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How to Deal with a Panicking Diver

The opportunity to explore the beautiful, enigmatic and peaceful world beneath the waves is fun and exciting but there are things that may be within or beyond your control which can turn your diving adventure into a precarious situation. So whether it’s your first or nth time to go diving, it’s important to be ready in case something unexpected happens.

Panic has been associated with many recreational diving accidents that’s why it’s crucial that you learn how to deal with a panicking diver. There are different possible reasons why a diver experiences anxiety underwater and claustrophobia is one of them. For example, a diver may go through a panic attack when he ventures into tight spaces with overhanging features. In some cases, new divers who have little or no experience may find the unfamiliar environment a bit overwhelming or a close encounter with a creature of the deep like a shark can trigger fear and turn on the internal panic button.

Whatever the reason behind the sudden grip of panic, losing your ability to think straight due to intense fear can endanger your life and that of your dive buddy. Here are some simple tips that can help you deal with a diver in distress mode.

Recognize the telltale signs


A diver who is about to experience a panic attack may feel that something dangerous is about to take place and this fear can make the person’s heart accelerate and make breathing difficult. Other symptoms may include sweating, trembling, chest pain, and dizziness.

It’s hard to detect the things that are happening to a diver internally but you can stay alert for external manifestations like a wide-eyed stare, failure to communicate or understand hand signals, and being in a frozen state. Other possible active signs are arm thrashing, grabbing the regulator from another diver in an attempt to get air, and making a sudden bolt to the surface.

Approach with caution


When you observe any of the said signs, the best thing to do is to help the diver calm down so you could safely assist him to the surface to avoid a potential underwater emergency. Begin by approaching the individual carefully with your arm outstretched and your palm up to convey a “stop” signal while maintaining direct eye contact.

Never show fear or doubt and avoid making frantic and big hand movements that could increase the person’s uneasiness. What the other person needs is to feel reassured that you’re there to help him and not the other way around. Once the person responds to your signal and recognizes your intention to help, you can hold the person by the upper arm or BC strap while maintaining eye contact and coach him to take slow and deep breaths.

If the diver is struggling to breathe, check his gauges to know if he is in fact out of air. If that’s the case, you can give him your octopus (spare regulator) and purge it once it’s in his mouth. If there is no air supply problem, you can get his octopus and place it in his mouth, purging it of any water.

Assist the diver back to the surface

After dealing with the air situation, assist the diver back to the safety of the surface. Swim behind the person and keep your hand firmly on his tank valve while making sure that the regulator is properly in place as you make a slow ascent. If possible, lead the diver to the anchor line to give him more confidence as he ascends. Inflate his BC once you reach the surface and then head towards the boat. Signal for help so that the people on the vessel can help you get back on board.

Know your limits

The purpose of establishing proper rescue techniques is to help other divers in need and at the same time minimize your own risk. In extreme situations where a much larger diver is actively fighting you, sometimes the best option is to back away and seek the help of a more capable person like your divemaster.

Dive mantra

Keep this manta at heart whenever you go on a diving trip and pass it on: Stop – Breathe – Think – Act.

When you feel panic creeping in, stop swimming and concentrate on your breathing. Take slow and deep breaths to help yourself maintain control and then think of your next move. If you are not confident about continuing the dive, don’t be afraid to cut your dive short if it means saving you and your buddy from a potential underwater emergency.

If you want to be more confident in handling underwater emergencies, Nemo Diving Center’s Rescue Diver Course teaches vital concepts and skills to prevent diving accidents and deal with them as they occur.


Scuba diving is an exciting and adventurous water sport that offers a chance to explore the beauty of the underwater world and its amazing marine life. The UAE, particularly Dubai, is one of the most popular destinations for scuba diving, attracting divers from all over the world. With its crystal clear waters and diverse marine life, scuba diving in Dubai offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

The cost of scuba diving in Dubai varies depending on the dive center you choose and the type of dive you opt for. On average, a single dive can cost anywhere from AED 250 to AED 550, with the average price for a single dive being around AED 350. This price usually includes all the necessary equipment, such as the dive tank, regulator, and wetsuit, as well as the services of a professional dive guide. At Nemo Diving Center, We offer a wide range of diving packages to suit every budget and experience level.

Diving in Dubai is an incredible experience, and the UAE is home to many dive sites teeming with amazing marine life including colorful soft and hard corals, sea turtles, stingrays, manta rays, moray eels, cuttlefish, octopus, nudibranchs, seahorses, and a plethora of fish species. It is also noted for its incredible dive wrecks that have become rich artificial reefs. These dive sites offer a unique and exciting diving experience, providing a chance to explore sunken ships and other structures that have become havens for marine life.

Come and explore the unique underwater world of Palm Jumeriah in Dubai and incredible dive sites in Fujairah such as Dibba Rock, Sharm Rock, Martini Rock, Snoopy Island, and more. At Nemo Diving Center, we offer dive trips to these amazing dive sites, allowing divers to discover the incredible marine life that has made the wreck its home. We also offer a wide range of other dive sites to choose from, including shallow coral reefs, deep wrecks, and drift dives, providing something for every level of diver.

In conclusion, scuba diving in Dubai offers an unforgettable experience for all levels of diver. With its clear waters, diverse marine life, and incredible dive sites, Dubai is a must-visit destination for any scuba diver. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, our team at Nemo Diving Center will ensure that you have an amazing time exploring the beauty of the underwater world.



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