When is a safety stop required? I’d say on every scuba dive
For me scuba diving is about have fun and enjoying the dive. But it’s also about diving safely too. Safety stop diving for me is a necessary factor for all scuba diving.
Safety stop diving is recommended safe practice to ensure you enjoy safe diving every time you scuba dive. A safety stop is best performed at between 5-6 metres (16-20 feet) for 3 minutes. A safety stop is to make sure you’re properly decompressed from your scuba dive.
What is a safety stop in scuba diving and when is a safety stop required?
A safety stop in scuba diving is an extra stop that's recommended in scuba diving for safety.
When is a safety stop required? I'd say a safety stop is required on every scuba dive you do. Unless of course the dive is to 10 metres (32 feet) or less. If the dive is very shallow, then there's no point in doing a safety stop, as the whole dive has been spent in the shallows.
A safety stop is not a decompression stop as such, as a decompression stop is a required stop for your dive profile (see below for the difference between a safety stop and a decompression stop).
Having said that a safety stop is to make sure you’ve properly decompressed at the end of your dive. Which is similar to a decompression stop.
A safety stop in scuba diving is a stop near the surface at the end of your dive, which is done purely as a precautionary measure.
Every scuba diver is different. Everyone has a different body. You may be more dehydrated than your dive buddy. Or you might have a different tissue make up. There are many factors that can affect the rate of nitrogen release on your dive ascent.
All of these factors will affect how quickly the dissolved nitrogen is released from your body tissues on your ascent from your dive.
Why not simply rely on your dive computer?
You will probably rely on your dive computer to help you control your ascent from your dive.
You will also use your dive computer to help you decide when to leave the bottom and ascend to avoid going into a decompression stop dive.
Your dive computer will also help you to decide on your decompression stops, if your dive is a decompression stop dive.
However, although dive computers are mostly ultra conservative in the way they calculate ascent rates, dive times and decompression stops, it's impossible for them to take account of every body type and situation.
That's why I always recommend you do a safety stop on every dive you do for at least three minutes. There are also many dive organisations and dive companies that insist on a mandatory safety stop on every dive too.
What does a safety stop do?
A safety stop in scuba diving is similar to a decompression stop, as it allows extra time for the nitrogen gasses to escape safely from your body.
But a safety stop is not calculated by your dive computer. It’s simply an added precautionary stop.
What is the best depth to do your safety stop at?
The best depth to do your safety stop when scuba diving is best done at 6 metres (20 feet). However, there are some scuba divers that recommend you safety stop at 5 metres (16 feet) instead.
Whether you opt for 5 or 6 metres for your safety stop, both are okay. I always prefer 6 metres than 5 metres, as I find it easier.
However, don't worry too much about which depth is better (i.e. is it better to safety stop at 6 metres or 5 metres?), just make sure you make the safety stop at the end of your dive for a full three minutes.
What is the difference between a safety stop and decompression stop?
The difference between a safety stop and a decompression stop is that a decompression stop forms part of a dive profile. Whereas a safety stop doesn’t. Safety stops are not built into dive computer profiles. But they are similar in so far as they are designed to allow for extra decompression time.
A safety stop is an extra stop for safety reasons only. A decompression stop is a required stop. This stop is to allow decompression to happen. It will be part of your ascent if your dive has entered what's known as a decompression stop dive.
A decompression stop dive is where your dive time at a certain depth exceeds the 'no decompression stop time limit.' If this happens, that means instead of simply ascending to the surface at a constant slow ascent rate, you now need to stop at certain intervals for additional decompression.
The stop intervals, or decompression stops, and how many there are and the length of the decompression stop will depend on the depth of your dive and how far you exceeded the 'no stop decompression time limit.'
I hope you enjoyed this article about safety stop diving
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or types of scuba diving (or specifically about safety stop diving), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.
Have fun and be safe!