computers were invented for a reason.  They are the most accurate account of your dive and calculate your decompression times based on you and you alone.  Dive computers calculate everything for you so you can say goodbye to human error, PLUS they track your exact ascent rate, helping you to ascend as safely as possible.

NEVER skip your Safety Stop!

Even if your dive was only to 25 feet for 20 minutes, you should never, ever skip your safety stop.  The safety stop is named appropriately so that you can stay safe by allowing your body a little extra time to off-gas before surfacing from your dive. Always monitor your air supply closely so that you have enough remaining at the end of your dive to complete your safety stop.

Stay hydrated!

Research shows that dehydration actually increases your susceptibility to DCS.  This can be particularity dangerous when traveling on a dive vacation.  You have many things working against you as most people become dehydrated while flying due to the dry cabin air (strike one), you step off the plane into air that is hot and humid (strike two), arrive at a destination where you can't drink the local water (strike three), and then top off the day with a couple of cold ones at the hotel bar before you head off to dive the next morning (strike four).  You can see how easy it is to start your dive trip already dehydrated!

Follow all flying after diving rules

If you're an avid diver we know you're trying to squeeze in as much diving as possible on your dive trips but please, please, please follow the flying after diving rules!! It could save your life.  If you've only done one dive you're free to fly 12 hours post dive, but if you're diving for days on end, the industry standard is to wait at least 18 hours before hopping on that plane home.  If you use a dive computer, it is going to give you the most accurate countdown to being able to fly based on your personal dive history, so we recommend you follow that.

No matter where in the world you dive, staying safe is just a matter of following the rules and staying within safe diving limits.  If you follow all of our suggestions here, the probability of you becoming bent during a dive is very slim.  So stay safe and dive on!

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