Recreational diving fatalities

Undersea Hyperb Med. 2011 Jul-Aug;38(4):257-60.


The risks of dying during recreational diving are small. The Divers Alert Network (DAN) held a workshop to consider whether the risks could be reduced further. Topics included investigation, surveillance, operational safety and cardiovascular disease. Investigation is essential to determine causes and involves on-scene inquiry, forensic examination of the deceased, and testing of life support equipment, but thorough investigations are unusual. Independent annual fatality rates were presented and reviewed for diving, jogging, and motor vehicle accidents and for divers in training. Common factors associated with diving fatalities included running out of gas, entrapment or entanglement, buoyancy control, equipment misuse, rough waters and emergency ascent. Asphyxia by drowning, air embolism and cardiac events were the principal injuries or causes of death. About one-quarter of the deaths were associated with cardiac events, mostly in older divers. Revised procedures were recommended for identifying occult cardiovascular disease in candidate divers who warrant further investigation, but older, previously certified divers may be at greatest risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Autopsy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cause of Death* / trends
  • Diving / adverse effects*
  • Diving / statistics & numerical data
  • Drowning / mortality
  • Equipment Failure
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Recreation*
  • Safety