It doesn't matter how many dives you have completed, we all have 2 goals beneath the surface, HAVE FUN AND BE SAFE
When underwater, there are some important rules you should follow that will keep you and your buddy safe.
- No Touching
- Plan The Dive
- Neutral Buoyancy
- Finning Techniques
- Maintain Your Dive Gear
- Never Hold Your Breath
- Check Your Gas Often
- Watch Your NDL
- Listen To Dive Briefings
- Keep Up To Date With Your Training
Being submerged and surrounded by the most amazing reefs and sea life can create the temptation to touch and feel. You will see the most incredible variety of colours and shapes, reefs and coral, as well as fascinating creatures, however, you should never touch anything no matter how tempting it looks.
Many divers and non divers don’t realise that many of the things you see underwater are delicate living beings, even the reef itself. Touching them may cause irreversible damage and even lead to them dying or degrading. Another reason not to touch anything is that some of these creatures or corals are likely to react by stinging or biting you in order to protect themselves from danger.
To be environmentally friendly, protect yourself and your surroundings by not touching and only admiring.
Plan The Dive
"Plan the dive, dive the Plan"
Every diver regardless of a group or a buddy team, should be equally comfortable with the dive plan before making the dive. Everyone has their own limitations and you should never feel pressured to drift from the original dive plan. If you have any concerns about the dives you're about to do, don’t be afraid to speak up and never let others tell you what is right or not.
You are responsible for your own safety, therefore all divers need to be happy with the plan and confident that it is well within their OWN personal limitations and training.
This rule is not only for BEFORE the dive but you should let your buddies know immediately if anything DURING the dive makes you uncomfortable and abort the dive if necessary. There is no shame in doing so, and no diver should ever be questioned about their reasons.
Buoyancy control is an essential skill you should have when diving in and around reefs, corals and sea life and is something that every scuba diver should strive to perfect. Any diver should be able to ascend or descend by using breath control and maintain neutral buoyancy throughout a dive. Having control of your buoyancy helps prevent you from touching and harming sea life or yourself.
Buoyancy control not only prevents affecting life underwater, but also helps reduce air consumption making your dives that much more enjoyable and last longer.
Being in control of your fins and aware of your surroundings is so important not only for you but for life underwater. A diver that has their fins crashing against corals/reefs or wrecks on every kick is unaware of the damage their doing to the habitats, aquatic life, and more than likely kicking up all the sand and silt (Not fun for the guys behind you).
If you do unfortunately hit something with your fins, stop and adjust your buoyancy and position yourself to make sure you don’t do it again.
Practice good buoyancy control and always keep a distance off the sand, away from coral and maintain your buoyancy within wrecks. Learning new techniques like "frog" kicking will also reduce gas consumption and prevent your fins from kicking up silt and harming aquatic life.
Maintain Your Dive Gear
Nobody likes to rent gear or buy gear that is tatty, broken or looks as though it hasn't been maintained.
Regardless of a brand, design or type of dive gear you use, the purpose is the same – your gear is there to keep you safe. It is therefore essential that you look after it, keep it well maintained and get it serviced regularly.
Looking after your gear will make it more reliable, even if you purchased your own or rented from a centre, it will give you that extra peace of mind. If you’re unsure of or when any of your gear needs servicing, check the manufacturer’s guidelines or give Divewise a call to help guide you in the right direction to keep your gear well maintained!
Never Hold Your Breath
The most important rule for any diver from any affiliation is that you should NEVER HOLD YOUR BREATH whilst scuba diving!
This rule gets a lot of emphasis during the beginning stages of your diving lifestyle, and there’s a very good reason for it. Air compresses and expands as you change depths, due to the changes in pressure. During a dive, you will notice this by adding more gas as you feel more heavy the deeper you go or the opposite will occur the shallow you become. The same also happens to your lungs, so if you were to hold your breath while ascending, for example, the expanding air in your lungs could cause some serious injury.
To prevent any injury, always remember to just keep breathing, and blow those bubbles!
Check Your Gas Often
The air in your cylinder can only last so long, so it goes without saying that you should always know how much you have left. Make a habit of checking your gauges as often as possible during a dive and communicate with your buddies when it’s time to turn the dive.
It’s equally important that you plan your dive, including starting gas pressure & turn pressures. Your plan should be conservative and well within your limits.
As you become more experienced as a scuba diver, you will get a feel for how quickly you breathe down your gas, and your gas consumption may get better as you improve your skills.
Watch Your NDL
Every scuba diver has their own limitations; training, diving experience, skills, or what they personally feel comfortable with. Be honest with yourself and don’t disregard the risks and only make a dive that’s within all your limits.
Never put yourself or your buddy in danger by exceeding your bottom time limits. Technical diving can allow you to stay beyond your bottom time but this too, has limits. Keep an eye out on your NDL (No Decompression Limits) and make sure you stay well within the allocated time.
Listen To Dive Briefings
Dive briefings are important, as they will give you essential information to make your dive more enjoyable, safer and aware of important facts. Dive briefings are valuable to divers in new new areas as dive guides will explain aquatic life to be aware of, interesting facts, underwater dive conditions and safety procedures.
Not listening to the briefing can mean that you may miss out on things the dive site has to offer, injury yourself on aquatic life or misplace the group!
Keep Up To Date With Your Training
Some divers will stop at entry level courses as they feel they may know everything there is to know about scuba diving already. THERE IS ALWAYS MORE TO LEARN! Dive centres around the world offer tons of courses for you to learn new techniques, new gear, improve your skills and allow you to experience more from diving.
Specialties have been created to allow you to; experience diving safely inside of a shipwreck, dive deeper for longer, dive with different gases, learn more about the aquatic life, dive at night and so much more... You can never stop learning something new!
"When was the last time you tried something for the first time" - Patrick Voorma
Safety checks before the dive are vital as they PREVENT incidents whilst on your dive. Follow the BWRAF to prevent mishaps underwater for you or your buddy:
- B - BUOYANCY, check your BCD inflates and deflates properly and your buddies
- W - WEIGHTS, make sure you have your weights connected properly and make sure you know where your buddies are positioned
- R - RELEASES, make sure you have clipped all buckles and strapped in nice and comfortably. Know where your buddies release buckles are. Most important buckle is the one connecting your cylinder to your BCD
- A - AIR, breathe from your regulator whilst looking at your gauge to make sure your gas is turned on and check how much gas you and your buddy have to start the dive with.
- F - FINAL, check you have all items making your dive easier and safer: fins, mask, snorkel, SMB, torch, computer etc..
There are tons of rules and regulations regarding scuba diving but we feel these are pretty high on the list!
Written by: Amy-Sarah Lottering