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Reef Report for Thursday, August 19, 2004

Flying After Diving
An important part of your itinerary planning.

Given how many amazing things there are to do in this region, itís tempting to jam as many dives and other activities into your visit. As you plan your itinerary itís important that you consider the interval between your last scuba dive and your airline flight out of the region.

It is important to plan an adequate length of time between your last dive and your homeward flight. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises The last thing you want to do on a Great Barrier Reef holiday is end up with Decompression Sickness.

On a commercial airline flight you go from an air pressure of sea level to something equivalent to the air pressure of 8,000 feet altitude. If you have been diving too recently air bubbles can form in your bloodstream, just as can happen if scuba divers exceed the decompression limits during their diving.

In 2002, the recommended time intervals between diving and commercial air flights were extended, and if your dive manual is older than that you should be aware of these new recommendations. They apply to air dives followed by flights at cabin altitudes of 2,000 to 8,000 feet (610 to 2,438 meters) for divers who do not have symptoms of decompression sickness (DCS). The recommended preflight surface intervals do not guarantee avoidance of DCS. Longer surface intervals will reduce DCS risk further.

-For a single no-decompression dive, a minimum preflight surface interval of 18 hours is suggested.

-For multiple dives per day or multiple days of diving, a minimum preflight surface interval of 18 hours is suggested.

-For dives requiring decompression stops, there is little evidence on which to base a recommendation and a preflight surface interval substantially longer than 18 hours appears prudent.

A few of the dive trips in the area include a flight back to Cairns at the end of the boat trip. In these cases the charter aircraft used maintains a low-altitude flight plan, and the dive operator has carefully planned the itinerary to assure that a suitable time interval between diving and the flight is planned into the dive trip itinerary.

More information: (Two excellent online Dive Medicine Resources)

Divers Alert Network (DAN)

Diving Medicine Online

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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