Avoiding/Surviving Freediver Blackout
- Choose a dive partner with a comparable skill level to your own
- Dive one up and one down maintaining direct supervision for at least 30 seconds after diver has surfaced
- Many blackouts occur within 30 seconds after surfacing
- Weight so that on a full exhale you are positively buoyant at the surface. This will make it more likely you will float up to and on the surface in a blackout.
- If you feel at risk of blackout OR you are involved in a rescue, immediately ditch your weight belt to increase the potential for a successful outcome
Take Your Time:
- Rest at the surface twice as long as your last dive time
- If you experience blackout and/or hypoxic symptoms (bluish lips or skin, loss of motor control, euphoria, etc.), stop diving for the day
- The Navy limits hyperventilating to 2-3 deep breaths before a dive - anything more than this can critically lower your CO2 level
- CO2 buildup in a breath-hold creates the trigger that tells the body it is time to breathe
- A proposal in 2006 calls for a diver to voluntarily limit his dive to 60 seconds - this allows for hyperventilation and exercise with a minimal risk of blackout
- Know basic CPR and how to handle a marine-based emergency
Freediving requires discipline. Participants need to know the risks and be prepared to minimize them as responsibly as possible. Freedivers should also be educated in victim resuscitation, being mentally prepared for the worst, so that they are ready to act.
Freediving is a rewarding and enjoyable pursuit. Please enjoy it safely and DiveWise!