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Cold induced near-panic!

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Luis_DLH, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. Luis_DLH

    Luis_DLH Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Glen Burnie MD
    Finished my AOW cert dives this weekend in a quarry. Air temp was 37F with wind chill of 31F, water temp according to dive computer was 42F. On day two we did our Deep Dive followed by a wreck dive. On our deep dive we went through a large swim-through about 15 feet below our current depth. Upon descending and entering the swim through I started experiencing heavy breathing and the beginning of panic. Coming up through the swim through it took about 15-20 seconds being stationary and the feeling completely subsided. This was very unusual for me because my mind was clear and I had gone through swim-throughs much tighter than that before. We concluded the dive without issue. Now, on our second dive (the wreck dive) we descended to about 65-70 feet and the same feeling came back. This time I ascended about 15 feet and it went away immediately. This was when it hit me that at that depth there was a second thermocline and my body reacted by rapid heavy breathing. This was an important lesson learned realizing that this is a reflex my body has when hitting water that cold. I was in a full 8.5 mil wetsuit with hood and gloves. Thankfully I was with a great instructor and we got through both dives without incident and I am now AOW certified! Next step...Dry Suit Diver class!
    Cowfish Aesthetic likes this.
  2. jrltenn

    jrltenn Public Safety Diver

    42F in a wetsuit :eek: I get a little panicky just thinking about that!
  3. Luis_DLH

    Luis_DLH Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Glen Burnie MD
    It was cold! I dont believe there is a better way to market the Dry Suit Diver course than to get in cold water with a wetsuit!
    HeliMech likes this.
  4. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    Could be some narcosis involved at that depth. Perhaps exacerbated by the cold.

    Any way you go, you're a better man than I. I don't even like to look at water that cold unless it's inside a glass full of booze.
  5. Neilwood

    Neilwood Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Scotland
    I have had similar reactions to you when there is a sharp change in temp - what is more worrying is that you don't know why you have started breathing so hard which in turn makes you breathe harder.

    Sounds easy to say but at any point like that it is important to remember the 4 steps - Stop, Breathe, Think & Act. Stop what you are doing (more likely pause), purposely slow your breathing, think about what the problem is and then act to sort it.

    My moment was probably a bit more dramatic - we were just starting the dive (dive 3 of OW IIRC) and had swum out on our backs to the buoy. Did our signals and started to descend at which point I went rigid with a "look of panic on my face" (his words) and started back to the surface. My instructor was more than a bit worried when he surfaced and got his reg out his mouth. Told him the issue and all he could do was laugh - it turned out my back zip suit hadn't been done up so as soon as there was a tiny gap between my back and the BCD it filled with water. The look of panic was just shock at 10C water hitting my nice warm back! To this day I still get teased about it to the point he adds ZIP to BWRAF.
  6. Resqdivemedic

    Resqdivemedic Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: chepachet, RI USA
    This sounds like a reaction the body has when exposed to cold water. As an ice rescue instructor, I teach what is known as the 1, 10, 1 rule. After immersion in cold water there is immediate deep gasps followed by deep rapid breathing, this could take 1-3 minutes to subside. Then you only have about 10 minutes of purposeful movement for self rescue before extremities become too cold and stiff, then up to 1 hour before unconsciousness results from severe hypothermia. It sounds like you had the initial stages similar to an immersion in cold water then as you rose above the thermocline you warmed enough to stop the effect. Just my thoughts.
  7. aquacat8

    aquacat8 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Savannah, GA
    I solved this by moving to the Deep South :)
    Snoweman, woodcarver and Kimela like this.
  8. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

    Why do you think the cold played a role? I'm not saying it wouldn't, but there's a lot going on in the way you describe it.

    chillyinCanada likes this.
  9. EireDiver606

    EireDiver606 Public Safety Diver

    A thick wetsuit is better than a shell Drysuit with thin/ wrong undergarments. I can speak from experience :)
    John C. Ratliff likes this.
  10. njdiverjoe

    njdiverjoe Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NJ
    Which quarry were you at?

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