Statistically, the risk of dying while scuba diving is about even for experienced divers and non-experienced divers. However, accidents do happen. Statistics indicate that one diving death occurs for every 200,000 dives.
Diving fatalities are usually associated with rough water conditions, inadequate buoyancy control, and equipment misuse. There are also other causes, such as sudden cardiac death.
Approximately one quarter of diving fatalities are related to cardiac events. They are characterized by chest discomfort, loss of consciousness, or a history of emergency ascent. These incidents are more likely to be life-threatening.
Other causes of diving fatalities are pulmonary barotrauma, a condition characterized by pulmonary vasculature and emphysema. The risk of cardiac arrest is higher for older divers, especially those with pre-existing conditions.
The risk of dying while scuba diving can be reduced by following sound diving practices, such as keeping proper weights, and checking gauges frequently. In addition, divers should practice clearing their masks in a pool before diving.
Some divers panic, which reduces their chances of survival. Panic is often caused by stress. Panic reduces a diver’s ability to control depth. It may also increase a diver’s gas consumption, thereby reducing the diver’s chances of surviving.
A diver may also panic when he or she is in a situation that is unsafe. In this case, the diver may try to surface early, causing the diver to become unconscious and potentially causing AGE (air embolism).
The most common cause of scuba diving fatalities is an air embolism. This occurs when gas enters the arterial blood through ruptured pulmonary vessels. The gas then spreads bubbles around the tissues. The bubbles can enter the brain and heart, causing death. It is possible to survive AGE, but a diver should be taken to a hyperbaric oxygen treatment facility immediately if he or she becomes unconscious.