Tuesday January 28 2020
October 15, 2013

10 Golden Rules of Scuba Diving

Scuba diving has some potential risks just like every other outdoor activity does. However, these risks can easily be minimized by obeying a couple of rules. DiveWithSeaman.com already has a “Rules For Diving” page but here in this post, I wanted to give the most important rules one by one which will increase the safety and comfort of your dives starting right after you finish reading. Here are 10 golden rules of scuba diving that will increase the safety, quality and pleasure of your dives while decreasing the anxiety under the water. 

1- Always Perform a Safety Stop

After every dive that is deeper than 10 meters, don’t forget your safety stop. Wait at 5 meters (not in every 5 meters, only AT 5 meters) for 3 minutes. This will help you:

  • Reduce the amount of nitrogen in your veins and tissues by exhaling during this period. As you already know, pressure change between 1o meters and the surface is 100%. By waiting at 5 meters, your body is adapting this sharp pressure change.
  • Adjust your gear before surfacing.

2- Watch Your Ascend Rate

Don’t ascend faster than 9 meters(30 feet)/minute. This means that if you are a Open Water Diver and dove to 18 meters, your ascend time should be 2 minutes at least. It can be better more than that. Faster ascend rate may result in decompression sickness.

3- Always Dive With a Buddy

Always dive in pairs to reduce risk. I know that there is a term “solo diving” for experienced divers, but I personally don’t advise you to dive alone. I have more than 4000 dives and 17 years of experience but I never ever dive alone. That’s because every situation while having a buddy can easily by fixed whereas if you are alone, it may have unwanted results. Think about cramps, out-of-air situations (okay, an experienced diver can look at his/her pressure gauge, but think about rare equipment failures resulting this) and nitrogen narcosis? Have a responsible dive buddy in your every dive.

4- Never Exceed the Dive Limits

There are certain limits for every depth. According to SSI Dive Table, a diver should stay no more than 50 minutes in 18 meters. After the 51st minute, diver is under the risk of decompression sickness. Always watch your dive computer and the dive tables.

Don’t even approach to these limits (called No-Decompression Limits) on the tables and the dive computers. If you dive computer tells you that you can stay at your current dive for another 10 minutes, ascend a little bit after 5-6 minutes.

5- Show Respect to the Marine Life

Underwater life was always there even before we, human-beings have started to exist. Divers are nothing more than a guest under the water. We are already mass destructing the underwater creatures by over-fishing and entertaining (please watch The Cove (2009) for having a better understanding of how we affect these creatures for entertainment).

If you don’t care about the underwater life, you still have to show respect to the marine life for your own safety and your equipment. Secure your hose by using clips. This will prevent your equipment (alternate air source, for example) to hit the rocks and etc.

Don’t try to feed the animals. A Moray Eel, for example, can harm you unconsciously while trying to feed it.

6- Always Perform Continuous Breathing

Go on breathing continuously just like you do right now reading this article. Holding your breath especially during an ascend will rupture your lungs due to the increased volume of air in your lungs. Golden rule of scuba diving:


Read my “Best Breathing Technique While Scuba Diving” article.

7- Check Your Air Pressure

In every 5 minutes, look at your pressure gauge. This should become a habit in all your dives. Don’t overcome by languor if you are an experienced diver, even if a dive professional. A sudden equipment failure may go unnoticed during a dive and make you out-of-air. Everything is not related to our experience.

Dive deeper, check more frequently. You’ll breath denser air at 30 meters than you do in 15 meters. So, you should increase the frequency of your checks when you dive deeper.

8-Take Good Care Before Dives

This point is often underestimated. “Getting drunk, sleeping less and surfing more!” is only a Hollywood stuff. Sleep for 8 hours, don’t consume alcohol starting from the night, previous to diving. Alcohol and sleeplessness will increase the chance of decompression sickness.

After you wake up, remember that a good dive day starts with a good breakfast. Eat light food before you dive but never dive hungry. This will disturb you and result in nausea and headache.

9-Avoid Yo-Yo Dives

Plan your dives. If you have agreed with your group for a dive up to 20 meters, start to ascend slowly after your trip ends at 20 meters. After the maximum depth is reached, divers should ascend slowly and return to the surface at last. Don’t start (for example) to ascend from 20 meters up to 15 meters, stay there for a couple of minutes and then return to 20 meters back. Look at the dive profiles below for dos and don’ts:

10- Don’t Exceed Your Certification Limits 

If you are an Open Water Diver, you maximum depth limit is 18 meters. Don’t dive to (for example) 25 meters without proper training and experience. This will jeopardize your dive. It is not only the depth. If you don’t have the proper training, don’t attempt for a wreck dive or a cave dive. If you want to experience these dives, make your plan with your certified scuba instructor and follow the instructions. Training is the only option for a healthy and cheerful dive.

 Remember that the absolute maximum depth limit for a recreational scuba divers is 40 meters (suggested depth is 30 meters). Even if you are a Deep Diver, instructor or any dive professional of any level, you should not exceed it.

Please remember, “a successful dive is the one that you surface safely and smiling

Good dives all…

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About Seaman


Hi, my name is Murat Demirağ. I have been diving since 1996 and teaching scuba since 2005. I wanted to share my knowledge through divewithseaman.com

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  • Anne Pierrat
    2017-02-23 23:21

    Hi. I am a beginner diver. Certified to 60 ft. I had trouble equalizing one of my ears while getting my certification and had to take steroids. Twice! Had blood in middle ear. I want to try again to descend. Can you tell me where in the Caribbean would be a good place for me to take my time to solve this issue. Thanks.

    • Seaman
      2017-02-24 09:34

      Hello Anne,

      Welcome to DiveWithSeaman.com

      What you have experienced is something serious and dangerous.

      If you were telling us that you had difficulties equalizing your ears, that was ok. But having blood in middle ear? This is something else and must be treated well.

      What you should do is to see a doctor who has experience in scuba diving field, also called “underwater doctors” is some places.

      This is not only for treating your ear, but also to see if something physiological is blocking your ears and this causes the squeeze. If this is the case, your doctor will sure find a solution for this and you can dive and equalize your ears easily.

      On the other hand, if this is not the case (your doctor will tell us this), you will have to practice more and in right way.

      I advise you to read my blog post about equalizing ears from here.

      Please let us know about it and keep in touch.

      Hope this helps.

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