Exploring the oceans as a newly certified diver is so exciting! Get the most out of your dives, be ready for every adventure, and stay safe with our 15 essential tips to improve your dive safety. Read on to find out more and start diving today.
To make the most of your diving days, you need to be fit to dive. Whilst diving is generally relaxing, it can also be demanding, so make sure you are fit before you start exploring the underwater world.
Get into an aerobic exercise and stretching routine to prevent injuries and ensure you can dive comfortably. But remember, it is also important to take care of your health holistically.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and keep well hydrated. This is important during your dive trip as well and helps prevent dive accidents.
If you are nervous about diving, spend some time refreshing your dive knowledge and skills and visualize enjoying calm, fun dives.
Whether you are diving half a world away or just down the street from your home, you should always have an emergency assistance plan in place. Your emergency assistance plan does not have to be super complex or overly detailed, but it should cover any necessary information you would need should an emergency arise.
Things to consider include:
If you are diving locally, you may know all of these answers off the top of your head. However, you may need to do some research to be prepared if you are traveling.
Ensure you are covered above and below the water with an insurance policy that states scuba diving activities are included. Cover for scuba diving varies in different policies, so make sure the policy covers you for the depth you are certified to dive to.
If you are going traveling, make sure you also have a travel insurance policy that provides adequate cover in the event of illness or injury.
Keep a copy of these documents handy whenever you go diving:
Put these documents in a sealed waterproof bag to keep them safe and make sure you let your surface support crew or dive operator know where they are.
Unless you are specifically trained in solo diving, never go diving alone. This may sound like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how tempting it can be to stay down alone “just for a little while” after your buddy runs low on air, or to make a quick second dive by yourself.
Diving in a group without a designated buddy is also a bad idea. This significantly decreases your chance of a successful rescue if you have an emergency. Always make sure you dive with a designated buddy every time.
Your buddy check may be the most critical aspect of your dive. No matter how seasoned a diver is, they should always do a buddy check before every single dive.
This is where you will catch any gear malfunctions before you enter the water, make sure your air is on and full, and become familiar with your buddy’s equipment. It takes less than a minute to go through your check, so there is no excuse to ever skip it.
Whether you have a minor cold or severe allergies, you should never dive congested. No matter how badly you want to make the dive, compromising your dive safety is never worth the risk.
Being congested will make it nearly impossible to equalize your ears and make you susceptible to an eardrum rupture if you ignore the discomfort and continue to try.
Some divers think taking a decongestant will get them through the dive; however, this is also very dangerous. If the medication wears off during your dive, you could end up with a reverse sinus squeeze which can cause severe damage.
As an Open Water diver, you are limited to a certain maximum depth, and for good reason. To dive deeper than your certification allows, you need more training and experience underwater.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you do not dive deeper than your limit.
Pay attention during your dive briefing and follow your dive guide’s instructions before and during the dive. They know the dive site well, will understand local conditions, and often know where the hard-to-find marine life is as well.
Start equalizing as soon as you begin to descend into the water and take your time descending. Do not wait until you are a few meters underwater before beginning to equalize and do not wait until your ears start to hurt.
If you cannot equalize easily as you descend, or your ears hurt, ascend slightly and try again. Some people find equalizing difficult if they descend too quickly but the problem resolves itself if they try again with a slow steady descent.
Going at your own pace and listening to your body is one of the best ways to maximise your dive safety.
We know it feels strange breathing underwater at first and it is tempting to hold your breath, but you must never do so. Holding your breath whilst scuba diving can cause serious injury.
Instead, focus on breathing normally at all times, stay relaxed and enjoy your dive.
Get into the habit of checking your air gauge and dive computer regularly, so you always know how much air you have, what depth you are at, and what your no-decompression limits are.
By checking regularly, you will know if something happens to your air supply, such as a slow leak, and can take action to ensure your dive safety.
The ocean is filled with stunning marine life but make sure you never touch any of it. As well as being respectful to marine life, this protects fragile ocean ecosystems and you from harm.
There are poisonous marine creatures, sharp corals, and animals that will bite if they feel threatened. To ensure your dive safety, admire marine life from a safe distance and do not touch.
When you get to the end of your dive, you might be cold or keen to head to the surface quickly so you can rave about your dive. Now more than ever, you need to focus on your dive safety and take your time.
Coming up fast can cause decompression sickness, so ascend slowly, keep breathing normally, and always complete your safety stop.
If you do not feel right before, during or after your dive, let your dive buddy or dive guide know straight away. Problems can quickly escalate underwater and the sooner you take action, the sooner you can prevent a serious accident from occurring.
Do not take chances with your health and dive safety, it is never worth it. Skip a dive, end it early and relax. There will always be another chance to explore.