To come up with guidelines for scuba diving safety, the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) in the past decade conducted a study analyzing a database of incidents for a period of 12 years covering 1st January 1998 to 31st December 2009 (UK Diving Fatalities Review – BSAC). These incidents were categorized and ranked according to their level of gravity:

Moray eel with scuba diver

Moray dancing

1. Fatalities

2. Decompression illness (DCI)

3. Surface or boating incidents

4. Ascent-related incidents

5. Technique-related incidents

6. Equipment-related incidents

7. Illness (non-DCI) or injury

8. Miscellaneous


In 2012, the National Diving Committee released their Diving Incidents Report (http://www.bsac.com/page.asp?section=1038&sectionTitle=Annual+Diving+Incident+Report), which placed DCI on top of the list.  Fatalities, on the other hand, were significantly low — which is a good thing.

Still, when it comes to dive safety, it is worthwhile not only to know the most common – yet easily avoidable — causes of dive incidents but, more importantly, to try to prevent them from happening at all costs.  Following these 5 safety rules in scuba diving will not only ensure your well-being underwater, but even that of your partner’s.

 Be Physically Fit

Diving is a physical and strenuous activity. Based on the 2012 report, 65% of the fatalities involved divers over the age of 50.  The underlying cause of death is often traced to heart attack or circulatory problems. This is because health and fitness normally decline due to increasing age. Divers therefore need to pay more attention to these factors as they grow older.  By being physically fit and well conditioned, your body will be more able to handle the stresses of this activity.

 Equipment Check-Up

Most accidents can be avoided by doing a pre-dive safety check between buddies. Often, by becoming too familiar with one’s equipment, it is easy to overlook a loose strap, a disconnected inflator hose, a close tank valve, or forgetting to put on a weight belt. But with the help of a buddy, this oversight can be corrected before it develops into a problem and results in an accident.

Also by having your regulator, BCD and your tank serviced regularly, wear-and-tear problems of the equipment can be detected long before it can cause any major damage or accident.

 Buddy System

There is a higher percentage of diving incidence when diving alone. That’s because in an emergency situation like a diver going out of air or becoming unconscious due to narcosis, such incidence will render a lone diver totally helpless. But with a buddy, access to an alternative air source is readily available and assistance for whatever need or predicament is always on hand. Also, having a buddy allows you to run through your pre-dive check with one another, help each other in and out of the water, and share the fun and experience of the whole dive together.

 Ascend Safely and Do a Safety Stop

As mentioned, DCI has often been at the top of the list of diving incidents in the past years. That’s primarily caused by the residual nitrogen in the body due to the compressed air being breathed. To avoid or minimize DCI, never ascend more than 15m/min up to 6m depth and 6m/min for the final 6m to the surface. Also to increase out-gassing in your body, make it a habit to do a safety stop (3min at 5m below the surface) at the end of each dive or a decompression stop when doing a decompression dive.

 Proper Training

Finally, nothing replaces proper training. Make sure you get your training from a legitimate club or a certifying agency. This ensures that the training you receive covers all the basics of scuba diving as well as the safety aspect of it.  It also helps to continue practicing the skills you learned until they become second nature to you. And remember, never dive beyond your level of training and experience.


By following these rules you would have addressed and safely avoided the majority of untoward incidents that occurred in the past decade.