As in any active sport, especially those that take place in harsh or dangerous environments, accidents will inevitably happen. Scuba diving is far from the most dangerous sport out there — it’s got lower accident rates than other extreme sports, such as mountain biking and downhill skiing. And most diving accidents result not from the inherent danger of our sport, but from diver error. Here are the six best ways to avoid diving accidents.
How to avoid diving accidents
Although the following rules don’t guarantee that you’ll never face an underwater emergency, by following them, as well as by receiving proper training and practicing preparedness and awareness, you can avoid most diving accidents.
Stay within the limits of your training and experience
Divers must adhere to certain limits based on their certification. Sometimes it may be easy to descend those few extra feet, but certification agencies establish these limits for good reason. Exceeding your certification level can put you in a strenuous environment that you’re not trained to handle. Agencies also calculate these limits to extreme certainty based on gas, depth and physiological considerations. If you find that you’re constantly struggling to stay within your certification level, rather than bending the rules, why not pursue an advanced certification?
Stay in good physical condition
Do you have to run a half-marathon every day to avoid diving accidents? No, but it would be nice if you could take 50 steps with all your scuba gear and tank on without having to sit down and catch your breath. Although our sport may not be as physical as some, maintaining good physical condition is nonetheless important both on land and underwater, when situations like unexpected current can put your cardiovascular skills to the test.
Keep your equipment in good working order
It’s easy to push this task to the side, but remember: your scuba equipment is not like a pair skis that needs waxing. This is highly technical gear that’s responsible for keeping you alive, so take the extra time and spend the extra money to make sure it’s functioning properly. Make sure everything has been inspected and check your equipment before every dive. This includes thoroughly cleaning your equipment after every dive.
Practice neutral buoyancy
Practicing neutral buoyancy not only makes you look professional, it also provides for longer bottom times. You’ll decrease your air consumption rates and increase efficiency, while ultimately putting less stress on your body. These are all good things when striving for a safe dive.
Make sure to get sufficient rest before a dive
This seems self explanatory, but it’s worth noting that getting a good night’s sleep results in a healthy, rested body. This, in turn, will help you resist the effects of harsh conditions, such as cold water. Being tired also slows your mind and body down, and makes you work harder than you normally would.
Stay hydrated and well nourished
Eat a good breakfast with plenty of slow-burn carbohydrates. Oats, whole wheat and fruits are good options. Avoid the greasy fried food as it will sit in your stomach for hours and make you feel lethargic. Never dive on an overfull stomach as you could suffer cramps, and always leave a couple of hours after a meal before entering the water. Also, hydrate before and after your dives. Because you’re in the water, you don’t realize how much water you’re losing through perspiration. A few large glasses of water can really help. Just remember to use the restroom before you get in your wetsuit!
Finally, and just as key when it comes to avoiding diving accidents: have fun and stay positive. That’s the reason you became a diver in the first place, right? If you’re in a negative mindset, you’re much more likely to make dangerous mistakes, so have fun, heed these six tips, and remember your training.