Does your gas always run out faster than that of other divers in your crew? Do you sometimes find yourself ending the dive and coming out of the waters before others? What is the problem and how can you rectify it?
Well, you can start by not beating yourself up about it. Some people just have a slower metabolism, so they definitely use less oxygen. Also, divers with a small body size use less energy to propel themselves forward hence they use less oxygen than those with larger bodies. We are all created and gifted differently and you just might not be the stingiest gas sipper in the group.
Many beginner scuba divers face a similar problem too during their first dives. But does it mean they aren’t physically fit? Not necessarily! Sometimes they are just nervous, which increases their breathing and hence go through their gas cylinders much quickly.
But did you know it’s possible for you to reduce your air consumption and prolong your underwater adventure? Our kickass tips to save air when diving will show you how. But first things first, let’s look at some of the reasons why you may be frequently running out of gas.
- Diving deeper than necessary: The deeper you go, the more air you consume. Depleting your air at depth forces you to make an emergency ascent, which could be hazardous as you could easily lose consciousness along the way.
- Working your muscles harder than usual: Fighting the water can easily deplete your tank because your body is using more energy than usual. Not only that. Descending to the bottom at a faster pace could actually speed up your air consumption up to 20 times.
- Not checking your air supply: Sometimes the thrill of being under water easily gets divers forgetting that they are in an environment that is not their own. Just don’t be one of those who forget checking their pressure gauges. Trust us, the last thing you need is to be gasping for air in front of a shark!
- Anxiety: Being nervous can dwindle your gas supplies faster than a strenuous exercise.
Now that you probably have an idea of what causes that our-of-air emergency, let’s get down to how you can make your gas last longer and spend a little more time under the ocean. Ready?
1. Take Deep And Slow Breaths
Of all the tips to save air when diving, inhaling deeply and slowly is the most important. If this is the first time you are taking an adventure under the water, you are likely to be distracted by all the wonders of this new world.
Maybe you only read about those ancient under the sea caves but now they are staring right at you. The other day your dive buddy mentioned this treasure hunting spot and it’s like you just bumped on it! You are now excited because you have finally found out that such amazing sites actually exist.
But wait. Just don’t take your thrill overboard as this might increase your breathing. If you notice you are inhaling faster than usual, try to slow it down. Breathe in deeply and slowly making a count of 5 to 6 seconds and out with a count of 7 to 8.
If excitement or anxiety sends your breathing into an overdrive in normal life, we recommend practicing deep and slow breaths before hitting the waters. You can try a few yoga poses while still above the surface to improve your breathing and train your mind to inhale this way even when under the sea.
Taking short, shallow breaths will not supply enough oxygen into your blood. You will just be pulling air out of your tank but it’s not being taken to your body, so technically you are just wasting it.
Long and deep breathes fill your lungs completely and expel a huge quantity of carbon (IV) oxide with each breath. They also extend the time between breaths and conserve a lot of air in your tank.
2. Seek Training And Dive More Frequently
Unskilled scuba divers are known to deplete their air at a fierce rate. One of the reasons why this happens is anxiety. Well, it’s normal and it’s also normal that their bodies raise the divers’ metabolisms, heart rates, and breathing rates to respond to danger. But even though the divers are prepared for flight and fight, their body takes in too much air that just ends up getting dumped into the sea.
If you are a rookie diver, do whatever it takes to feel more accomplished while under the waters. Take diving classes. Go for diving trips more often even when you feel not up to the task and most importantly get yourself acquainted with diving safety tips. This will help you feel more comfortable under the waters and will definitely enable you to conserve more air.
Knowing what to do and exactly when to do it makes you less nervous when making your moves below the waters. The fact that you are more confident allows you to pull even the most challenging stunts without affecting your breathing. Controlled inhalation and exhalation ensures that your lungs takes in only what is needed and minimizes wastage of your valuable gas.
3. Perfect Your Buoyancy
Have you ever been in a position where you are struggling to descend into the water or come back to the surface? Quite frustrating, isn’t?
If you are not able to maintain control of your buoyancy, you will end up using so much energy on your dive. You will be kicking your fins vigorously either to prevent yourself from hitting the bottom or even worse, sinking to oblivion. Alternatively, you will be over-buoyant, so you will be struggling to stay down to avoid floating on the water.
Both of these situations are not only disappointing but also energy zapping. This only means one thing – you will be consuming more air to keep up with the energy demand. By the time you realize it, your air supply will be almost depleted. So getting your buoyancy right is also an important point that can’t be left out in our tips to save air when diving.
4. Keep Warm
There is a high possibility that you will be submerged in water that is obviously colder than your body temperature so make sure your gear is right for the conditions. Get a wetsuit thick enough to keep yourself warm. If you are diving in really cold waters, you may consider bringing a drysuit too, just to make sure that the frozen water doesn’t get to your skin. A pair of gloves will also be a good companion if you don’t want your hands to go numb.
What we are simply saying is that your body should never be put in a position where it has to work extra hard to generate warmth. Cold water draws considerable amount of heat out of your body and your metabolism has to look for ways to replace the lost heat. Thus, it has to break down the stored fats to release energy that is then converted to heat. The whole process uses oxygen, which means you will soon run out of air.
It therefore makes sense that if you wear the right protection, you will keep your body warm, use less energy and obviously conserve more oxygen.
5. Streamline Your Gear And Moves
Ever wondered why these fish that swim so fast have flawless skins with almost no protuberances? The reason is to minimize drag. Their bodies are made this way to ensure that less energy is utilized during the swim and hence more air is saved.
Anything that prevents water from flowing smoothly past your body causes drag, forces your muscles to use more energy, and consumes more oxygen. Of course, bringing enough equipment for the dive is imperative but making sure that nothing protrudes from your wetsuit more than necessary is equally important.
Try as much as possible to emulate the fish. Dodge things you don’t need during the descent. You are sure that you are not going to use the flashlight, for instance, don’t bring it.
If you think an item is really important for this day, stash it in your pocket instead of sticking it on your D-ring. Remove that snorkel from the mask and tie it around your leg. Alternatively, get a foldable one that can easily fit into your pocket.
While at it, keep your legs straight and as close to each other as possible. Your arms too should be close to your body. You can cross them in front of you or tuck them in and to your chest. Just don’t keep them splayed everywhere!
In simpler terms, make your surface as streamlined as possible. You will be surprised to see how easier it gets to swim through and how much you save in the long run.
6. Don’t Dive Too Deep
It’s physics again guys! Pressure increases with depth. You want to be the first diver to discover the caves of a certain ancient god believed to live at the deepest end of the sea, we get that! Just make sure you don’t end up unconscious down there.
Theoretically, the deeper you dive, the more pressure is exerted on your body and on your scuba tank. Your regulator therefore has to supply gas at the same pressure as that exerted by the water. As a result, your gas runs out faster.
Unfortunately, you can’t change science neither can you go against nature. The only thing you can do to conserve air is to avoid going deeper than you need to be. So if there is something to explore at the 15 feet mark, then you will definitely save more air than when finding treasure at 40 feet. Remaining at shallow depths also enables you to get to the surface quickly in the event of an emergency.
Even then, it is important to keep monitoring your tank pressure. Eventually, you will exhaust your gas supply. But knowing beforehand the pressure at which you should start ascending will help you reach the surface in good time.
7. Fix Leaks
Even the tiniest bubbles from the inflator swivel or O-ring can be a sign of some serious trouble ahead. But your eyes are not located in the back so how are you going to know if your gas is leaking or not? Well, that’s why we always insist on keeping a buddy at your side on such trips. Ask them to look behind you just to be sure of the status of your air supply.
Also, if your mask doesn’t seal properly and every time you have to blow air into it to remove the water that has already sneaked in, you are likely to run out of gas quickly. Such a mask will also get you unnecessary stress and nervousness, which needless to say, increases your breathing rate.
To make sure that your diving gear doesn’t leak, service it regularly. Check your inflator, O-rings, and all connections. Are they tight enough? Your BCD too should be rinsed after every dive to make it more durable.
8. Sleep And Relax More
Rest well before your dive day because if you hit the waters already tired, you will be forcing your body to work harder to propel you forward. As a result, you breathe harder and soon you will find yourself abandoning the dive because you don’t have enough gas to sustain you down there.
Also, make sure you are sober enough for the task ahead of you. Skip that late night party if you must. You really don’t want a hangover on this day.
Your mind needs to be alert and present when exploring the underwater world. Only then you will be able to maintain buoyancy and even better capture those sea animals on flick without getting nervous.
9. Arrive Early
You are the last person to get to the boat. You are now rushing to get your dive equipment on board and this hard look of other crewmembers who arrived on time is making you restless. Take a deep breath and calm down. You are giving yourself unnecessary mental stress, which is not good for the dive.
It is important that you arrive early so that you can join others at the dive briefing, have ample time to organize your gear, and get a chance to calm yourself down before jumping into the waters. This will make you feel more relaxed and confident, you will be able to control your breathing, and most importantly, you will conserve your air.
10. Take Everything Slowly
Water is denser than air and it is important that you slow your movements when you are down there. By now you know the drill – the slower you move the less energy you spend.
Swim slowly. Turn slowly. Move slowly.
Want to see what time it is so you can start getting back to the surface? Move your wrist slowly. Checking your dive computer? Do so slowly!
Taking things slow saves you a lot of energy and as a result, your air gets to last longer.
Things You Should Know Before Going Underwater
One of the biggest challenges divers face is running out of gas and this can be solved easily using the above tips to save air when diving. However, there are some things that new divers need to know before jumping into the sea. (Even your dive buddy won’t tell you these…)
- If you have to make an emergency ascent, do it slowly. Ensure that the pressure of the waters doesn’t interfere with how you breathe, as this will end up wasting air, which might even deplete it before you reach on the surface.
- Keep your teeth in good shape. If you have a filling and a tooth has decayed below it, air can lock itself into that space and during depression, your tooth could be blown off.
- No matter how brave you think you are, your first encounter with a shark will get you crapping your pants!
- If you can’t hold the call of nature, you will be letting it go in your wetsuit.
- Death is never far away. If you exhaust your air when you are down there and get unconscious, things would be very ugly for you if you don’t have a buddy.
Globo Surf Overview
Excessive consumption of air while underwater can be caused by a number of things. There are those that we can fix and those that we cannot. The most common tips to save air when diving include controlling your breath, moving slowly, maintaining your buoyancy, and streamlining your moves. These alone will reduce the amount of energy needed to push you through the waters which in return will minimize the amount of air you use during the dive.
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- First Time Scuba Diving