With the arrival of the summer holidays, Safety and Development Manager Jim Watson looks at ways to spend your days by and in the water safely.
The summer is officially here, and most schools will have either started their summer break or will shortly be doing so. The summer is also seen as prime diving and snorkelling season and, whilst parents and their extended family—who may be involved in entertaining, taxiing or generally caring for the youngsters—may see this as a barrier to their diving, there are many opportunities here too.
Planning the day out by the sea
A trip to the coast for a day out could include an opportunity for that ‘cheeky dive’ if you apply a bit of careful planning. As long as there is a partner who can entertain the youngsters for the duration of a dive then it should be possible to plan at least one dive into the day.
In the [ideal] situation where both are divers, then sharing the responsibilities and diving opportunities—such as each taking one dive on a shuttle boat—can help keep everyone happy. Of course, where older children as also trained divers there are much wider opportunities?
Family activities at the beach
Beach holidays provide lots of entertainment for children and adults alike. To add to the more routine activities BSAC provides resources to support some more focussed activities that not only entertain and educate but can also provide a foundation for a lifelong interest in the marine environment.
Beachcomber and Beachsnapper course materials provide detailed guidance on how to conduct these activities safely at the beach and start to build the youngsters interest in the marine environment we find fascinating and is a real opportunity to share your interest.
Increasingly environmental awareness is a pressing concern for the younger generation as it is their future that is at stake. School children are better informed and passionate about such matters than adults and you can harness that enthusiasm and directly help by engaging in a little litter picking.
Enjoying the water safely
As divers, we are keenly aware of the water environment and are well placed to educate young people about water safety. Trying other water activities such as paddleboarding, kayaking, windsurfing etc. can be great fun providing some key safety steps are taken including:
- Getting appropriate training
- Wearing protective clothing
- Wearing the correct buoyancy device
This reflects the same advice for diving and snorkelling.
Snorkelling and diving
The marine environment holds a fascination for many young people and this is accentuated when they are aware of other family members who enjoy the activity. Whether it is a fascination with the specialist equipment used or a desire to see SpongeBob, Nemo or Dory face to face, the interest should be encouraged and nurtured.
Age limits for learning to snorkel are subject to having equipment to fit and, for the UK, a wetsuit should be considered essential for open water snorkelling. Adults should also remain aware that children will lose heat from their bodies much faster than adults and their exposure should be carefully managed.
Diver training within BSAC can start from the age of 12 (10 for Discovery Diver) and whilst initial training is in a swimming pool training with a BSAC Centre can allow for fairly quick progression. Being able to share the training experience with a family member is even better!
The key messages already promoted remain valid for everyone and we would remind all divers to ensure:
- You and your equipment are fit and ready
- Practice/refresh your skills in controlled conditions
- Start slowly and build up progressively
Stay safe – dive safe
Safety and Development Manager