Decompression Diving Procedures

To decompress and off gas excess inert gas correctly and efficiently is imperative so as to avoid decompression illness (DCI). By following the staged decompression procedures outlined here, your ability to off gas sufficiently increases and makes decompression diving safer. Remember, however, that no matter how stringent you follow decompression guidelines and safety factors, you can still be susceptible to getting DCI on any dive.

· Make sure you and your team hydrates well prior to the dive. Start hydration at least 12 hours prior to the dive and make sure to hydrate after the dive.

· Plan your dive appropriately with the right gases for your bottom mix and your decompression mixes. Use gases that limit inert gas buildup and allow for the best and most efficient off gassing during decompression.

· Locate, set up, and mark a point that provides the entire dive team a suitable place to decompress. This might include a down line when wreck diving or specific location in a cave or cavern when cave diving. You should be able to rest comfortably with some type of handhold so that your chest remains at a constant depth. You don’t want to be moving up and down. Sometimes knowing exactly where you’re going to decompress at each stop depth is not practical, but knowing the requirements you need to follow when at a stop depth can help you decide on a spot during the dive.

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Ice Diving FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
What is ice diving?

Ice diving is cutting a hole in thick ice on a lake or other body of water and descending underneath the ice. Ice diving is obviously diving in very cold water and requires special equipment and procedures.

Why would you want to ice dive?

One of the reasons is the clarity of the water. With reduced sunlight, lack of movement, and the temperature of the water all combine to create some of the clearest water that can be found. The clarity of the water attracts photographers and videographers.

Another reason why you might want to take up ice diving is because of where you live. If you live in the north where lakes freeze every year and traveling to warmer, tropical locations is not in the budget, taking up ice diving can be a great way to get in the water in the winter without having to travel great distances.

Finally, the thrill and excitement of ice diving is a big reason divers get into the sport. The challenge and lure of descending below the ice draws drivers from around the world to give it a try.

Do you need a special certification to ice dive?

No, you don’t need a special certification, but you do need special training. Training agencies like PADI and NAUI offer ice diving training, which you should take before trying to dive below the ice.

Do you need special equipment to ice dive?

Yes, special cold-water regulators, ropes, and either a very thick wetsuit or dry suit is required. You also need descent lighting because it is very dark below the ice. Some divers opt for full face masks for added warmth.

What do you see below the ice?

One of the primary reasons to dive below the ice is because of the clarity of the water.  You will see a variety of life that you can not experience otherwise.

Deep Diving Frequently Asked Questions

What is deep diving?

Deep diving can be broken down into two levels: recreational deep diving and technical deep diving. Recreational deep diving is diving to depths between 60 and 130 feet (18 to 40 m) following no decompression requirements. Technical deep diving is diving to depths beyond 130 feet (40 m) using staged decompression methods and the proper gasses, like trimix as the bottom gas and nitrox and oxygen for decompression.

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Decompression Illness

Photo: Steve May

Decompression illness (DCI), also known as “the bends” or caisson disease, is a illness that occurs when bubbles form in your body’s tissues because of an excessive quantity of inert gas (nitrogen or helium) due to inadequate decompression following the exposure to increased pressure. During a dive, your body’s tissues absorb nitrogen or helium from your breathing gas in proportion to the surrounding pressure. As long as you remain at pressure (depth), the inert gas does not present any problems. If the pressure is reduced too quickly, from a rapid ascent for example, the inert gas can come out of solution and form bubbles in your body’s tissues and bloodstream. Once bubbles are formed they may or may not produce symptoms based on their eventual growth. When symptoms occur, they relate to the area in the body where the bubble is located.

DCI can occur as a result of violating no decompression limits and not properly decompressing during your ascent, ascending too rapidly on a no decompression dive, pushing dive tables to their limits, skipping or shortening decompression stops during a staged decompression dive, or pushing the limits on tables or dive computers when making repetitive dives. But, DCI can also occur even when you follow all of the recommended guidelines and safety factors.

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Prevention of Decompression Illness

Preventing DCI one hundred percent is not probable or realistic. DCI can occur even when you follow all of the guidelines and safety factors and your day to day body physiology can change, which can increase or decease your susceptibility of getting DCI.

There are a number of things you can do to limit the risks of getting DCI:
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