We all know it’s vital to practise lifesaving skills throughout our diving lifetime, no matter your experience. Sadly a higher percentage of further qualified divers are involved in incidents compared to any other BSAC diver grade (evidenced in the diving incidents report).
In an emergency or panic it can be difficult to recall basic skills such as maintaining neutral buoyancy, mask clearing or even locating your buddy’s alternate air source. By refreshing the basic skills you learnt in your training could save you or another diver, a well-practised diver is more likely to remain calm in challenging situations.
Dive within your limits
Time, depth and gas are of course the three basic limits to your dive; but what about the following…
- Weather and conditions - diving in the UK will give you a wealth of experience in diving conditions. Only you will know your limits when it comes to conditions, speak up if they are being exceeded.
- Is your heart in it? Be mindful of how you feel, if your mind or heart isn’t in the dive, don’t dive, you'll be putting you and your buddy at risk. Speak up if you’re not comfortable.
Plan your dive and dive your plan
Always stick to the conditions you have trained to, be mindful of your limits when planning a dive, be aware of overhead environments and monitor your depth. Only dive where you feel comfortable.
Check your gear and your buddy
- Get familiar with any new kit and always re-familiarise yourself with your existing gear.
- Underwater, you are dependent on your equipment; always check it before a dive, for example is your torch fully charged?
- Conduct a thorough buddy check. Get to know them and their gear well before getting into the water. Check you know;
o exactly how your weights release (and your buddy’s)
o where all the dump valves are on your drysuit and BC
o how to deploy your DSMB safely
So we all know to avoid alcohol, to get lots of rest and to stay suitably hydrated before a dive. But what about our fitness? Diving medical experts speak regularly about the importance of keeping fit as a diver. Before getting back in the water have a little think about your fitness - is your body really up to the dive? If not, you need to rethink it.
High blood pressure carries a risk of pulmonary oedema (IPO). Very strenuous exercise, for example, rescuing another diver or fighting a current, could trigger IPO.
Buoyancy and breathing
Buoyancy control is a fundamental skill of diving and like all skills requires constant practise. Let’s face it, it makes diving far more enjoyable too.
- Practise constant, steady breathing at all times – this will help to improve your buoyancy, gas consumption and it helps to induce a calm state.
- Always keep an eye on your air pressure and time left on your dive.
- Have correct weighting…we spoke of fitness earlier, has your weight changed? Do you have any new gear?
Practice safe ascents
- We know that continuous and calm breathing will help you ascend slowly and safely.
- Remember that ascending face-to-face with your buddy will help to maintain good visual contact with each other and check for potential hazards.
- Conduct a safety stop to check your buoyancy and control is maintained.
- Check the surface; look for any obstructions, especially in low visibility.
- Once on the surface check ‘Okay’ with your buddy and the surface cover party.
- Ensure positive buoyancy at the surface; keep your regulator in your mouth until you are fully out of the water.