Scuba diving like many other sports have its own potential risks, however, these risks can be minimized quite easily by following a few simple yet important rules.
These are some of the rules, I believe to be the most important for both your safety and to allow you to maximize your diving experience. These tips will also help you become a better and safer diver, allowing you to feel less stressed and more comfortable when diving.
1. Always Perform A Safety Stop
If you’re diving deeper than 10 meters, it’s important that you don’t’ forget to perform a safety stop at around 5 metres/15 ft for 3 minutes. Simply stop and wait for 3 minutes, if you’re having trouble staying at this level, then you can also hold onto an anchor or bottom line.
By doing so:
- You reduce the amount of nitrogen that’s stored in your veins and tissues by exhaling during this period.
- Your body slowly starts to adjust to this sharp pressure change.
- Reduce the risk of getting decompression sickness.
2. Watch Your Ascend Rate
Don’t ascend too fast, as it can cause decompression sickness. A good rule of thumb is to ascend 9 meters/ 30 ft a minute. For example, if you dove to 18 meters, then your ascend time should be at least 2 minutes, and the longer it takes the better.
3. Don't Dive Alone
Always dive with at least 1 other person, a buddy, or in a group. By diving with a buddy, if you ever encounter trouble such as equipment failure, or an out-of-air situation, they can in most case assist, whereas diving solo you may not be able to fix the problem yourself. That being said, there are times where people want to solo dive, in that case, it’s important to follow the rules and to try stay calm and focused at all times.
4. Never Exceed Dive Limits
At certain dive depths, there are limits as to how long you should stay. According to the SSI Dive table, it’s recommended that a diver stays at 15 meters, for only 70 minutes. Staying any longer than 70 minutes, greatly increases the risk of getting decompression sickness. It’s important to always watch your dive computer and be familiar with the dive table.
It’s recommended that you add a small safety net between the limit, if the limit suggests 70 minutes as the maximum then start to ascend at least 5 – 10 minutes before approaching the limit, leaving yourself plenty of time to safely ascend.
5. Respect The Ocean
With the ocean being our planet’s life support system, it is crucial that we respect it by cleaning up after ourselves. Ensure that any equipment is properly secured using clips and that no rubbish is left behind. It is also important that we be respectful of the marine life, as we are the guest in the ocean. Be wary of feeding the marine life, for example, Moray Eel’s may unconsciously attack or harm you whilst you are trying to feed it.
6. Always Perform Continuous Breathing
It is crucial that you breathe continuously, no matter if you’re ascending or descending. If you hold your breath, you risk rupturing your lungs due to an increased volume of air in your lungs. This is especially dangerous when you’re ascending.
7. Constantly Check Air Pressure
It is good practice to check your air pressure consistently and to make sure everything is functioning correctly. It is a good habit to check your air pressure gauge every 10 minutes. This ensures that any sudden equipment failure, won’t go unnoticed and cause you to go out of air. The deeper you dive, the more frequent you should check, because your breath will be denser the deeper you go.
8. Have A Good Night's Sleep
It is important that you get a good night’s sleep, and that you are well rested before diving. No alcohol should be consumed the day before your dive session as it increases the chance of decompression sickness. Eat a light meal before your dive session and never dive on an empty stomach as it can nausea and headaches.
9. Plan Your Dive's
It is important that you plan out your dives, once you’ve reached your maximum depth, you shouldn’t be diving back down when you’re ascending to the surface. Refer to dive profile below for do’s and don’ts.
10. Keep Within Your Certification Limits
If your certification is an Open Water Diver, then your maximum dive depth limit is 18 meters. It’s important, that you don’t exceed this limit without proper guidance and training, as it can jeopardize your dive. In addition, if you don’t have the proper training, you shouldn’t be diving in other environments, for example, cave diving or wreck diving. Training not only teaches you how to properly dive in these environments but ensures that you prepared to handle any trouble you may face.