The Dangers of Ascending Too Rapidly During an Open-Water Dive
The Dangers of Ascending Too
Rapidly During an Open-Water Dive
By Michael Schamis
• Michael Schamis spent four years as an open-water
scuba instructor with Empire Divers in New York City.
Michael Schamis has held his Professional Association of
Diving Instructors (PADI) instructor certification since
age 18, the youngest age at which a person can do so.
One of the major steps candidates must take toward
gaining certification from the PADI is making their first
open-water dive. As the name implies, an open-water
dive takes place in the middle of the ocean rather than a
pool or a sheltered cove next to the shore. All of the
dangers associated with scuba diving become amplified
during an open-water dive, requiring all divers to
practice extreme caution.
• One of the leading causes of injury and fatality
among divers is ascending from a dive too rapidly.
Divers are trained to ascend no faster than their air
bubbles and to stop at certain levels for a period of
time in order for nitrogen to be cleared from their
bloodstreams. Anxiety due to mask flooding or
rough water conditions can influence a diver to head
for the surface quicker than normal, potentially
resulting in a serious injury or illness from nitrogen
bubbles expanding in their tissues and joints, a
condition known as “the bends.”
• Fortunately, divers can easily train to avoid
panicking. They can repeatedly practice flooding
and clearing their masks in a pool or shallow water
so that dealing with the issue becomes routine. As
for rough-water conditions, divers should check
weather and water forecasts frequently both in
preparation for and during an open-water dive, and
they should avoid getting into the water if conditions
are unsafe. Should violent water conditions begin
suddenly, all members of the dive party should
immediately get out of the water.