It may look all fun and games but it’s not.
Scuba diving is a sport where you dive deep underwater and rely on your gear and equipment as your oxygen for the whole dive. Humans weren’t made to swim deep for hours on end. When you’re freediving, you can only hold your breath for four to five minutes and you already have to ascend for air. But thanks to scuba diving founded by Jacques Costeau and Emile Gagnan, it’s possible for humans to last underwater for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
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Scuba divers showing OK signal underwater[/caption]
But since it’s an extreme sport that can lead to death if not practiced correctly, there are very important safety rules that scuba divers must not forget and have to follow at all times. We list them down here:
1. Never hold your breath.
You are scuba diving and not freediving. There’s a reason why you have an oxygen tank strapped to your body. It’s going to be your main supply of air so you don’t need to hold your breath like you do when you’re freediving. If you hold your breath, it can damage your lungs because of lung over-expansion.
In scuba diving, the air inside your lungs contracts when you’re going down and it expands when you’re going up.
2. Do not dive without a buddy.
This is a golden rule in scuba diving. You should never dive without a buddy. This is for your protection and for your buddy as well. Equipment is safe but it’s still not foolproof so you need to have another person with you during the dive. You can’t control the environment as well. You are underwater where you can’t breathe without your aqualung and you don’t know what creatures you’ll be encountering during your dive. While the sea is safe, if you are a newbie in diving, you might not know exactly what to do with different types of sea creature encounters. The buddy system is especially more important for those who are just beginning to scuba dive.
There are cases when you can lose air. With a buddy around, they can offer you their alternative air supply or help you ascend safely to the surface. Your buddy helps you to not ascend quickly as you might suffer from decompression sickness if you do so.
3. Ascend safely after every dive.
We couldn’t stress enough the importance of ascending at a slow and safe rate. Even if you are very deep underwater, you still need to ascend slowly because every dive is a decompression dive. What does that mean? Your body must be given the time to decompress slowly from your depth up to the surface.
If you can, you may use a dive computer during your dives. You will be equipped anyway with a built-in ascent rate monitor that you have to check so that you can safely ascent. There are instances though that your dive computer might fail so you could use that of your buddy’s if they have one. You can also ascent along with your divemaster when you’re diving with a group. You can also opt to follow your smallest regulator exhaust bubbles.
4. Do safety stops at every five to six meters.
So you are ascending safely which is great news! On top of it, another safety measure you can do is to stop at every five to six meters or 16 to 20 feet. This gives additional time for your body to take out the excess nitrogen. It forces you to even ascend more slowly which helps in reducing your chances of suffering from decompression sickness.
5. Plan your dive and dive the plan.
Another way to be safe underwater is to have a plan before you go deep down your dive. If you are joining a group, the dive might already be planned for you. Whatever situation you find yourself in, you should always stick to the plan. You need to pay close attention during the briefing before you start the diving session.
A plan would include what your maximum depth will be as well as the dive time or how long you will be staying underwater. This is for you, your group, and your boatman. If you do not stick to this plan, things can take a turn for the worse, not only for you but also for your dive buddy.
Your plan must also include emergency procedures when you lose sight of someone. Have an agreement on what you will do if you get separated from your diving buddy. After you search for your buddy quickly and you still don’t see him or her, go up immediately. It’s never advisable to continue diving when you and your dive buddy get separated underwater.
Although mostly universal, here are some hand signals that vary depending on where you are diving or the nationality of your buddy so review before diving. Make sure you are using the same hand signals for the message that you are relaying.
6. Check your air content gauge regularly.
Your lifeblood is your oxygen tank underwater. You need to check your air contents gauge from time to time. Some divers even have a set schedule on when they would check their gauge. The rule of thumb is that you must check your gauge much more frequently if you are diving deeper. At 10 meters, they check their air every 15 to 20 minutes. For 15 to 20 meters, the air is checked every 10 to 12 minutes. At 24 to 30 meters, air must be checked every 5 to 8 minutes. At 33 to 40 meters, you should check your air every 3 to 4 minutes.
If you feel that you are not fit to dive on your diving day, don’t proceed! The underwater is very tempting, yes, but it can be very dangerous if you are diving with a cold or if your nose or ears are congested. If you are feeling any doubt, you should always consult your doctor first.
And of course, know your limits. It’s fun to explore but if you can’t handle it anymore or you’re not at that expert phase just yet, do not dive beyond your limitations.
Additional reminder: Take care of your gear by storing them in a storage chest or plastic containers in your garage. Have space for them by using smart storage solutions such as overhead storage racks and wall shelves to maximize the storage capacity of your garage.