It is certainly a privilege to be able to fulfil a career in deep sea diving – having the ability to explore the oceans deepest and darkest secrets is an experience not everyone has. The same goes for those seeking to push their limits by adventuring down to the depths below for recreation. Certainly a fascinating place, given we know more about the surface of the moon, Venus and Mars than we do our own oceans, if you have a bucket list of places you want to explore or are interested in pursuing a career as a saturation diver, then it’s worth noting that they come with innate dangers.
Although diving has its fun and thrill-seeking perks, sometimes the dangers of doing so can be overlooked. Those who plunge the Earth’s perilous waters must respect the rules put in place to save lives besides making sure your diving equipment and piston rings are airtight. Here, we’ll discuss the top rules to safely deep-sea dive, including knowing your limits, practising safe ascents and looking after your teeth.
1. Be aware of your nitrogen bubbles
If you don’t give your body time to adjust to the fluctuating pressures above or below the water, this can cause injury to your body. Slowly ascending is as important as breathing constantly – if you ascend too early, the nitrogen in your body from the deep sea won’t have time to exit the body through the lungs and will expand at such a rate that would subsequently lead to a range of dangerous problems.
Places in your body such as the lungs, ears, sinuses and dental roots can become damaged if Barotrauma occurs. This is when tissue in these parts of your body fill with air pockets and cause them to rupture or suffer too much pressure to handle, leading to breathing difficulties. As you ascend, water pressure decreases and vice versa – when ascending, follow the bubbles you breathe out. Don’t ascend faster than your bubbles or things will get sticky.
Nerve and tissue damage can be caused when premature ascension occurs, and the pressure change fluctuates too quickly, ultimately leading to decommissioning sickness and nitrogen bubbles to form in your body that can cause paralysis.
When too much nitrogen builds up in the brain, it is called nitrogen narcosis and can lead to you feeling similar to how you do after alcohol consumption – rather delirious. Due to this, bad decisions can be made. For example, you could end up removing your regulator because you think you can breathe underwater or end up being unable to read your gauges and instruments.
Maintaining a steady ascending pace of 30 feet per minute is advised in order to drop safely and slowly into the ocean’s depth.
2. Don’t test your limits
When proceeding on a diving adventure, it is easy to forget the most simplistic of rules. The most important thing to remember is that diving should be fun, not competitive. Dive within your limits. If you think that you might feel uncomfortable or if the conditions don’t seem safe, don’t be scared to cancel or rearrange at a different site or day. Never attempt something that you know you’re not mentally or physically prepared for because this puts you at risk before you’ve even started.
For those wanting to pursue a saturation diving career, other than ensuring your piston seals are of sufficient use, assess your claustrophobia limits. You’ll be kept in an underwater compression chamber for roughly a month, where you won’t be heading back up to the surface until your time is up. Don’t overestimate your abilities because you could end up in a really uncomfortable situation!
3. Teeth trauma when diving
The thought of your crowns and fillings having the ability to blow out of your gums is a rather scary thought, however it is true. Saturation diver David Beckett commented: “After a couple of hours of being in the chamber, one of my fillings blew off. Thankfully for me, when it blew off there was no pain, just a hole left where the filling used to sit.
“Others aren’t so lucky. I’ve seen one guy have a crown blow off, taking part of the tooth and gum with it. Painful stuff to have to endure for the next three days.”
Whilst most worry about sharks and barracudas, a study found that 41 percent of divers experienced feelings of intense toothache whilst diving due to the fluctuations in water pressure causing air pockets to build up in their roots. This is often made worse by divers who are inexperienced and clench their teeth or if they have underlying dental conditions, cavities, fractures or poor fillings.
Make sure you’re as safe as possible when diving. There is plenty to see, but also plenty to be cautious of.