Survival Techniques For Dive Catastrophes

It goes without saying that preparation is the only way to deal with highly unlikely and unforeseen incidents.

This post reviews 10 catastrophic situations that a diver may face as presented by  I don’t think that you need to be remind you that the first rule for all situations is to remain calm and not panic.

Here are a three of ten catastrophic scenarios along with their associated suggested steps as detailed in the article referenced below.:

Extreme Weather
You are scuba diving and surface to find that you are in the middle of a raging storm. As unlikely as this sounds, seven Japanese scuba divers experienced this. They entered the water under good conditions, but surfaced to a storm. Five survivors were found clinging to a rocky reef three days later and 12 miles from their original position.

Suggested steps include:

1. Inflate your BC. You’ll need every ounce of energy to stay warm and slow the onset of hypothermia, and treading water to stay afloat increases your cooling rate by 35 percent.

2. Get into the HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Posture). Tuck your legs up to your chest and wrap your arms around them, which will slow heat loss from your body by 50 percent. Your survival time in open water varies greatly depending on water temperature, your body size, and whether you’re wearing a full wetsuit. Survival time is almost unlimited in 80-degree Caribbean waters, while it’s limited to one or two hours in water that’s colder than 50 degrees.

3. Signal for help. Deploy a safety sausage (you do carry one, don’t you?). Don’t have a mirror? During the day, a shiny object — from your mask to a dive computer face — is one of the best signal devices available. Sweep the horizon to flash reflected light at a possible search vessels or aircraft. This signal can be seen up to 40 miles away.

4. Swim for shore only if rescue seems unlikely. If you are nearing a rugged shoreline, drop your tank before you land so it doesn’t beat you senseless against the rocks.

Fighting an extreme Current

What would you do if you are swept away in a powerful current while diving in an area known for current an unpredictable tidal shifts?

Suggested steps include:


1. Don’t try to fight the current. Most riptide deaths result from swimming against the current to the point of exhaustion.

2. Swim parallel to the shore, across the riptide. If the riptide is sucking you away from the shore, it’s better to wind up a mile down the beach than a mile out at sea. Most riptides are less than 100 feet wide and weaken rapidly on the seaward side of the sandbars that create them.


1. Again, don’t fight it. Defeat is inevitable, even if it’s flowing at what seems like a moderate 3 or 4 knots. Instead, ascend to the surface.

2. At the surface, inflate your BC and signal for pickup. One arm held straight up with a clenched fist means you’re OK, but need a pickup. Use a surface signaling device if the boat crew can’t spot you.

Lost Underwater At Night With a dead light and you have lost your dive buddy.  Any ideas?

Suggested steps include:

1. Orient yourself. Feel the exhaust bubbles coming out of your regulator and make sure you know which way is up. Now maintain your depth and location. Pay attention to your ears, which will tell you if you’re ascending or descending.

2. Make a 360-degree turn and look for your buddy’s light. Go slowly, because if your buddy’s light is shining away from you, it will be hard to see.

3. Bang on your tank four times. The sound will attract your buddy’s attention. You can also shout into your regulator — people respond to their names even when they can’t seem to hear anything else.

4. If you spot your buddy, approach slowly. Think about it: How would you respond to a mysterious, silent sea creature grabbing you in the inky blackness of a night dive?

5. If you don’t spot your buddy in one minute, ascend and look for him on the surface.

The other scenarios covered in the article include:

Running out of Air With no Backup
Disoriented without a Working ComputerSafely Handling a Panicked Dive Buddy
Loss of Limb During A Shark Attack
Getting Caught in a Downdraft
Trapped In A Wreck
Getting Bent Without Access To a Recompression Chamber


Read the entire article for full details  here on


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