Emergency Ascent

08.03.2017 by Ina Medick
emergency ascend

When an accident happens under water or your regulator fails, you must get back to surface quickly and safely. In order to do so, you should arrange for an emergency ascent. Your diving instructor will show you how to proceed exactly during your beginners’ diving course.

What should I keep in mind during an emergency ascent?

In this situation there are usually two mistakes that you should absolutely avoid:

  • The worst thing that you can do now is to start panicking! Stay calm in any case, no matter how difficult that may be. Then if you panic, you will reach the limits of your air supply much faster.
  • Another common mistake: Ascending without any decompression stops. Thus the risk of decompression sickness significantly increases. And this is exactly what you want to avoid, when you have already experienced complications during the dive! Of course an exception would be a situation in which you have to get to the surface as fast as possible. For example, in the extremely unlikely case that you run out of air and your buddy is not within reach, in order to help you out with his alternative air supply.

The right thing to do here is a controlled ascent. Thereby, you proceed as follows:

  • First inform your diving buddy and ascend together with him. Thus you can calm and help each other.
  • Now ascend slowly. Make sure that you breathe out sufficiently, in order to prevent a barotrauma of the lungs.
  • Look upwards and move spirally towards the surface of the water. Hence you can avoid colliding with buoys or similar objects.
  • Do not ascend faster than 6-7 metres per minute, maximum 10 metres per minute. Your diving computer will draw attention to itself should you ascend too quickly.

Take it easy after an emergency ascent and observe your body precisely. If symptoms (e.g. itching, dizziness, pain, breathing difficulties) arise up to 48 hours after your ascent, consult a doctor immediately.


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