- The Bends/Decompression Sickness – Decompression sickness is a serious and sometimes fatal condition. Divers need to pay close attention when ascending because of the body’s absorption of nitrogen. If a diver does not take the adequate time to release the nitrogen, build up an assortment of issues can arise. A diver with decompression sickness can experience a skin rash, aching joints, paralysis and in extreme cases, death.
- Barotrauma – If someone suffers from barotrauma, he or she has damaged their inner ear because they have not kept themselves equalized. Preventing damage to the inner ear courtesy of underwater pressure is done a few ways. The most common things divers do is pinching their nose shut and blowing. Other options include swallowing or chewing, both options force air into the middle ear.
- Sea Creatures – Scuba divers need to remember one factor, as beautiful and as interesting as sea creatures and sea life are, they do pose potential threats. Scuba divers need to stay alert and not touch things or get to close to dangerous sea creatures. Sharks, stingrays, and other creatures pose potential risks if not respected.
- Malfunctioning equipment – Whether you own or rent diving equipment it is essential to give it a thorough check before heading to the water.
Decompression sickness can occur if a depth gauge is broken. If there are issues with a regulator is it possible for the scuba diver to drown. Never rent, or use, scuba gear that appears faulty in any way. Using suspect gear could lead to sickness or death.
The Essentials for Scuba Diving
Long before you make your way to the deep waters of an ocean, or even the training pool, there are certain pieces of equipment you need for a safe diving experience. The following are among those items to get during certification or after.
- Mask – A mask that fits your face perfectly is essential. Renting equipment is fine but you want a mask made for your face to prevent water from leaking into the mask.
- Fins – Having a set of fins that fit your feet perfectly provides more confidence when moving through the water. There is no risk of the fins being uncomfortable when they are purchased specifically for the diver. These are things fin renters cannot guarantee.
- Wetsuit – Scuba diving is a cold experience thanks to the temperature of the water. To help avoid freezing a fitted wetsuit is an important purchase for all divers.
- Regulators & Tanks – These two items are vital to a safe dive. Fortunately, it is possible to rent both of these items instead of purchasing them. If you would prefer to own your own, they would definitely be worth the purchase.
Personal Scuba Diving Accessory Options
Following the purchase of the essential diving equipment, many divers choose to expand their collection with other accessories. Here are a few of those items.
- Headlamp – A headlamp is a great way to put light on the situation and keep your hands free when under the water. Ensure you get one that is water or weather proof, and will withstand depths 33 feet from the surface.
- LED Light – A certified LED light that can withstand great depths is ideal to help you see and explore when on a dive.
- Compass – This is a great accessory that will prevent you and your dive buddy from getting lost. It is not required but it is incredibly handy.’
- Knife – For use in emergencies.
- Duffel bag or backpack – With so much gear and accessories to cart around it is important to have a quality bag to transport all of it around.
All the signals were created for better understanding between divers, because going every time to the surface to communicate is dangerous and some time there is no time for writing everything on a slate. The signals were also introduced by military divers in the early years of scuba diving.
Beside the hand signals used underwater, divers at the surface use other diving signals or devices to communicate.
The famous diver down flag (red with a white line across): indicates that there is a diver below. No other boats are allowed and there is a second, larger zone in which boat’s speed is limited. The flag can be placed on a boat or on a buoy. And in some countries it must go down when all divers are out of the water. Today this flag represents scuba diving worldwide.
- The Alfa Flag (white and blue): in international shipping communications every letter of the alphabet is represented by a colored flag. This flag represents the letter “A” Alfa. By itself means “Diver Down; Keep Clear at slow speed”. The flag must be flown from any vessel that has diving operations going on which restricts ship’s maneuvers.
- Surface marker buoys (SMB): Good for signaling boat drivers of your location while performing the safety stop or ascending. SMB makes boat drivers see you from far at the surface. The Yellow SMB it is used more commonly in tech-diving and means emergency underwater/ need assistance (for those divers that have to spend hours on decompression stops).
It is important to know that not everyone can go diving. As fun as it is, people that choose to enjoy this sport need to meet certain requirements to ensure they are safe when diving. Here is a list of key requirements for safety.
- Pass a physical – Scuba diving is an activity that is taxing on the body. A doctor should approve an individual before they go on any diving trip. This means ensuring their heart and lungs are in good physical condition. It is typically not safe for people with high blood pressure, breathing problems, or excessive weight to go on such a trip.
- Get Scuba certified – Getting a Scuba certification provides the diver with the information required to understand how to monitor their scuba equipment, understand proper breathing procedures, as well as understanding how to communicate with your diving partner.
- Check all equipment before hitting the water. It is better to find errors or problems with your equipment when on dry land then in the water where it could potentially cost you your life.
Once you have made it into the water it is important to remember everything you have learned as well as respecting the waters in which you are diving. To maintain your safety it is essential to do the items listed below.
- Never dive alone – Always dive with a diving buddy. Never wander far from your diving buddy or guide. Keep them in eyeshot at all times.
- Equalize the pressure in your ears on a regular basis this helps prevent damage to the inner ear.
- Do not hold your breath when ascending. Breathing as normal as possible is essential for diver health.
- Monitor equipment – keep an eye on your oxygen tank and depth of dive.
- Never ascend or descent too quickly.
Scuba diving is a thrilling underwater activity that is dangerous without taking proper safety precautions. Learn your safety rules and make your diving experience a pleasant one.