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The Divers Alert Network (DAN) has issued its annual report: Diving Fatalities, Injuries and Accidents, a compilation of data for the years 2010-2013. Worldwide between 2010 and 2013, DAN received notification of 561 deaths involving recreational scuba diving. The report reveals that the majority of recreational diving fatalities were  men over 40 years of age, and more than half were over 50. “Today, perhaps more than ever,” the authors of the report conclude, “fitness to dive is critical in recreational diving.” DAN began reporting on diving incidents in 1987 to help prevent diving injuries as well as keep divers up to date on unsafe behaviors and emerging hazards.

The report includes a freediving or breath-hold category and indicates an increase in the reported number of  fatalities in this “fast growing” sport. Tracking of freediving or breath-holding incidents began in 2005, and a total of 243 fatalities were captured in 2010-2013. The distribution of ages is younger than in scuba diving and with different causes of death. The report emphasizes that the widely known but not always practiced use of a“spotter” at the surface, combined with limiting excessive hyperventilation, could significantly reduce the number of breath-hold fatalities. Read the report here.

The Divers Alert Network is the largest association of recreational scuba divers in the world. Its mission is to “help divers in need of medical emergency assistance and to promote dive safety through research,education, products and diving services.” Supported by membership dues and donations, DAN membership includes access to insurance services and emergency medical evacuation assistance.

Photo Credit: Hidden Ocean Expedition 2005/NOAA/OAR/OER