It goes without saying that you don’t want to get behind the wheel of a car after you’ve had too much to drink. The consequences are too dire and you could seriously injure yourself or others. The same should be said then for drinking and diving. It’s sometimes hard to bypass those wonderful tropical drinks calling to you with their colorful little umbrellas or those refreshing ice cold beers while you’re enjoying an exotic diving vacation, cruise or honeymoon in a tropical climate.
You may think you’re okay, but remember, alcohol of any kind depresses your central nervous system and slows your reaction time and can seriously impair making quick decisions under water. Everyone knows that enjoying yourself the night before a dive can cause the typical hangover trio: nausea, drowsiness and dehydration. These effects are a serious combination that you don’t want, especially if you’re traveling on a dive boat out to your destination.
Being hungover or even a “little off your game” can cause you to be unfocused and skip important safety checks. The information you get from your dive captain before your dive is critical to the success and enjoyment of your dive. Not being 100 percent focused may ultimately increase the potential for risk for both you and your dive buddy that is counting on you to have their back under water.
And while everyone may metabolize alcohol differently, the negative effects of even a little alcohol in your system has the potential to be greatly amplified in the pressurized diving environment. Alcohol can also significantly increase the effects of nitrogen narcosis and dehydration from drinking is a primary cause of decompression sickness. According to a report from Divers Alert Network (DAN), more than one-third of divers with decompression sickness had consumed alcohol within the twelve hours prior to their dive.
With proper education, training and experience, diving is a relatively safe sport. However, there are inherent risks involved in diving that can be mitigated if you take the proper precautions. The best way to avoid increasing your risk is to have a Zero Tolerance rule the day before you dive just to be safe. Instead, drink plenty of water the day before you dive and in the hours after you finish. There’s plenty of time after that to have those little umbrella drinks for the post-dive celebration.