An essential part of any dive is the safety stop, a skill that is introduced to every open water diver as part of their open water training dives. But what is a safety stop and why do we have to do one?
5 Metres For 3 Minutes
A safety stop takes place just before a scuba diver surfaces. Once the dive is finished a diver will signal to their buddy to ascend to 5 metres where they will remain for 3 minutes.
The stop helps diver’s off-gas any excess nitrogen that may have accumulated in their body over the duration of a dive. This reduces the risk of decompression sickness.
When making your stop you simply ascend slowly (no faster than 18m per minute) to 5m. Your dive computer should automatically enter safety stop mode and begin the countdown.
It is easiest to have a reference line to hold, try to grasp the line at chest level and maintain neutral buoyancy while watching your depth and time.
If no line is available then maintain an upright position, neutral buoyancy and monitor your dive computer for depth and time remaining.
During this safety stop you should inflate your Submersible Marker Buoy (SMB).
This communicates to any boats in the area that there are divers below and they will be ascending soon.
Deeper Into Diving
During your PADI Open Water course you would have completed at least one safety stop to meet the course requirements and ensure you understand how to conduct a safety stop and the reasons why. It is recommended you perform a safety stop at the end of every dive there afterward and especially on deep dives if you continue your scuba education and become a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver.
One of the most popular dive sites on Koh Tao is Chumphon Pinnacle where we often conduct our Deep diver training dives. Chumphon Pinnacle is world famous and known to be one of the finest dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand Sea.
When becoming a PADI Deep Diver Specialist we take you down to 40m which is the absolute maximum depth for recreational scuba diving. Here you will perform a simulated emergency decompression stop. This is basically an extended safety stop that would need to be completed if you accidentally overstayed your no stop dive time.
The theory behind this is that your body has accumulated a lot of nitrogen so you have to stay at the safety stop level for a longer interval to off gas the excess nitrogen.
In real life, if this did happen then upon surfacing you should remain out of the water for an extended period of time.
On the Deep diver specialty course you practice an 8 minute emergency stop while also using specialised deep diving equipment, such as a drop tank or a pony bottle.
Part of this course is aimed towards dive planning that will make sure you avoid this type of situation in the future.
This course is perfect for scuba divers who are interested in shipwrecks and wall dives and also contributes to becoming a PADI Master Scuba Diver, the highest non professional rating within the PADI system.
Safety Is Our Priority
At Crystal Dive all our PADI Instructors and Divemasters perform a safety stop at the end of every dive. Our divers’ safety is our No.1 priority.
Furthermore every member of our dive staff carries and deploys an SMB at the end of every dive, to ensure Koh Tao’s boat captains are aware there are scuba divers in shallower water that will soon ascend.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)