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Safety stops are an integral part of every safe scuba divers routine.

While they’re covered in open water and advanced courses, they can often be overlooked and not completely understood.

What are Safety Stops?

Safety stops typically take place around the 5-meter area (15ft) and are around 3 to 5-minute breaks divers take at the end of their dives.

They are by no means mandatory but are one of the most common components of any divers routine.

Scuba Safety Stop

Maintaining this exact level can be tricky for newer or even experienced divers, so it’s not uncommon to hold onto an anchor or line in the meantime.

Keep an eye on your depth gauge or dive computer to ensure you’re staying at the correct depth. Nearly every dive computer nowadays will assume a safety stop is being done.

Why do a Safety Stop?

Safety stops are an extra layer of conservatism that divers take to ensure the excess Nitrogen is completely off-gassed and dissolved from our bodies. These are especially important when divers are pushing their no-decompression limits.

nitrogen bubbles in joints

During this time, divers hang out reviewing their dive metrics and statistics.

Because there’s often not too much to do during this time, divers usually end up fooling around with gadgets and/or bubbles until the times up.

It’s also a great time to coordinate your ascent and journey to the boat if you’re diving from one. Also, divers take this time to navigate the surface for potential hazards or danger.

Scuba Safety Stop

Lastly, when the stop is complete make sure to follow the necessary ascent rate. This can vary anywhere between 10-18 meters per minute.

PADI published a great article going over the history of safety stops and how we began doing them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Vertical Or Horizontal During Safety Stops?

This is usually up to the divers to choose based on their personal preferences. Unless the dive conditions call for one of the other, it’s entirely up to you.

For example, if there’s a bunch of divers diving together crowded around an anchor line, it’s probably best to be horizontal as to not kick each other in the face!

Are Safety Stops Required If Nitrox Is Used

Absolutely! No matter your mix, safety stops are a valuable addition to any divers safety routine. Nitrox is no exception.

How Long Should Scuba Safety Stops Be?

The standard safety stop duration is between 3 to 5 minutes. But if you’d like to do longer there are no downsides provided your air consumption situation supports it.

What is the Best Depth For Safety Stops?

The standard depth for divers to do their safety stops is around 5 five meters or 15 feet. Depending on your dives’ conditions and plan, it’s possible you’ll have to do multiple safety stops.

If you’re diving with a charter or divemaster, this is all stuff you’ll cover in your pre-dive plan.

How Deep Can You Dive Without Safety Stops?

For any dive under 10 meters, you’d likely be completely fine without performing a safety stop. But why take risks you don’t have to! We get it, time’s valuable, but if there’s even a half percent risk of danger why risk it!


Now that you know what safety stops are, and why we do them, we ask you to think of us the next time you’re doing a safety stop!