There is a threat at the heart of diving, an opponent so deft that we may not have a chance to fight back until it is too late.
This factor is present in nearly everything we do, but underwater it could mean your life. This unnoticed opponent is simply, complacency. I have been working here and there on a series of articles for ITS in regards to diving, but after a personal experience, I want to bring this one to the forefront.
A couple of weeks ago I fell victim to a dive computer malfunction. I’d used my computer on over 50 dives without a second thought on its reliability, and nearly paid the price. You see, over the course of the last year, I’ve become rather complacent.
While using my computer without incident, I began to omit things that I deemed unnecessary for the dive. Unfortunately, this dive I had opted out of my dive watch and my dive tables. I guess in a manner of sorts I am lucky because I was able to notice that I had fallen 12 minutes into decompression dive before my computer went on the fritz. Using what I know from past limited-decompression dives, I headed for the ascent line and made additional safety stops.
Equipment and Procedures
Most dive charters use their own scuba tanks for the customers, as well as provide gear for a minimal cost. This can pose some minor problems for divers that typically use their own scuba gear due to the unfamiliarity with the rental equipment. Hopefully, prior to getting on the boat, you’ll have time to go over your rental gear with your buddy.
At the very least, discuss your out of air scenario thoroughly before entering the water. Make sure your dive is properly planned, and please, be realistic with yourself. Diving outside of one’s abilities often leads to unnecessary deaths. Editor’s note: A great mnemonic device for diving is “plan your dive and dive your plan.” Make sure you also carry some form of surface signaling device and make sure to ask when the batteries were last changed in the rental lights and computers.
I want you to think about a moment in your life when you may have skipped something you thought was unnecessary, only to come out alive. Certainly you’ve been in a situation that you looked back on and said, “man, that could have gone terribly wrong.” Think about what you would have done differently if that situation did end up a disaster.
I’d also like to add some friendly advice to those diving in foreign countries. I understand the UK and the US primarily hold the same standards for diving. Some of the more remote or far off countries may not though. I know for certain that there are PADI five star dive centers all over the world, but unfortunately, I cannot speak to any of the other diving agencies.
If you plan to dive with a charter that is not sponsored by such an agency and you plan on diving with their rental gear, here are some friendly tips:
- Inspect rental gear thoroughly before diving, check for corrosion or rust anywhere on the gear.
- Be sure to turn the tank on and make sure the air contains no smell or odor of any kind, as this may mean contamination.
- Face your dive buddy with all of your gear on and go over your emergency scenarios.
- Ask the dive charter when the batteries were changed in their computers and lights, if necessary, buy your own new batteries. It’s a shame to “waste” the money, but is your life not worth $10?
- After your gear is set up and ready to go, test all inflators, purge buttons, and regulators prior to entering the water.
- Most importantly, have fun and be safe. Diving is an adventure that should be shared by everyone.
Make sure you divers don’t turn my mishap into your nightmare. I have been diving for 11 years and have been in many bad scenarios, but this is the first time I have been wholly responsible for my own endangerment.
I urge everyone here to get their gear serviced regularly, and change the batteries in your computers and lights often. Diving is a great experience, but don’t let complacency prevent you from enjoying it.
ITS Tactical cannot be held responsible for any attempts at any form of diving without first seeking professional training and advice. The following article is not intended as a replacement for proper training and equipment used in any water sport activity. Diving is inherently dangerous, and introduces a unique set of risks not typically present in everyday life. We urge you to seek proper instruction from a qualified, and certified agency before attempting any sport requiring a life support system, namely: SCUBA. It is likewise very important that you contact your health care provider before attempting any training classes to ensure you are in good physical condition. Those with pre-existing medical conditions may be at a higher risk for certain complications that may become present while SCUBA Diving.
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