You’ve completed at least your Open Water course, and maybe you’ve bagged some dives. Entry level courses teach us the basics but we can always learn more!
We dive because it enables us to temporarily become members of a fascinating, ethereal underwater world, allowing us to experience sensations and see amazing sites non-divers never do.
However, diving has its risks, which is also part of its appeal — the thrill of adventure and all that. The good news is you can minimize your risks by following some common sense guidelines.
It’s easy to get distracted underwater while you watch a reef shark or an eagle ray glide past, meanwhile your air supply is steadily depleting, possibly leaving you short for your ascent .
Or you just really want to see the underside of that sunken wreck, even though it’s 100’ down and you planned for 75’. Suddenly, you’re much deeper or farther away from your exit point than you meant to be and you’re low on air.
Stick to your plan.
Always discuss with your buddy your planned depth and time before you hit the water. If you’re diving with a new buddy, make sure you agree on hand signals before descending.
This elusive yet crucial skill is a key to safe and enjoyable diving. If you’re over-weighted, you might bonk onto the reef and destroy marine life as you struggle to pump air into your BC (which can chew up your air faster than you realize). Check out our earlier post for some buoyancy tips.
The riskier problem is if you’re struggling to ascend and you can’t — because you’re over-weighted and low on air.
Bodies of water are an ever-changing environment, so what may work in one environment or conditions may not work in another.
Use your safety stop to practice neutral buoyancy and learn to adjust for varying conditions such as colder water and a thicker wetsuit.
We cannot emphasize this enough. Exhale on descent and ascent – bubbles are your friends! Make sure you’re inhaling and exhaling consistently to avoid pulmonary baro-trauma — in other words, ensuring that gas doesn’t escape into your bloodstream and chest cavity and create embolisms which can be fatal.
This one is kind of a no-brainer but sometimes we can forget the basics such as knowing how to use or provide an alternative air source to a buddy. If you find yourself in an out-of-air situation and must do a Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent, it’s a fine line between a safe outcome and a dangerous one.
Check out this video from Dive Training Magazine for some advice:
We dive because it’s fun, exhilarating and interesting. If you find yourself in a situation where:
You’ve probably heard “dive within your limits” and it’s true. Even a dive site you dive one day can have different conditions the next, so it’s not only okay to opt out of a dive, it’s the wiser thing to do. Do yourself a favor and set your machismo (or machisma) aside so you’ll be around to do another dive at another time!
Consider taking more courses such as Advanced Open Water or a Rescue course and hone your skills.
Serving the north Dallas area, Scuba Toys offers year-round courses. Swing by our shop at 1609 S Interstate 35E, Carrollton, TX 75006, call (972) 820-7667 or visit us online to learn more!
Do you have any other suggestions you can share with our readers about becoming a safer diver? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/people/42507736@N02