Take a breath: tips for playing it safe while scuba diving


IT WAS sad to hear of the tragic death last week of a teenager pursuing his love of spearfishing.

Apparently he drowned after a breath-hold dive.

Shallow water blackout is an underwater "faint" due to lack of oxygen to the brain. It can be caused by holding the breath for long periods.

Without immediate rescue the person quickly drowns.

Most drownings from shallow water blackout occur in the ocean when spear fishermen black out.

It has also occurred in swimming pools when swimmers have attempted breath-hold pool laps.

There is no warning for the person. After a prolonged breath-hold the person simply blacks out.

Unconsciousness occurs either at the surface or just below.

Experts say performing hyperventilation can increase the risk.

Tips to prevent shallow water blackout include: never hyperventilate, never ignore the urge to breathe, never swim alone, and never play breath-holding games.

Topics:  outdoor-living scuba diving

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