We learn about the causes and consequences of diving accidents in our beginner dive courses. Every effective dive briefing should include information on how to prevent potentially risky situations. As well as emergency methods for dealing with them if they do occur. We can easily avoid most diving mishaps with enough training and preparedness.
Nonetheless, every diver should have a rudimentary awareness of what to do in the event of a malfunction. Although the risk of injury appears to be significant, diving is a pretty safe activity when done properly.
According to a compilation of statistics from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan, the statistical likelihood of dying when diving is 2-3 per 100,000 dives.
The following list of guidelines is by no means complete, but it provides a good starting point for reducing the chances of a diving accident. Moreover, 10 rules for Safe scuba diving.
SAFE SCUBA DIVING
1. Never hold your breath
As any decent entry-level dive student knows, this is the most important rule of scuba. And for good reason: holding one’s breath underwater can cause major harm, if not death. The air in a diver’s lungs expands during ascent and contracts during descent, according to Boyle’s law.
This isn’t a problem as long as the diver keeps breathing because excess air can escape. When a diver holds his breath, however, the air cannot leave as it expands. Moreover, the alveoli that make up the lung walls eventually break, causing catastrophic organ damage.
Over-pressurization causes pulmonary barotrauma, which is an injury to the lungs. In the most severe cases, air bubbles can leak into the chest cavity and bloodstream. Once these air bubbles enter the bloodstream, they can produce an arterial gas embolism, which is usually fatal.
Lung-over-expansion injuries can be caused by changes in depth of just a few feet. Holding one’s breath is therefore hazardous at all times during diving, not just when ascending. It’s simple to avoid pulmonary barotrauma; simply keep breathing at all times.
2. Practice safe ascents
Making careful to ascend gently and securely is almost as crucial as breathing continually. The nitrogen absorbed into the bloodstream at deep does not have time to dissolve back into solution when the pressure decreases on the trip to the surface if divers exceed a safe ascent velocity.
Decompression illness is caused by bubbles forming in the bloodstream. Maintain an ascending rate of no more than 30 feet per minute to avoid this. You’ll be informed if you’re ascending too quickly if you dive with a computer. But if you don’t have one, a general rule of thumb is to climb no quicker than your smallest bubble.
Always deflate your BCD completely before beginning your climb, and never, ever use the inflator button to reach the surface. To explain a five-point ascent, use the acronym taught to new divers: Signal, Time, Elevate, Look, Ascend (STELA).
Always conduct your 3-minute safety stop at 15 feet, unless worsening surface conditions, decreasing oxygen supply, or any other substantial mitigating factors make it unsafe to do so. This creates a conservative barrier that significantly reduces your chances of decompression illness.
3. Check your gear
Your equipment is critical to your survival underwater. When it comes to checking your gear before a dive, don’t be a slacker. Conduct a complete buddy check—if your or your partner’s equipment fails, both of you may face a life-threatening situation.
Make sure you understand how to operate your equipment. The majority of equipment-related catastrophes happen because divers are uncertain of how the equipment works, rather than because it breaks.
Make sure you understand how your integrated weights are released and how to safely deploy your DSMB. As well as where all of the dump valves on your BCD are located. If you’re getting ready for an uncommon dive, double-check that you have all of the necessary equipment.
For example, do you have a primary torch, a backup, and a chemical light when getting ready for a night dive? Are they all fully charged? Have you set your computer to your new air mix if you’re getting ready for a nitrox dive? To drive safely, you must be adequately prepared.
4. Dive within your limits
Above all, keep in mind that diving should be enjoyable. Never put yourself in a predicament that you don’t want to be in. If you’re not physically or mentally capable of diving, call it. It’s easy to give in to peer pressure, but you must always determine whether or not to dive for yourself.
If the conditions are risky on a given day, don’t be afraid to cancel a dive or alter the location. The same spot may be within your capabilities one day and not the next, depending on variations in surface conditions, temperature, and current.
Wreck penetrations, deep dives, diving in above settings, and diving with enriched air all necessitate special training.
5. Stay physically fit
Although we spend most of our time underneath resting, long surface swims, diving in strong currents, hauling gear, and exposure to extreme weather all combine to make diving a physically taxing sport. To drive safely, you must maintain a reasonable degree of personal fitness. Exhaustion caused by a lack of fitness can lead to the increased air intake, fear, and a variety of accidents.
Obesity, alcohol and cigarette use, and exhaustion all increase a person’s susceptibility to decompression sickness. While pre-existing conditions account for 25% of diver deaths, which should have prevented them from diving in the first place. Always be truthful on medical surveys and consult a physician to determine whether or not you are fit to dive.
Be aware of any temporary physical limitations – while a cold may not be deadly on land, it can cause considerable harm underwater. Before stepping back in the water, be sure you’ve fully recovered from any illness or surgery.
Also see – Types Of Scuba Diving
6. Plan your dive; dive your plan
Taking the time to organize your dive thoroughly is critical to guaranteeing your safety underwater. Before diving, make sure you and your diving companions have agreed on a maximum time and depth. Keep emergency and lost-diver procedures in mind.
These may vary slightly from location to location and are dependent on the dive’s characteristics. If you’re diving without a guide, plan ahead of time how you’ll get about the location. Make sure you have everything you need to get back to your departure point.
Communicate with your companion, making sure you’re both on the same page about the hand signals you’ll use; we’re often paired with strangers while diving and signs can vary a lot depending on where a diver is from. For example, in Asia and the Caribbean, the signal for a 12-tank of air is the same signal used by African divers to signify the conclusion of a dive.
It’s just as vital to stick to your strategy as it is to plan ahead of time. Throughout the dive, keep an eye on your indicators. It’s all too easy to lose track of time and end yourself dangerously low on oxygen or several minutes into decompression.
According to DAN’s diver fatality statistics, insufficient gas supply was the top cause of fatal emergency ascents in the deaths investigated. Which might have been easily avoided if the air supply had been adequately managed.
7. Rule of thirds
When it comes to air supply management, use the rule of thirds. A diver should set aside a third of his or her air supply for the outgoing excursion. A third for the return journey, and the remaining third as a safety reserve, according to this rule.
This is a fair rule of thumb, but it needs to be tweaked for scenarios that don’t fit the out-and-back profile, such as drift dives, where the entry and departure points aren’t the same.
You should always figure in a margin that allows for a leisurely ascent and a safe landing. Consider not only your own needs but also those of your companion. Is there enough oxygen in your tank to contribute to the surface in the event of an emergency?
When planning a deep dive, leave more air in your cylinder at the end of the dive than you would if keeping shallow to allow for a longer ascent time. Similarly, be aware that if you plan a dive in difficult conditions such as strong currents or frigid temperatures, your air consumption will likely increase significantly.
8. Use the buddy system
Even though some training companies now provide solo-diving certifications, diving without sufficient training is still a no-no. The adage “when you dive alone, you die alone” exists for a reason. The presence of a companion is required for the majority of emergency skills.
In an out-of-air emergency, for example, you have very few options if you don’t have access to another air supply. If you’re shallow enough, you can conduct a CESA. However, in most circumstances, you’d have to resort to an uncontrolled buoyant rise, which would very certainly result in serious physical consequences.
According to DAN, BSAC, and DAN Australia statistics, the diver was alone in 86 percent of fatal incidents. A catastrophic mistake is getting too far away from your buddy or altogether losing them. Underwater, your friend is your lifeline and support system, and you should treat him or her as such.
Before a dive, if your dive guide pairs you with a stranger, take the time to get to know them. Inquire about their education and experience, as well as any specific issues they may have. If your friend wears contacts, for example, they won’t be able to open their eyes underwater. If they lose their mask, you’ll have to help them.
When comparing gauges or computers with your buddy, always err on the side of caution. Stick to the most conservative instrument’s rules.
9. Practice vital skills
Divers frequently allow the abilities they learn in their introductory course to expire over time. They may never have learned the abilities in the first place. Due to high-class sizes or a fluke performance at the time, poor instructors may have neglected skills. Diver safety depends on these fundamental skills.
It could mean the difference between life and death if you can do them competently in an emergency. In many emergency scenarios, knowing how to use your buddy’s alternate air source, conduct a CESA, and disconnect your pressure inflator hose are all essential abilities.
Other abilities are crucial in a proactive rather than reactive manner. To avoid deadly uncontrolled ascents, good buoyancy control is essential. Mastering mask clearance could mean the difference between dealing with a crisis calmly and succumbing to panic. Divers who are rescue-certified or equivalent are in a position of trust.
They may need to perform CPR, extract a diver from the sea, or administer emergency oxygen at any time. Regularly practice and renew your skillset. Make sure you’re confident in your ability to respond if something goes wrong.
10. Establish positive buoyancy at the surface
Underwater, we normally think about risky diving conditions. However, difficulties that emerge on the surface account for 25% of diver fatalities. Fatigue has a role in 28% of diver deaths. Attempting to stay on the surface while over-weighted is the most prevalent cause of this.
Positive buoyancy at the surface saves energy and keeps you from becoming exhausted and drowning. At the end of each dive, you should establish a positive balance. The first step in assisting a fatigued, terrified, or unconscious diver at the surface is to do so. Fully inflate your BCD and, if required, lower your weights.
It’s easy to stay safe while driving. The potential hazards are effectively mitigated with cautious preparation, common sense, and skill confidence. Following these regulations, as well as the rest of your training’s standards, keeps you safe while also allowing you to relax and enjoy yourself. After all, it is why you go scuba diving in the first place.