Inflator valve stuck, causing rapid ascent


I usually dive using a BCD i purchased in 1993. A number of years ago I had just started a dive by descending to 85 fsw. I hit the inflator valve to give my BCD a small squirt of air. To my surprise, I started to ascend. I hit my dump valve, and copious quantities of air continued to stream out. My dive buddy saw what was happening and grabbed my fin as I was heading for the surface. He had to let go as we were both heading up. Then I realized that my inflator valve must have stuck open!! I quickly disconnected the inflator hose from my BC and dumped the excess air. I had popped up to about 65 fsw, before becoming neutral. Fortunately, I figured out the problem, fixed it, and was able to have a great dive using the oral inflator on my BCD. I have my equipment serviced regularly, but never thought much about the inflator valve on my BC.


This diver's quick reactions prevented a more serious situation developing. Orally inflating a BCD is a basic skill taught in open water diver courses and it is one of those rarely used skills DAN recommends everyone keep current, such as by orally inflating the BCD at the end of the dive, in the shallows for example, where the diver can stand up if they do not succeed on the first attempt. As this diver suggests, it is also worth including the BCD when having dive equipment serviced.

~ Peter Buzzacott, MPH, PhD

If you would like to report a diving incident or injury, click here.