Scuba divers are at risk of injury from wildlife, equipment failure and human error every time they get in the water. At the same time, scuba diving is rewarding and worth pursuing. Knowing how to take care of yourself in the water can make scuba diving safe and enjoyable.
If you follow some basic scuba diving safety rules, it should help make sure all your dives are safe ones. After all, we dive for fun and we don’t want that to stop. So try and follow these so you will have a long and enjoyable diving career.
Get proper training
Having proper training will make you much more comfortable underwater and that is key to having a safe dive. Getting certified is a big first step. Being scuba dive certified isn’t always necessary when scuba diving on vacation, but being certified is definitely safer. A scuba dive certification will ensure that you are armed with the knowledge required to operate your equipment and get out of a dangerous situation.If you dive after taking a resort course just make sure you don’t go too deep . Some resorts are known to be very lax on this rule and it is to your detriment. If you go diving in caves, caverns, wrecks, etc. have the proper training for this type of dive. Don’t dive beyond your ability.
Don’t hold your breath
Remember to always breathe slowly and in a relaxed manner and to exhale fully. Don’t take short, shallow breathes and never hold your breath. Holding your breath underwater can lead to lung injuries and worse, in the extreme case.
Being relaxed and comfortable underwater is key to a successful dive. If something happens, stop, breathe, think and act. Do not panic and rush to the surface (I know it is easier said than done). But observing this scuba diving safety rule could be key to a safe dive.
Check your equipment
You don’t want to find out the scuba regulator doesn’t work once you are underwater. Checking equipment is especially important if you are renting. If you own your regulator and haven’t dove in a while, it should also be serviced to make sure it is working properly. Do a check of the regulator hoses also. Check it before each time you go and make sure that all straps are secure (so they don’t get tangled in either you or anything under the water). It should also fit properly for safety and comfort purposes.
Never dive alone
One of the key scuba diving safety rules. Always dive with a buddy no matter where you are. Always dive with someone. Having a dive buddy means that there is someone else looking out for you and that you’ll have some help in the event something goes wrong. And when you do dive with a buddy, keep an eye on him/her to make sure everything is OK (and hopefully they are doing the same). If something happens, that buddy can be the difference between life and death. Never violate this rule. Also do a pre-dive equipment check with your buddy.
Having a reliable air supply is vital to diving.
Be certain that you are able to read your equipment so that you know when it is time to head back to the surface (you should be doing this by 500 p.s.i.). Coming back up at the appropriate time will keep you from ascending too quickly. Ascending too quickly can be serious to your health and possibly even fatal. If you do find that you have ascended too quickly you’ll have to go to a decompression chamber.
Never hold your breath when scuba diving. Holding your breath underwater can lead to lung injury.
Another one of the key scuba diving safety rules. As you ascend you are ridding your body of nitrogen in your tissues and bloodstream. If you ascend too quickly, you risk “the bends” or decompression sickness. You should not ascend more than 30 feet per minute. And always do a safety stop at 15 feet for at least 3 minutes after deeper dives. After your safety stop, do not propel yourself to the surface either. Ascend that last 15 feet very slowly .
As you ascend keep your eyes out for boats that may be approaching. When you do surface, do so a little ways away from the dive boat and only swim toward it when you are sure that it isn’t moving and that somebody on the boat sees you.
Obviously you don’t want your judgment or abilities to be impaired, but drinking can also cause you to dehydrate quickly. You should also drink plenty of water before and after scuba diving.
Though most dives go smoothly and without incident, minor problems while scuba diving sometimes occur. Skills for solving problems while diving are taught at all levels of certification. Anticipating a problem is the first step in solving it. The best method of solving problems is to stop, think, breath and then act. When a diver learns this basic principle they can usually solve minor problems underwater without having to come to the surface or abort the dive. If they remain focused and refuse to give up, they have a chance of solving more serious problems.
Another great method of problem solving is to use the “what if” method. Divers will think of different situations like equipment failure, out of air/low on air problems or losing their dive buddy. They picture the situation in their mind and picture how they would respond. If they do this enough problem solving becomes a reaction that they do not have to think about. Good problem solving skills will help divers keep minor problems from turning into big ones. These skills will also help divers not to panic underwater. They are able to stay calm and deal with the problem. Safety for scuba diving is a combination of safe diving practices, good problem solving skills and common sense. These three things are necessary to minimize the chance of a problem or incident happening during a dive.
Plan your dive and dive your plan
You will hear this in your training (or you should) and you should follow this advice. Prior to going under, you and your buddy should know the max depth you will go, the amount of bottom time you’ll have and how much air you will start to ascend with. Check your air supply often. You should also agree on the hand signals you will use to communicate underwater. Before you scuba dive, check the weather report. Conditions can change quickly, and being caught in a storm is less than desirable.
To reduce the likelihood of problems occurring divers should never dive without proper preparation. PADI sums these scuba diving safety tips up in their Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding.
- Be familiar with dive sites or dive with a dive guide.
- Use complete, well maintained, reliable equipment that is familiar.
- Listen carefully to dive briefings and directions by the dive staff.
- Always follow the buddy system. Plan dives and dive with a buddy.
- Know how to use dive tables. Make all dives no-decompression dives. Be a safe diver. Slowly Ascend From Every Dive.
- Maintain proper buoyancy. Neutral buoyancy underwater, positive buoyancy at the surface.
- Never breath-hold or skip-breath while breathing compressed air.
- Use a boat, float or other surface support device whenever possible.
- Know and obey local dive laws and regulations.
- Learn the importance of knowing your personal diving limits.
Divers Alert Network (DAN) has a similar scuba diving safety list. They call their list S.A.F.E.D.I.V.E.
- Diving skills
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if you follow these scuba diving safety rules, you greatly increase your chance of a safe and incident free dive. Your safety while diving depends on the decisions you make. These decisions are based on your training level, your personal diving experience, your circumstances while diving and current safe diving practices. There is no such thing as a safe dive, only safe divers. Be a smart diver by being a safe diver. Safe divers make scuba diving safe.