Dangers of Scuba Diving – How to Avoid Them

Last Updated: November 30, 2023

Everyone’s bucket list includes an underwater adventure. People have seen enough Hollywood movies to crave it. Major coastal destinations like Maldives, Bahamas, and Mauritius are well-known hotspots for scuba diving enthusiasts.

The flora and fauna that you witness below the water surface are simply mind blowing. But scuba diving is not an activity to be taken lightly. It comes with a lot of risks and precautions you must learn before taking the plunge.

Here is all you need to know about the dangers of scuba diving.

Scuba Diving Dangers

dangers of scuba diving

Risk is common in all adventurous activities. A risk assessment is necessary before you participate in any of them. Here is a roundup of the biggest dangers divers face.

Decompression Sickness

Decompression sickness or DCS is one of the most common diving-related risks. Underwater you will have to use compressed air for breathing. When you breathe compressed air, body tissues tend to absorb extra nitrogen. Too much nitrogen absorption creates nitrogen bubbles in the tissues.

When you resurface too fast, the consequence of it could be immense pain. If you leave it untreated, you will suffer nerve or tissue damage. Many factors can contribute to decompression sicknesses, such as physical fitness, alcohol, amount of sleep, and dehydration.

DCS is a serious condition that you must treat immediately when you encounter its symptoms.

Nitrogen narcosis

In deeper depths, divers feel dizziness and fatigue. Though it does not cause any physical damage, you will feel like drunk. The consequences of it can be lack of reasoning, difficulty in speaking or double vision.

The diver might lose control and make poor decisions which can lead to decompression sickness or other problems. In deeper depths of 80-100 feet of saltwater, you will require professional training to prevent such an outcome.

Nitrogen or inert gas narcosis is one of the reasons why diving beyond 60 feet requires special training and certification.

Lung overexpansion

If you ascend too quickly from a dive while holding your breath, you can suffer from lung overexpansion. When you hold your breath, the air gets trapped in your lungs. In case you ascend quickly, the air expands in your lungs, which can cause damage.

You must make sure not to hold your breath as you will have compressed air to rely upon. Ascend and descend slowly and with caution since lung overexpansion can be fatal. It is also called pulmonary embolism.

Malfunction of equipment


An equipment malfunction is a grave risk, especially for casual divers. If you do not own your gear, you will have to rent it. Rented pieces of equipment are not completely reliable. If the depth gauge is damaged, it could lead to mild decompression sickness.

A bad regulator can even drown you. If your regulator malfunctions, the panic you feel is enough to make a wrong decision, which can be fatal. Hence, you must check your gear properly before diving.

If you suspect that your rented piece of equipment is damaged, do not hesitate to ask for a new one.

Oxygen toxicity

Oxygen toxicity happens during deep diving. If you are a casual diver, then you do not have to worry about it. However, if you are planning to go deep diving, you must be wary of it. It happens below 130 feet in depth.

Professional divers use compressed air with more concentration of oxygen. In extreme depths high quantity of oxygen absorption becomes toxic. The consequence is reduced tunnel vision, twitching, nausea, loss of consciousness, and seizure.

Marine Life

Divers should never take anything for granted. The ocean is a habitat for many animals and divers should be aware that they can get hurt. Wild animals should always be treated with the utmost respect. Just as you would expect to use caution when visiting a zoo or a park full of wild animals, it’s important to have similar respect for marine life while underwater.

The majority of sea creatures pose no threat at all and will avoid a confrontation unless severely provoked. Most scuba diving deaths don’t result from a contact with marine life. It is not very common to die from being stung or bitten by any kind of sea animal, unless the diver did something very careless.

Diver accidents do happen though and can even be fatal, but the odds are that if you take some precautions, follow some common sense advice and respect the marine life, you will have a safe and enjoyable time with these amazing creatures.

The most dangerous thing about scuba diving is not sharks, the jellyfish or even the occasional sea urchin – it’s the divers themselves.

Is Scuba Diving Safe?

After learning the dangers and risks involved in scuba diving, having second thoughts about it is common. However, if you carry out the feat sensibly and with the necessary precautions in mind, you will have nothing to worry about.


Here is an insight about precautions and safety measures to adhere to while scuba diving.

Never hold your breath

As it has been explained above, holding breath can cause lung overexpansion. You must follow the correct diving procedures to prevent it. Pulmonary embolism is a fatal consequence when you hold your breath.

Regulate the rate of your ascent

Be patient while you are ascending or descending. Breathe continuously and ascend at a safe and slow rate. Maintain the ascent rate at less than 18 meters per minute.

Never forget to deflate BCD before beginning your ascent. Make sure to never use the inflator button to get to the surface.

Dive within your limits

Never overexert yourself or dive beyond your limit. Deepwater diving requires professional training, without which diving deep can be fatal.

If you feel that the conditions are not safe for you, then don’t dive. Go only as deep as per your current level of certification.

Maintain good health

Good health and physical fitness are necessary for scuba diving. Carrying scuba gear underwater, diving in a strong current, it can all be physically demanding.

You must maintain basic fitness for a safe dive. Lack of fitness can cause overexertion and faster air intake, which in turn can cause number of accidents.

If you are tired, do not carry out scuba diving since it increases your chances of getting down with the bends.

Practice and training

Regular practice and training are important for a safe scuba diving experience. You must keep up your skills to survive any emergency.

When underwater, anything can happen to you or your buddy. Survival emergency skills can prevent a fatality. Hence, you must learn the basics of it before diving.

Final Thoughts

Scuba diving is a worthwhile and relaxing experience. No doubt you will enjoy every second of it. If you follow through with the rules and precautions with vigilance, you will not have to worry about any consequences.

With careful preparation and common sense, scuba diving becomes an easy feat. Scuba diving accidents are treatable to a large extent. Even in the worst case, you will have backup and medical treatment to rely on.

Hence, take your buddies along with you and enjoy the underwater beauty at its finest without any hesitations or second thoughts.

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