AVOIDING DECOMPRESSION SICKNESS (THE BENDS) – Ian McKinnon

My very first scuba dive was in Aqaba, Jordan in April 1974. I’ll never forget it. I can’t recall at the time being told about the bends. In those days there was no accredited course curriculum.

What I can remember is the Instructor telling me “Never hold your breath while ascending to the surface and swim up slowly”

A few thousand dives later I can say that I have never felt even the mildest symptoms of the bends. I put that down to the following:

  • Always dive conservatively – staying well within the no-decompression limits.
  • Ascending at a rate no greater than 9 metres per minute
  • Doing a three minute safety stop at the end of each dive
  • Staying well hydrated both before and after each dive
  • Not flying until at least twelve hours after a single dive.

NOTE: Incidents of the bends are rare. Any sign or symptom which occurs within 24 to 48 hours of diving should be considered to be diving-related until demonstrated to be otherwise. Every diver is encouraged to join DAN (Divers Alert Network) Telephone (03) 9886 9166