Tons of water sports get you out on the water. As in, you're still mostly above the surface, unless you wipe out.
However, snorkeling and scuba diving are a couple of ways to explore what lies under the surface. There's an entire world of plants and animals that live in the water.
And if you want to dive into that world, you need to physically get into the water.
As a snorkeler, you have a mask with a small tube. One end of the tube remains above water while you float face down at the surface. That allows you to breathe normally and enjoy a new view of the ocean.
You can wear a regular swimsuit, and you don't need any special equipment aside from the mask.
On the other hand, scuba diving takes you deeper below the surface. You can dive as deep as your equipment lets you, and you will need quite a bit of gear.
Scuba divers need a special mask for breathing underwater. You also need a source of oxygen, since you can't come up for air at a moment's notice. And you'll also want to wear a full-body suit rather than a regular swimsuit.
Now, don't get this confused with competitive diving (2). Although, that's another excellent water sport. However, we're focusing on diving safety for scuba, snorkeling, and similar forms of diving.
Importance of Diving Safety
Diving safety can sometimes mean life or death when you go scuba diving. Proper diving safety can also make your dives less stressful and more enjoyable.
If you have to spend your dive worrying about your oxygen tank, you won't be able to focus on the dive itself.
Of course, you probably won't know everything about diving safety. But there's a reason why training is highly encouraged (3) before you start scuba diving.
A proper diving instructor can teach you the basics of diving safety. While certification isn't required, getting a scuba diving certification means you'll know how to stay safe when diving.
Diving requires a lot of preparation, and you have to act quickly if something goes wrong. So be sure you learn as much as you can about diving safety before you head underwater.
8 Diving Safety Tips
So you know what diving is, you understand why diving safety is critical, and you're ready to head under the surface. Not so fast.
We have some diving safety tips that you need to follow for a successful dive. Now, if you've never gone scuba diving before, we recommend you take some classes and earn your certification.
These diving safety tips aren't a substitute for formal training.
However, if you're an experienced diver, we hope these diving safety tips serve as a reminder for how to conduct a safe dive (4). Without further ado, here are eight diving safety tips that every diver needs to know.
1. Make a plan
Before you set foot on that boat or coastline, make a plan for your dive. Know when, where, and for how long you want to dive.
Work with your dive partner on your plan. Make sure you discuss how far deep you will dive, and research proper protocols for your chosen dive site.
Come up with hand signals and their meanings so you and your buddy can communicate underwater. Don't ignore any details; you'll thank yourself later.
Finally, follow your dive plan as closely as possible. Of course, things can and do change. But sticking to your plan will help you minimize the risk of an emergency.
2. Suit up
It's the day of your dive, and your anticipation is rising. But don't get too excited just yet. Before you jump in the water, make sure to suit up correctly.
Wear the right attire, check your gear to ensure everything is working, and do the same with your buddy. Make sure you know how to use all of your equipment so that you can act fast if something goes wrong.
If you're planning a night dive, be sure you have a primary and secondary light source and that both are fully charged and working correctly.
And if you're taking a boat to your dive site, make sure the boat has everything it needs. The right gear and attire are crucial to maintaining proper diving safety.
3. Know your limits
Of course, you should consider your and your partner's limits when making your dive plan. You should have a rough idea of how long you'll be comfortable underwater and how far deep you're comfortable diving.
Yes, it's good to get out of your comfort zone during a dive. However, it's not okay to go so far out of your comfort zone that you start to panic.
You want to remain calm during a dive. Pushing yourself or your partner too far can have negative consequences for both of you.
If this is your first dive and you don't know your limits, start small. Consider making a hand signal that means you're calm and ready to go deeper.
And make a signal that means you're done and ready to resurface.
4. Fit above water
Before you head out on your next dive, do what you can to get in shape on land. Scuba diving is very physically demanding.
Changing currents, longer surface swims, and carrying heavy gear all require some amount of endurance. Even though you may feel weightless underwater, your body has to endure a lot of weight and stress.
So get into a good exercise routine, avoid alcohol and tobacco, and maintain a healthy weight.
And don't go through with a dive if you feel under the weather.
Diving while sick, even with a minor cold, can be deadly for some.
5. Don't go alone
You've probably noticed that we've mentioned diving with a partner. An easy way to maintain diving safety is to dive with someone else.
If you dive alone, you have only your gear and your air supply to rely on. But if you dive with a partner, you can use their gear and air supply as a backup.
Solo diving can be very dangerous, even if you have proper training. If you get hurt or lost, you don't have anyone to help you if you're alone.
Sure, a solo dive sounds cool, but it's not safe.
6. Air supply is key
When you're underwater, your air supply is your lifeline. That's why watching your air supply is an essential part of diving safety.
Hopefully, you made a note of how much air you need when you created your diving plan. But things happen, and you can lose air supply faster than planned. Or you could lose track of time and use more air than you realize.
Make sure you always have enough air to make a slow ascent.
7. Slow and steady
Bad things can happen if you ascend too quickly after a dive. According to RUSHKULT, ascending too fast means that the nitrogen in your bloodstream won't have time to dissolve through the pressure changes as you head toward the surface.
That buildup can then cause decompression illness due to bubbles collecting in your bloodstream.
Luckily, you can use a dive computer to alert you if you're going too fast. If you don't have a dive computer, watch the speed of the bubbles you exhale and don't go any quicker than that.
8. Prepare for the worst
Diving is a fantastic way to get active and see a new part of the world. However, anything can go wrong during a dive.
Here's where you need all of those diving safety skills from your training. To stay safe during a dive, make sure you and your partner know how to use each other's air supply.
You should both also know how to disconnect the pressure inflator hose. Next, you should know how to maintain buoyancy control so that you don't ascend too rapidly.
Finally, you should know some basic CPR to be able to help others once they're out of the water, if need be.
Dive on In
Scuba diving is an amazing sport -- you get to swim and see things you could never see on land. However, with water comes danger.
Diving comes with risks, which is why knowing the basics of diving safety is essential before heading out on a dive.
From making a plan and wearing the right gear to going with a partner and tracking your air supply, diving safety plays a vital part in your dive. If something is wrong, you won't be able to enjoy the dive.
But if you prepare ahead, you can mitigate emergencies so that you can focus on the beauty of the ocean.
Have you gone scuba diving? Do you have any other tips or thoughts on diving safety? Comment below!