Scuba diving can feel intimidating to a new student diver, but a few tips from a qualified instructor on scuba gear and dive safety can banish that fear. The following five tips are all real advice given to real students by Darrick Cusick, one of Scuba.com’s own expert dive instructors.
1 . Never Get Caught Without a Spare
Diving is no off-the-cuff expedition – not only are you often traveling outside of your neighborhood to go diving, it requires a great deal of gear and planning. Unfortunately, things go wrong, and the more complicated, the easier it is for one little mishap to ruin an entire trip. Fin straps break, mask straps break, and if you don’t have another on hand you’re stuck with a ruined trip that could’ve been solved by a $10-20 dollar strip of plastic. Bring mask defog, because you can’t always count on someone else on the boat having a bottle. Spare o-rings are also never a bad idea: tank valve o-rings are easy to forget about and blow out frequently.
2. Surface With Care
It’s easy for a beginner to forget, but surfacing carefully is just as, if not more important, than diving. When coming back to the surface, you want to come up 30 feet per minute, minimum. Remember this pro tip when in doubt about your speed – never travel faster than the slowest bubbles that you’re exhaling. Also, make sure to do a safety stop at 15 feet, no exceptions.
3. Never Hold Your Breath
Never hold your breath underwater. It’s worth repeating because it feels like it goes against your natural instincts. When you’re underwater, you’re first thought is to hold your breath. And until humans grow gills, that’s always going to be your first instinct. However, it’s vital to remember that as you rise, air expands in your lungs. What this means is that with sufficient speed, it’s possible to cause your lungs to burst. So, again: never hold your breath underwater.
4. Stay Hydrated, Stay In Shape
Swimming and scuba diving are both incredible workouts, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Just because you’re surrounded by water, doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink any. Make sure to hydrate often, because you are exerting yourself more than you think. As far as staying in shape goes, that’s important for any sport. Don’t go beyond your limits, because that ways lies injury.
5. Don’t go it alone
First off, always dive with a buddy. Always. Having someone nearby to pull your bacon out of the proverbial fire is just good common sense. Second, remember to let someone (besides your dive buddy) know where you’re diving, when you’re diving, and other details about the dive site. Safety first, always always always. Third, remember to look up the local contact information for all of the emergency services in the area. Dialing 9-1-1 outside of North America might not always yield the results you were hoping for.
The responsibility to stay safe is an important one, and should be taken seriously. However, it’s vital to remember that diving is an exciting adventure, one that should be enjoyed over and over again. With the right attitude and preparation, every dive can be a memorable exploration of another world.