Once upon a time, freediving was performed only by fishermen and shell-collectors trying to earn a living. Today, it is an activity that is continually growing in popularity among tourists. Before embarking on a freediving adventure, it is, however, helpful to be aware of some of the dangers of freediving.
Dubbed by Outsideonline.com as the second most dangerous extreme sport in the world, freediving is the practice of diving to depths exceeding 20 metres on a single breath and without scuba diving equipment.
Dangers of freediving
One of the dangers of freediving is the risk of developing abnormal cardiac rhythms and heart failure because of systemic (involuntary) changes designed to maintain consciousness within the body. These changes include:
- Constriction of blood vessels in your arms and legs combined with dilation of blood vessels in the brain and heart to funnel blood that is rich in oxygen to your cerebral cortex
- Your pulse plummeting to half (approximately 40 beats/minute) your resting heart rate
In addition, barometric pressure at depths exceeding 300 feet can reduce the size of your lungs to as little as the size of a nectarine.
Holding your breath for too long can also cause shallow-water blackout. This typically happens near the end of a dive, when oxygen levels within the body are at their lowest and the brain is at its most sensitive. Occurring without warning, shallow-water blackout can cause you to instantly lose consciousness and drown.
Preventing freediving incidents
You can help prevent freediving accidents by:
- Never diving alone and always having someone around to constantly monitor your dive
- Getting proper training. Many areas have certified diving instructors specialising in freediving who can explain surface intervals and weight belt safety to you
Knowing your limits, understanding that your brain could shut down well before your lungs give up and never attempting to prove just how long you can hold your breath while on a dive will equally assist in preventing potentially fatal accidents while freediving.
If you were injured in a scuba or freediving accident for which someone else was responsible, you may qualify for a personal injury claim. Have a confidential, no-obligation chat with an Accident Advice Helpline adviser to get helpful advice and learn more about making a claim by calling our 24-hour helpline on 0800 689 0500 or, when calling from your mobile, on 0333 500 0993 today. Or, take our 30-second online test to determine your eligibility.
Date Published: February 7, 2017
Author: Accident Advice