How to Conduct a Safe Scuba Diving Descent
Controlling the descent rate is an important element when scuba diving; It offers as time to get used to the surrounding, minimizes risks and damages both to us and the environment. Let’s find out how it’s all done.
Why is a controlled descent so important?
Descending slowly and comfortably is pretty simple, but isn’t trivial to new divers.
There are many reasons for learning to descend properly:
- Descending fast we risk squeezing our air spaces especially our ears. We must descent slow to allow our air spaces, such as masks and ears, enough time to equalize the changes in pressure.
- If close to the bottom when descent starts we can easily damage the environment, by crushing the fragile reef, stepping on creatures and so on.
- By descending fast we’re risking ourselves. There are plenty of creatures like Stone fish to Stingrays we don’t want to step on unintentionally.
- Stirring up the bottoms composition will decrease visibility.
How to complete a controlled descent:
Remember the acronym S.O.R.T.E.D
SIGNAL– signal everybody that the dive is about to begin
ORIENTATION– look around you above the surface and below, if you are to finish that dive at the same spot, it may be good to know how the exit point looks like. Look bellow you for a clear path to descent, and a quick orientation as to where you’re about to go.
REGULATOR– exchange the snorkel with the regulator.
TIME– start your timing device. Dive starts now. Dive computers will do this automatically.
EQUALIZE/ELEVATE– remember to equalize frequently, especially at shallow water, where pressure changes more dramatically. Elevate the Low Pressure Inflator Hose to allow air trapped in the BCD to vent out.
DEFLATE/DESCENT– slowly and gradually deflate your BCD, best way is to deflate it once, exhale and check if you descend or not. If you’re still on the surface, repeat this again until you descent slowly.
Tips for safe and controlled descent:
- Descent feet first. It’s easier to deflate your BCD using the LPI hose and it only works when it’s the highest point of your body. That means you need to face up when dumping air through the LPI.
- By descending feet first if you release too much air and become negatively buoyant, you can always swim up a bit.
- Remember to equalize your dead air spaces; your mask and ears. If you experience problems equalizing, stop your descent, signal your buddy and ascent a few feet/ meter to relieve some of the pressure. Learn more about equalizing here.
- It’s important to carry the right amount of weights necessary for your dive. Carrying to much weight can cause rapid descent if to much air is released at once. Find out how to estimate how much weight you need and how to complete a buoyancy check.