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How safe is scuba diving?

Jerry Seinfeld is wrong. Scuba diving is safe.

This morning as I look for inspiration to write I was listening to Seinfeld having fun with our sport. Jerry is a funny man. But he is completely wrong about diving, which may be one of the safest things to do on the planet. That’s right scuba diving is safe — even with sharks!

Scuba diving versus other human activities 

Oceanic Manta, Kids Sea Camp, scuba diving, family vacations, scuba diving is safeScuba diving death rate: 1 out of every 211,864 dives ends in death, according to DAN (2010 workshop report). Since I’m looking at around 2,000 dives in my scuba career, I believe I’ll keep diving. Margo, on the other hand, is a lot closer at 7,500 dives in her scuba life, so she needs to start worrying about her diving death, maybe two lifetimes from now. So like I said before scuba diving is safe.

In fact, a DAN study looking at DCS (Decompression sickness) states that from 1998 to 2004, or 105,135 dives, 95% were “uneventful”. And out of that 5% the most common problem, 2.7% was equalization, then buoyancy at 0.9%. The face mask was the next issue at 0.69% with dive computer issues dragging in last at 0.4%. Diving seems pretty darn safe.

Shark accidents: Just because it’s fun to talk about sharks and diving and at one time one of my biggest fears, sharks will kill me. It simply not true. Since (2000-2010) there were on average 65 shark attacks worldwide a year. Only 5 of those attacks, ever ended in death. That number includes many of our human activities playing in the ocean; scuba diving, surfing, swimming, etc. So sharks are not the killing machines we believe (Numerous national and international reports).

  1. Human accidents: As far as the sharks that are reading this blog, well our ” finned friends” need to stay away from us. Sharks vs. humans — humans win, we kill about 100 million sharks a year. Most of it due to “finning”.
  2. Car accidents: I would advise not to get in your car today. 1 out of every 5,555 registered drivers in the U.S. died in some sort of car accident each year (Census 2008).
  3. Birth: This is not the stat of the week at all, but giving birth can be a risky business. 1 out of every 7,692 women dies due to complications in childbirth (NCHS).
  4. Jumping out of an airplane: First, if you’re doing it, God Bless you. Margo has done it and she says she still misses skydiving. But ain’t no way I’m jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Anyway, the rate is not as bad as I thought. 1 out of every 116,666 skydives ends in death. So I guess, keep “free falling”, without me. (United States Parachuting Association)
  5. Running: Being healthy can be dangerous to your health. 1 out of every 126,626 marathon runners died of sudden cardiac arrest during a run (1975-2003, NSC).
  6. Falling out of bed: To put all this in a better light, falling out of bed is a real killer. In any single year, 1600 or so people will die by falling out of their beds this year.

So it seems that being under the water is safer than our normal daily life. All the more reason to jump on a plane and head to a Kids Sea Camp week and go diving.

Being with Margo has shown me that “fear” is the real killer in life. And more than anything is that fear is what keeps us from doing the thing we love to do.

So, what do all these numbers and odds mean to me is, well— we really live is a fairly safe world. And even as we do all these fun and adventurous activities more than likely we are all going to live a long and healthy life.

And if we keep living the “Kids Sea Camp” life it will be full of great stories to tell that will live long after we’re dead. And you will know after many years scuba diving is safe.



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