How to Rescue a Blacked-Out Diver | Freedive Earth

How to Rescue a Blacked-Out Diver

Underwater blackout is the leading cause of death amongst freedivers and every single one of the 40 or so deaths that occur as a result of blackout each year are equally tragic because they can be so easily prevented. The quick tips in the short guide below are a must for you to know if you’re thinking of freediving or spearfishing this summer.

Safe Freediving Practices

  1. Do a freediving course
  2. Learn the basics of providing freediving safety
  3. Practise rescue drills on dry land and in the water regularly with your buddy
  4. Always always dive with a trained and competent buddy in direct line of sight following the 1 up 1 down rule. Just being with someone else in the water doesn’t count.
  5. Make sure you know how to provide CPR
  6. Never, Ever Freedive Alone


How to Rescue a Blacked Out Freediver

When rescuing a blacked out diver, the key thing to do is get their airway (mouth and nose) above the surface of the water and secure it so that no water gets in. In the vast majority of cases this will be enough to bring them round. To help you remember what to do, learn the three R’s of freediving safety:

  1. Rescue
  2. Revive
  3. Resuscitate

The table below explains how you should do these things in each of the 3 common freediving scenarios - at depth, during dynamic apnea and whilst doing static:



Following these simple steps will, in all likelihood mean the difference between life and death for you and your buddy in the event of an accident. The vast majority of blackouts are resolved simply by bringing the diver to the surface and protecting their airway. Even this, though, is impossible if you’re not with a buddy. Never, Ever Freedive Alone!

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