You’re back on the dive boat or on land after an amazing dive. Maybe you’ve explored a wreck and seen some mind-blowing underwater life.
Although your dive is ended, as a newbie diver, here are some guidelines to behaviors which must be strictly adhere to. Most divers know that air travel immediately following a scuba dive can lead to decompression sickness. This is part of the theory you will have learned in the Open Water Course. But did you know there are other post-diving rules?
1. Straight after your dive, do not leave your kit all over the place
Keep it tidy and out of everyone’s way. Leaving your stuff in the way is a quick way to it getting lost or broken.
2. Surface Interval pre-Flying
Back to the issue of flying after diving, PADI recommends waiting 12-18 hours after diving before traveling on an airplane. The number depends on how many dives you made.
DAN’s detailed guidelines are as follows:
- For a single no-decompression dive, a minimum preflight surface interval of 12 hours is suggested.
- For multiple dives per day or multiple days of diving, a minimum preflight surface interval of 18 hours is suggested.
- For dives requiring decompression stops, there is little evidence on which to base a recommendation and a preflight surface interval substantially longer than 18 hours appears prudent.
To be completely sure, many divers plan a 24-hour surface interval and spend their time exploring topside attractions.
3. Avoid being at altitude
While mountain tops are beautiful, driving to the top of a mountain to take some photographs is a risky behavior after diving. Indeed the Decompression Sickness risks may be similar to that of being in an airplane Just consider that the cabin pressure in an average commercial jet is equivalent to being at 1800–2400 metres (6000–8000) feet above sea level. Many mountains in both Europe and the U.S. indeed fall within that range.
If simulated altitude puts you at risk for Decompression Sickness, then similarly actually being at altitude is also risky.
4. Avoid Alcohol
Sorry guys and girls. Hands off that beer cooler or minibar!
While hydration is very important after a dive, alcohol must be avoided for as long as possible. Indeed, Alcohol dehydrates you and this is the completely opposite effect of what we are trying to achieve. At the same time, it impairs your movement and judgement which can mask signs and symptoms of Decompression Sickness, with all of this possibly happening on a moving boat with heaving and expensive items which can fall over. Consider water as your drink of choice but if you unwind with a few adult beverages, first drink lots of water and then enjoy in moderation.
5. Avoid Deep Tissue Massage
Deep Tissue Massage leaflets promise deep relaxation and improved blood flow. However, it is important to note that increased blood flow immediately following a dive is a bad thing because it may lead to bubble formation.
Massage may also result in muscle soreness that might cause soreness which can lead to misdiagnosis (or delayed diagnosis) of Decompression Sickness. Rub that achy shoulder instead or do some stretches but avoid the massage for a while.
6. Avoid Hot Baths
For the sake reason as above, because a hot bath may result in increased blood flow as the body warms up, this should be avoided after a dive.
In conclusion, there are plenty of things that you can do at the surface following your dive, e.g. fill in your logbook, wash your dive kit down and hang it up properly.