Scuba diving is an exciting and rewarding activity, and many parents who are into the sport all hope to get their kids on board and share their hobbies with them. But is this really a good idea, especially at a young age? Well, many dive companies actually say that it’s okay to do so and even allow children as young as twelve or even eight to go scuba diving. However, as a parent, you’re most definitely concerned about your kids’ safety, which is of course very much understandable. You’ll be happy to know then that taking your kids scuba diving is generally safe, provided of course that certain rules and safety precautions are observed.
Teach Your Kids to Swim
Knowing how to swim isn’t necessarily required for adults who want to try scuba diving. Yes, when it comes to casual diving in a safe and controlled environment, exceptional swimming skills aren’t required for scuba diving. But then, knowing how to swim (even at the most basic level) will help make any scuba diving expedition much more enjoyable and safer. For those reasons, consider signing your kid up for swimming lessons before planning on taking your child scuba diving.
Knowing how to swim is an important skill for anyone who wants to take scuba diving as a lifelong hobby. And even kids who have no intention of going scuba diving should still learn how to swim considering that this skill can help avoid drowning incidents. Besides, when your kid knows how to swim, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your kid will be safe when playing near the pool or any other body of water. Plus, swimming makes for great exercise, too.
Sign Your Kid Up for Scuba Diving Lessons
There are scuba diving lessons available for kids nowadays, and if you’re planning on going on a diving expedition together you may want to consider signing them up for one. By doing so, they are more likely to feel comfortable being underwater by the time they go diving with you.
Scuba diving lessons for kids are not as technically difficult as the ones offered to adults. They cover pretty much the same things as knowing how to use a buoyancy compensator (BCD), reading scuba gauges, and others. Of course, basic concepts about ascending and descending correctly are also taught. These classes are generally held in swimming pools or other safe and controlled environments, so you can be sure that your kids are safe during the lessons.
Consider Children Scuba Diving Certification
So now that they know how to swim and have learned the basics of scuba diving, they are pretty much ready to hit the reefs and start their diving adventures. Although that’s about everything you need to get started, you may want to consider helping them get a scuba diving certification. Yes, there are scuba diving certification programs for children as young as ten years old, and some of them are even recognized anywhere in the world.
These certifications are not loosely given to any child who wants to scuba dive. Certain training and qualifications will be required, but they’re generally easy to complete. And when your kid gets certified, it will open up a whole new world of scuba diving for them. You’ll also feel much more at ease going diving with them because you know that they are now better divers (as proven by their certificate).
Get Them the Right Equipment
Many children who start scuba diving at a young age often end up becoming a lifelong advocate of the sport and everything that it stands for. When you see such potential in your kid, you’ll want to consider getting them their own diving equipment. There is plenty of scuba diving gear for kids available, and choosing the right ones is important because you don’t want to overspend on your purchase and you want to make sure the equipment fits them well. This is an important safety concern because the wrong and ill-fitting gear will not only make the dive uncomfortable but they can also come loose while you and your kid are underwater. That said, here are some of the basic scuba diving gear you should get your kid and some tips for finding the perfect fit.
- Scuba Mask. Your scuba mask will definitely not fit your kid and making them use it will only result in water entering the mask. So get them a mask that is designed specifically for children. While shopping, let your kid try the mask and ask them how it feels. Adjust the mask accordingly if it’s too tight or too loose, and be sure to ask if they’re comfortable in it.
- Buoyancy Compensator (BCD). For kids, it is often better to choose a wraparound BCD that is simple and user-friendly. Choose one that offers a snug fit and one that has several points of adjustment so they can continue using them as they grow bigger.
- Diving Wetsuit. Getting a diving wetsuit for your kid is also a must, and given the important role, it plays in keeping the wearer warm. Wetsuit manufacturers offer a variety of kid-sized wetsuits and the measurements and specifications are usually given on their websites or leaflets at the retail shop.
- Scuba Fins. When choosing scuba fins for your kids, look for one that has an open-heel design so that they can be adjusted to accommodate your kids’ growing feet. You’ll also want to look for ones that have flexible blades since this will be easier to kick with.
More Tips to Keep Your Kid Safe while Scuba Diving
Knowing how to swim and learning how to dive are the most important skills that your kid needs to learn if you want to take your child scuba diving. However, there are many other things you need to keep in mind to ensure your kids’ safety while diving.
- Never attempt deep dives with your kids regardless of how exciting it may seem. Avoid going on cave dives and shipwreck diving (no matter how shallow the area) as well. It is pretty easy to lose kids on such explorations, and not to mention the dangers posed by those jutting rock and protruding metals.
- Teach your kids the importance of having an adult dive buddy, and that they should never go scuba diving without the supervision of an adult.
- Get your kids involved when making the dive plan. Even if the dive is technically easy and suitable for children, you still need to have a dive plan. Besides, this is a good opportunity to educate children about how to make a dive plan and more importantly how to stick to it. Remember, always plan your dive and dive your plan, and the earlier kids learn this the better.
- Always check your kids’ diving equipment before diving. If your kid has undergone the certification training, they will have a good idea about how to check their own equipment. Nonetheless, you’ll want to double-check just to be sure. If you’re not sure if you’re doing this properly, ask for help from your diving instructor or guide.
- Talk to your pediatrician and make sure that your kids are physically healthy to go scuba diving. If your kids are under any form of medication, ask if the gasses inside the scuba tank will have any effect on their medication and overall health.
- Help your kids learn about the different dangers that they may encounter while diving. This includes identifying which fish, coral, and other marine flora and fauna they should never touch and avoid getting close to. In fact, teach your kids not to touch any marine wildlife while diving.
- If your kid doesn’t feel well, consider canceling your diving trip. Go to the nearest emergency room instead and have your kid checked. If it’s not too serious, consider a less strenuous activity like swimming by the beach or snorkeling.
- Never let your kids out of your sight while diving. Kids are curious by nature and they may unknowingly wander away from you and the rest of the dive group as they chase some colorful fish or be left behind admiring some corals.
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Taking your kid scuba diving is an experience like no other. Aside from being able to share your passion with them, it is also a perfect opportunity to create new and lasting moments together. However, like any other activity, taking your child scuba diving comes with some risks and dangers. But don’t let stop you from diving together. With a little preparation and by following the tips above, you can be assured of a safe and enjoyable dive that you and your kid won’t soon forget.
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