It is a common sense Scuba Dive is a very safe activity, promotes well-being, its super fun and is the best way to see amazing creatures that most of the people you know will never be able to see it. However, this activity also can bring serious concern if safety procedures are not been taking seriously.
On this article we are going to share 15 Essential Tips that you can use before, during and after your dive to assure your safety and tons of happy diving days!!! Let´s go!!!
#1 – Make Sure You Have the Qualification and Skills to Perform the Dives
Most of the diving agencies require to show the proof of diving qualification for the type of diving that you are signing up, if you are PADI Diver, you can have the physical certification card, PADI E-cards or even you can simply tell your name and birth date to a PADI Shop and they will be able to find you at PADI Data Base. If you are diving in any other diving agency you should have the card or electronic card as a proof of certification.
Some other goes even further requesting to show some proof of performed dives, number of logged dives so they can have an idea about your skills, depth, time and air consumption, it helps the operators to understand if you have the minimum necessary to perform some specific types of dives or need some extra practice before that. So, prepare your skills, get your cards, e-cards and logbook if you are planning to do something out of the box!
#2 – Are You Fit To Dive?
If you are planning to take your first experience or a certification course you should have an medical examination and/or a doctor clearance in you country if you have something specific like allergies, asthma or a physical condition. You will be required to sign a medical statement before you jump in the water
If you are a certified diver, you should avoid dive if you are not one hundred percent. Keep yourself hydrated and the most important, do not dive if you have cold, flu and in particular a hangover, save some coins to get a party in the end of your trip and stay safe.
#3 – Travel Insurance and Diving Insurance
Most of the travelers have travel insurance when travelling to other countries, some of them have travel insurance when travelling on their own countries but the minority of the diver travelers are informed about what their insurance covers.
Its good to remember that not all the insurance covers land and inwater accidents. Make sure your insurance covers both above and below the surface and it is really recommend that in you insurance are explicitly saying Scuba Diving Activities are Included.
Its vital that your insurance covers both land and water accidents especially if you are diving in remote islands. Always carry with you your insurance policy number, emergency contacts and any medical information that must be necessary in a event of accident or medical emergency.
#4 – Choose a Proper Certified Company
Make sure to spend some time doing a research. It´s important to dive with liable companies that offers above anything safety. By saying that we mean, insurance, permits to operate, good quality of equipment, well maintained, if they have cars and boat that also should be in a great conditions, along with experienced staff and customer services. If you are not comfortable with English, check if they provide services in other languages too.
#5 – Check List, Check Gear and Double Check
It will be very disappoint to arrive on the diving destination or just about diving and realize that you forgot something important like, a diving computer or your diving mask for example.
You can start by making a check list of your gear and putting everything in the table, check one by one and make sure everything in the list is there. Organize in a way that you can reach them all easily.
Once you are on the way to dive you will need to set up your gear. Go slowly, assemble and check and do double check just to make sure everything is there and working properly. If there is something wrong or you are not sure, do not feel embarrassed – ask for help from your dive buddy, guide or instructor.
#6 – Gear checked! It´s briefing time!!
Once all the gear is ready, the boat will stop at the site and the guide or instructor will get the divers together for a dive briefing. It´s really important to pay attention on the instructions no matter how experienced or confident you are.
“Plan the Dive, Dive the Plan” is all you need to remember – The instructor you tell you the diving plan, advise you about marine life, what do you need to watch out for, maximum depth, dive time, ascending procedures, hand signal and other useful information that is requested for each dive site. Follow the rules and have fun!
#7 – Gear up! And Check Again!!! Do a Buddy Check!
Yes, maybe you are sure that your gear is fine, everything you need is there but always do a Buddy Check. It happen to forgot something essential, like open the tank valve or forgot your precious camera for example, maybe you will miss a photo of an amazing shark this time or someone will have a bad diving day.
If you don’t have your own buddy and met someone new in the boat, its a great opportunity to make a new friend, introduce yourself and check each others gear to make sure both will jump in the water without missing anything and have a great time!
#8 – The most Important Rule – Never Hold Your Breath
First of all, we are not suppose to be there, we are adapting everything to be able to breath underwater. The air we breath underwater is a dense and compressed air, which mean that the volume can change with more or less pressure. By holding your breath the air in your lungs could expand if the pressure reduces and that could lead to an Air Embolism (where an air bubble enters the bloodstream), which could lead to a severe injury in your lungs and could even be fatal. Remember, breath always and never hold your breath.
#9 – Descending – Equalize Your Ears Often and Early
As we start to descent and the water mass increase the pressure, you will start to feel some pressure in your ears, by blowing the air by your nose while pinching gentle, or moving you chin or swallowing you will be able to equalize the pressure in your inner ear.
You should repeat this process almost every meter during the descent, its better to do earlier because if the pressure increase too much you will feel pain and it will be difficult to equalize. If you can´t equalize do not keep going down, ascent a little bit until the discomfort disappear and try it again. If you can´t equalize at all you should stay in a shallow and comfortable area or interrupt the dive.
#10 – Check Again! Check Your Air Pressure Gauge Frequently
There is nothing more terrifying than to be not be able to breath. Check you Air Pressure Gauge is one of the most important thing to do during all your dive. You need to be aware of the air in your tank when its full, a quarter or on returning pressure to return to the surface accordingly.
Your guide or instructor will periodically ask you to check and show the pressure on your Gauge but your are ultimately responsible for your own air consumption, so check your gauge as much as possible and communicate with your buddy or instructor about the air available in your tank.
#11 – Dive Within The Limits Of Your Training And Skills
There is no reason to take the risk. Dive beyond the limits of your training and skills can put yourself in serious risk. If you are PADI Open Water Diver you can dive up to 18m/30ft and you should stay within this limit. Going deeper than this, more practice and training is requested since there are big changes or the atmospheric pressure, air consumption and nitrogen absorption.
On PADI Advanced Course you will learn how to perform deep dives up to 30m/100ft and some other skills to give a fine-tune on the basics skills like buoyance control. The PADI Deep Specialty Course you will be able to dive up to 40m/130ft (the limit depth for recreational dives) and gain more knowledge about risk management in deep water and emergency stops. You will learn different procedure to perform deep dives safely. Keep diving safely within the limits of your certification and keep learning to dive safely.
#12 – Avoid Over Exertion
Go slowly, reduce your movements and relax. Scuba Diving is a very sportive activity, especially if you are performing Shore Dives. There is no need to sprint underwater, as slow as you go, the more you will see. Avoid many movements will also make your air consumption more efficient since your body now is burning less oxygen. If for some reason you are feeling tired and hard to breath, signalize to your buddy, stop and hold somewhere and take a few deep and slow breaths and rest before keep going.
#13 – Don´t Touch and Don´t Chase Anything
For many reason you should avoid touching things underwater. First of all, we want to protect the reefs and the keep ocean the way it is without our interference so we can keep diving for many many years. Second, there things underwater that can seriously hurt you. Some corals are really sharp, some marine plants and animals are poisonous, some marine animals can bite you if they feel threatened. The best way to care of yourself is keeping your hands away from it and mastering buoyancy skills so you can hover close enough to check the bottom of the ocean without effort or touching anything.
#14 – S.A.F.E DIVE – Slow Ascent For Every Dive
As we mentioned before (#8) when the pressure reduce, the volume of the air tends to expand and for that reason you can´t hold your breath to avoid injuries in your lungs. The nitrogen also can expand inside your body, but as inert gas it can travels all over you body tissues. Going to the surface too fast can cause what we call as “The bends” or Decompression Sickness (DCS). By coming up slowly you can give time to your body to dissipate the exceeding amount of nitrogen in your body causing no harm.
#15 – Sharing is Caring
After dive if you are not feeling well you should share it your guide or instructor. Most of the time people feel tired because they are not used to the exertion of physical exercises. Let the your guide know how you are feeling.
So many tips share!
There are so many more tips to share so you can assure a perfect diving trip. But with the 15 essentials we are sure that you won´t miss anything. But remember, there are a few things to consider when you are planning to go a diving trip. Make sure your flight is at least 18 to 24 hours after your last dive, it is also a good chance to dry up your gear to avoid extra fees for carrying the ocean in your bag! LOL See yaaaaa!