The 6 Best Ways to Prevent Decompression Sickness

Every diver learns about decompression sickness (often referred to as DCS or "the bends"). Besides running out of air, it is the one thing that prevents divers from staying underwater for as long as they want. But there are things you can do to prevent or reduce your susceptibility to decompression sickness. Following these simple scuba diving rules can significantly reduce your chances of "getting bent" so you can make the most of every dive.

How to Prevent Decompression Sickness During Every Dive:

1. Plan your dive, dive your plan.

Sound familiar? Many diving professionals use this phrase because it works. Before diving, most divers plan out their dive by researching the dive site or destination.

They decide how deep they plan on going and for how long, all with the goal in mind of not going into decompression (at least for recreational diving).

This planning is great in theory. However, issues may arise if you do not stick to your plan. So, no matter how cool that drop-off looks or how deep you want to chase that sea turtle, always stick to your dive plan.

2. NEVER skip your safety stop!

This is a big one! Even if your dive was only to 25 feet (7 meters) for 20 minutes, you should never, ever skip your safety stop.

The safety stop increases your dive safety by allowing nitrogen gas accumulated in your body a little extra time to off-gas before you surface from your dive.

Make sure you closely monitor your air supply throughout the dive to ensure enough is remaining at the end of your dive to complete a safety stop.

3. Use a dive computer.

Dive computers are one of the greatest tools to increase diver safety. Your dive computer is the most accurateaccount of your dive and calculates your decompression times based on you and you alone.

Dive computers calculate everything for you, giving you accurate dive time, depth, no-decompression time, and even air time remaining with air integrated models.

One of their most significant safety features is the ascent rate monitor, helping you ascend as slowly and safely as possible.


4. Stay hydrated!

Research shows that dehydration increases your susceptibility to decompression sickness, which can be particularly dangerous when traveling on a dive vacation.

When traveling, many things are working against you. Most people become dehydrated while flying, thanks to the dry cabin air. Then, if your destination is tropical, you start sweating as soon as you step off the plane into hot, humid air.

Arriving at a destination where you cannot drink the local water is another factor, as you now have to acquire bottled water before you can have any.

To top it off, most divers like to have a drink at the hotel bar before turning in for the night, which, most know, is dehydrating if you are drinking an alcoholic beverage.

And this is all before you even start diving! You can see how easy it is to begin a dive trip already dehydrated.

5. Follow all flying after diving rules.

If you are an avid diver, we know you are trying to squeeze in as much diving as possible on your dive vacation, but please follow the flying after diving rules! It could save your life.

If you have only performed one dive, you are free to fly 12 hours later. However, if you are diving multiple times a day for days on end, the industry standard is to wait at least 18 hours before hopping on a plane home.

Using a dive computer will give you the most accurate countdown for flying, based on your personal dive history.

6. Continue your education.

Expanding your dive knowledge makes you a safer diver in all aspects of scuba diving. Becoming a more experienced diver is always a good thing.

The SSI Science of Diving course will specifically increase your knowledge of decompression sickness and the effects of scuba diving on the human body.

No matter where in the world your diving takes you, staying safe should always be a priority. Thankfully, reducing your susceptibility to decompression sickness is as easy as following the rules and staying within safe diving limits.

These six recommendations will help to significantly reduce your chances of getting bent. So stay safe and go diving today!