Scuba diving is a popular adventure sport, enjoyed by many people around the world. However, when a person wants to go diving for the first time, they often have many fears roaming around their head. They find themselves in a completely different surrounding where a person relies on their equipment to breathe. The change in pressure, light, temperature as well as the presence of wildlife may cause discomfort. But if you follow the instructions on dive safety and behavior underwater while attending your course, there is no reason to be worried.
Of course, as with any other sport, some risk is involved. When compared to other sports, scuba diving is a low-risk activity. More injuries and fatalities occur in activities like jogging and swimming. That being said, new divers should respect the sport and fully commit to learning scuba diving safety procedures while in training before they go underwater.
Is diving safe?
Yes, diving is generally safe. According to the Divers Alert Network (DAN), diving fatality occurrence is 2 in every 100,000 participants. Compared to other sports, diving has fewer ER admissions than bowling, volleyball, or fishing for example. When we take a better look into those fatalities, almost half of them are caused by health-related events (cardiac most often), which mostly affect older divers. Besides pre-existing medical conditions, things that are the main causes of diver fatalities are poor buoyancy and rapid ascent. All three are avoidable if a diver is honest and pays attention to training. Most diving schools offer questionnaires to fill out with information regarding your health. They also teach you how to descend and ascend, as well as maintain buoyancy to avoid decompression sickness.
A common fear among new divers is interaction with wildlife. Almost everyone is scared of sharks, and many other creatures that live underwater. Luckily, shark-related incidents are not as common as movies make us believe. More people get killed every year by dogs, snakes, horses, and hippos. A safety tip when underwater is – try not to touch anything. By doing this you’re not just protecting the marine life (coral reefs for example), you are also protecting yourself. Corals can be sharp, plants can be poisonous and creatures can bite you if they feel they are in danger.
Another common concern is equipment. People often fear running out of air underwater, which creates a claustrophobic feeling. You have no reason to worry about this since diving schools give you tanks with more than enough oxygen to cover your entire dive. They also teach you how to breathe underwater and how to check gauges which tell you how much air you have in your tank, and how deep you are currently. One of the most important things is to plan your dive properly, and not to panic and burst to the surface since that can cause serious injury.
How to prepare for a dive?
We have mentioned several times that good training is crucial for successful and enjoyable diving. This begins by attending a certified course. There are many courses available ranging from beginners to experts. Make sure to find a qualified scuba instructor who can guide you along the process of acquiring your own certification card. Three agencies give out cards, and these are the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), and Scuba Schools International (SSI).
If you’ve never dived before, it is very important to have a medical examination beforehand. If you have no health issues, there should be no problems of that nature underwater. Beginners courses involve classroom lessons, training in pools, and open-water lessons. You will learn many things about scuba diving safety, like how to use diving equipment, how to identify risks, and how to solve problems that may occur. After that, when you have your own certification card which you can use to rent equipment, refill your air tanks, and dive unsupervised.
No matter how experienced you are, always pay attention before a dive. Check your equipment thoroughly, you don’t want problems coming up underwater. Also, listen to dive safety briefings. You shouldn’t make assumptions about what a divemaster is going to tell you. Many of your concerns will be resolved by listening. You will find out where you are going, what route you will be taking, and what you need to watch out for. Communication is very important before and while diving and may prevent some very unpleasant situations.
It is important to have a good dive plan and to stick to it. Most diving agencies recommend that you have a diving buddy with you on every dive. That way you can communicate unforeseen problems to each other, and help one another if there’s a need. Make sure to get to know your buddy and to understand the signals you give to each other.
Dive safety tips while underwater
These are things that are mentioned in training, and should always be kept in mind while scuba diving. If at any moment you feel strange while underwater let others know immediately and start the appropriate procedure for that situation.
Finding yourself underwater is very exciting. It is important to never hold your breath underwater. This can cause air bubbles in your bloodstream which can lead to serious injury.
Be aware of yourself and others
Always keep an eye on the location of your guide and your diving buddy. Don’t stray away from the planned diving route because you can lose your orientation. If that happens, you and they should both slowly ascend to the surface.
Equalize pressure in your ears
You should do this frequently as you descend. The change in pressure can cause pain in your ears, so you should equalize often before this happens to avoid injury to your inner ear. This is done by yawning, swallowing, or blowing gently with your mouth and nose closed, as you were instructed in your diving course.
Don’t exceed your limits
Listen to your body and instructions given and don’t descend under specified depth. Check your computer often to see how much time you have at a specified depth. The limit for recreational scuba divers is 40 meters, so make sure not to go deeper. It is also the maximum depth covered by scuba insurance.
Always keep an eye on your gauge
Your guide will remind you to check your oxygen levels from time to time, but that is your responsibility. Plan the air in your tank so you have enough left to slowly and safely get back to the surface.
Don’t exert yourself too much
A diver should be relaxed underwater. You gain nothing by moving fast. In fact, you will see more things if you move slowly. Also, you can lose your breath which is not fun. If that happens, signal your buddy and find a coral-free rock to hang on to and rest.
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As discussed, scuba diving is a fantastic sport that is pretty safe. That being said, it all comes down to preparation and training. As with other adrenaline sports, divers should be aware of what they might encounter and how to act in that situation. We know that it can be frightening in the beginning, but if you prepare yourself, your equipment and find a reliable buddy, you are going to have yourself an amazing time!