Any time you jump into the open water, whether its a fresh water lake in the UK or tropical seas abroad, you know you’re taking a risk. Well all sensible divers aspire to minimise the risks involved when entering the depths of the sub-aqua world and we at Waterfront Scuba have compiled our best suggestions to stay safe during your adventures.
1. Keep up your Skills
It’s one thing to pass your next qualification, but it’s something else entirely when you work to uphold the skills you have learnt. Should you ever be in the situation where you need to remove and replace your mask at depth, or recover your regulator, then the more practice you have the better! Not only will you become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses but also you will learn not to panic in a situation that doesn’t go as planned.
2. Dive with a regular Buddy
Diving with a regular partner can greatly improve your safety under water. A regular buddy or group of buddies in a club will learn about your skills and your abilities under water and will be able to understand better than any one else could how you react in certain situations. Diving with someone you have spent a lot of time with both in and out of the water means they are more aware of you and your skillset than many other people would be. Should something go wrong, they know exactly how you will react and put faith in you as you do in them.
3. Plan your dive, Dive your plan
Diving to a plan is one of the first things you would have been taught in your PADI Open Water course and yet it is one thing many divers neglect. Having a plan means that not only do both you and your buddy know each others intentions but it also means that other party members on the surface will know where you should surface and how long you should be under for. Knowing all of this means that should something go wrong, everyone is more aware of what might happen.
4. Speak to others
There is a lot to be learnt from fellow divers – and not only instructors and Dive masters. Everyone will have a different approach to diving and different tips and tricks they have picked up throughout their time diving. Other people will have different ways of setting up their kit that you might prefer to your current set up, or they might have tips on how to react in an emergency situation. Knowledge can be a powerful thing and when diving, knowing exactly how to react could just save your life.
5. Back up situations
Carrying back up equipment is without a doubt one of the best things you can do to prevent an emergency situation. Having a back up torch for when your main gives up inside a wreck means you will be able to find your way out safely, carrying a redundancy cylinder/stage gives you extra breathing gas (whether it’s air, nitrox, trimix or heliox) which might just prevent you from panicking in the event of a free flow. Having back ups of anything you can is a rule for most seasoned divers, and some clubs such as us at Waterfront, actively promote the use of a redundancy stage in the case of an emergency.
6. Confidence is key, but respect the elements
There is such as thing as being ‘too confident’. Jumping into the open seas with a maverick attitude is one of the main causes of scuba diving related incidents – but that’s not to say confidence is a bad thing. Being confident in the water can not only make way for a much more enjoyable dive, but can also put those more nervous at ease. Being confident can only come through thorough practice, as well as knowing what to do if things go wrong, just remember though that water is a powerful force and can be very unpredictable so show it some respect.
7. Check Dives
Making a check dive whilst on a dive holiday can be extremely beneficial. Check dives give you the chance to get in the water and take in the wondrous sights but at a shallow depth where you can adjust your kit as needed, to gather your orientation of the waters and to find neutral buoyancy. Having done all of this on your first dive means that you are more prepared and acclimatised when you undertake your following dives.
8. Find your buoyancy
Attaining peak performance buoyancy can not only make you more relaxed and comfortable under water, it also means that you’ll be using less air as your not constantly adjusting your BCD/Drysuit.
It also means that should an emergency situation arise, you are more able to react swiftly and effectively compared to how you would if you were positively or negatively buoyant.
9. Log your experiences
Every good diver keeps a log book of their dives. Each dive is a different dive and over time you learn from your experience – what went wrong, what could have been done better and what was good.
Being able to reflect back on your experiences accurately means that you can draw on your good dives and re-enact what happened on that dive. Alternatively if a dive didn’t go too well, you can look back and assess the areas that had room for improvement.
10. Have Fun!
Having fun is possibly the most important of all these points – when you enjoy diving you naturally become less nervous anxious, while replacing these feelings with positivity and confidence. All divers enter the water for their own personal reasons, for some it is a challenge they want to overcome, while for others it’s the adventure into the unknown. Either way, having fun makes it easier for you to reach your goals and be safer in the process.
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