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Sécurité en plongée : de l'importance des paliers de décompression

Scuba diving puts the body under a lot of pressure in a very real sense. A scuba diver going down the depths of the ocean experiences an ever increasing pressure from his or her surrounding environment the deeper he or she goes. This pressure has an effect in the body of the diver which, if not addressed correctly, can lead to excruciating pain, physical damage and even death.

 One of the most important ways to counter the mounting pressure being exerted on the scuba divers body while diving is doing decompression stops when he or she surfaces. When doing a decompression stop, a diver has to stop at certain depths in the water, stay there for a pre calculated length of time and allow his or her body to release the "microbubbles" which can be found in a diver's body after every dive. These "microbubbles" are the main cause of decompression sickness which is common among divers. This conditions is also commonly known as the “bends” by divers. 

Decompression stops is often referred to as staged decompressions. There is also another method of decompression called continuous decompression. Basically, a human body will always need to go through a decompression stage after it has gone through a change in atmospheric pressure such as what divers experience.

The decompression stage is a necessity which allows the body to adapt to the drop in atmospheric pressure that a human body experiences after spending some time in a high pressure environment such as deep under the sea. If not allowed to decompress, bubbles of inert gases form in the body. These bubbles will naturally try to escape from the body and, as it does so, it will cause tremendous pain and damage in the body, sometimes even causing death.

Decompression stops are scheduled mainly according to how long and how deep a scuba diver goes. The deeper the scuba diver goes and the longer he or she stays there, the more decompression stops need to be accomplished and the longer the time needed to decompress. Usually, a dive to a relatively shallow depth can require only a single decompression stop. Deeper dives require more decompression stops, however. Usually, during a deep dive, the scuba diver will have to make decompression stops along the way as he or she ascends to shallower waters. The shallower he or she goes, the longer the time needed to decompress. Thus, while a decompression stop at 40 meters may require 3 to 5 minutes of decompression, a decompression stop at 10 meters may require 5 to 10 minutes of decompression.

 Any serious and safety minded scuba diver will schedule his or her decompression stops before he or she does the dive. There are many factors that need to be considered for a proper decompression schedule such as the depth of the dive, the length of the dive and the type of fire the scuba diver uses. It is therefore highly recommended that scuba diving decompression stops be measured and computed well before hand for maximum scuba diving safety.