Scuba diving is a popular recreational activity for travelers, which has been made increasingly accessible over the years through affordable dive courses abroad. Considering the amount of dives that happen every day all over the world, it should be said that serious accidents, medical issues and fatalities are relatively rare. If you don’t follow certain precautions, however, you could put yourself at risk. Consider the tips and advice and below before your next (or first) diving trip.
Follow the instruction provided by PADI
PADI stands for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. It is an internationally recognized body and the organization that you need to go to request a diving permit. Being able to dive takes more than a desire to do so; you need to complete coursework and numerous exercises in the water under the supervision of a trained instructor.
The PADI course provides everything you need to know when it comes to proper use and maintenance of equipment, critical diving practices (always diving with a buddy, not ascending too quickly, equalizing often etc.), and the steps to take during an emergency situation.
You are required to pass a PADI course to receive your diving license, but don’t treat it as an obstacle to the beginning of your diving activities. Take the course seriously as the knowledge contained within is invaluable.
Adhere to all instruction from the local divemaster and instructor
After passing your PADI course, you may be under the impression that you know all there is to know about diving safety. But your safety depends as much on your knowledge of the dive site as it does on equipment and diving practices.
For example, if you follow best diving practices to a T, but then cut your leg on a patch of fire coral because you did not listen to the divemaster when he warned about the harsh current that could carry you into a danger area, well, those diving practices don’t mean much, do they?
Pay attention to what you do before and after diving
Planning on diving after partying until 5 AM? You might want to reconsider. It is also unwise to do certain activities after diving, such as flying. In fact, if your dive involved decompression stops during the ascent, you shouldn’t fly for at least 24 hours after finishing your dive.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t dive while ill and you certainly shouldn’t go for a dive that you are not comfortable with, either because of the underwater terrain, the duration of the dive or the depth (depth is also restricted by your PADI certification level).
If something doesn’t feel right, don’t let it slide, do something about it
Most medical conditions that occur after a dive can be easily treated, but they require attention right away. Do not surface from a dive feeling lousy and then proceed not to tell anyone about it. You should inform your buddy and/or your divemaster and you should plan on going to a clinic right away. It may be nothing or you may have to spend some time in a hyperbaric chamber, which can help with things like decompression sickness. If you don’t have immediate access to a clinic, get in touch with the Divers Alert Network, which has a 24 hour hotline.
Communicate and don’t panic
PADI has devised a number of hand signals that can be used to communicate underwater. Just as you shouldn’t keep anything to yourself above water after the dive, you shouldn’t hide anything when you are on the dive itself. Communicate with your buddy and if a problem does arrive, don’t panic, solve it together. Remember, you are not alone, and if you are, you are not following best diving practices and you should get out of the water right away!
photo credit: flickr user DogFromSPACE