There are many people who long to try scuba diving but who worry about the safety of doing so. While scuba diving, like anything, does carry with it some risks, it is not any more risky than driving in a car or flying in an airplane. Plus, you can significantly cut your risks by being smart about diving. Always use high quality scuba diving equipment, and, if you’re a first-timer who is going to be reliant on a diving instructor or group, make sure you choose one with plenty of certifications, credentials, experience, and training. You are literally trusting someone else with your life when you take a diving lesson, so be very selective about whom you choose.
Always Bring a Buddy!
When you’re ready to start diving without an instructor or without being part of a class, remember that it’s never, ever a good idea to go diving alone! If something happened and you were alone, who would go get help? Having a friend with you when you go on a dive could potentially save your life. Not only could a diving buddy help you to overcome equipment problems or other diving dangers, but he or she could also help to get you out of the water in the event of an unexpected emergency like a stroke or heart attack. No matter how experienced a diver you may be, diving alone is a giant no-no.
Don’t Forget to Breathe
Your diving instructor will teach you the basics of how to breathe underwater using the scuba equipment. Unfortunately, many first-time divers get so caught up in the excitement that they literally forget and/or don’t practice what they’ve been taught. Obviously, not breathing or not breathing correctly can have serious consequences, so do your best to pay attention to and to follow any instructions you are given. And, if you get in a jam or are having problems, motion to your instructor or diving buddy for assistance.
Know Your Limits
The ability to perform realistic and honest self-assessments of your own diving ability is paramount to your safety. If you’re trying to impress friends or if you convince yourself that “you can handle it” even when you don’t think you can, you’re creating a recipe for disaster. If you’re a new diver, stick to spots recommended for those with less experience—don’t just go plunging into water you don’t know about or into water that is known for being rough and turbulent. Also be sure to check water conditions on the day of the dive to make sure that the “safe” diving locale you picked out is still just as safe today as it was yesterday.
Ascend and Descend at the Proper Speed
Many diving accidents and fatalities occur due to improperly leaving or entering the water. Your instructor should cover the proper way to ascend and descend, so make sure you pay very close attention to his or her words. If at any time you feel you may be moving too quickly, don’t panic. Just stop, remember the rules, and do your best to follow them. And, if you get in a jam, you’ve got your instructor and/or your diving buddy to turn to.
Limit Underwater Time
When you first experience scuba diving, you will likely find it so amazing that you’ll want to stay underwater forever. Everyone has a limit on how long he or she can stay underwater safely. Know yours and don’t overdo it, no matter how much fun you’re having. If you’re not sure of how long it’s safe to be underwater in a certain spot, just ask your instructor for advice. If you follow these tips, your diving experience should not only be fun, but safe as well.