Diving + Technology = Complacency - ITS Tactical

Shop the ITS Store!


Diving + Technology = Complacency

By Derek Gill

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.

Closing Notes

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.

Are you getting more than 14¢ of value per day from ITS?

Thanks to the generosity of our supporting members, we’ve eliminated annoying ads and obtrusive content. We want your experience here at ITS to be beneficial and enjoyable.

At ITS, our goal is to provide different methods, ideas and knowledge that could one day save your life. If you’re interested in supporting our mission and joining our growing community of supporters, click below to learn more.


  • Mike

    what would be a good knife to have?

    p.s., this helps me a lot since my new job will allow me to Scuba

    • Depends on what kind of diving you do. Cave divers carry small z knives, wreck divers carry multiple large knives and shears, recreational divers carry small BC mounted knives and Rescue divers carry a large leg knife that can smash windows.

  • Christian Nadeau

    Good article and definitely something to keep in mind. I dive with a computer all the time (and with a back-up when possible) but I also plan most of my dives using tables. Keep track of when your gear was last serviced and ask questions if you must rent.

    To Mike, it depends on what your job requires, but it is always a good idea to have at least two cutting devices. I would suggest a mid-size knife with a blunt tip so it can be used at a screwdriver or prybar, and to prevent you from accidentally stabbing yourself. For the second, a pair of EMT shears is a good choice. They can cut through a lot of stuff really easily and can be used with one hand (in case your other is tangled). Once you decide what to get, think about where to carry it/them. It/they should be located someplace where you can reach and deploy it with either hand easily

  • Brett

    If you’re interested in making your diving experiences safer, better, and more consistent, I’d recommend looking into DIR diving.


  • Adam

    Its also a good idea to check your own and your buddies alternate air source on the first dive once you are in the water. If the diaphragm leaks it will appear to work fine on the surface, but you’ll be sucking water in an emergency. (This can happen quite easily with rental gear)

    • Adam

      I prefer to dive with a set of EMT shears. Its much easier to cut monofilament line and gear straps with these and in an emergency you’re more likely to cut yourself or your buddy with a knife.

  • I carry EMT shears personally. Most countries if you travel will not let you carry knives. Besides knives tend to attract fishing line… its strange. As far as knives though, the SOG SEAL pup is a good choice.

    Now for you DIR divers. Don’t dive with me. I have DIR tendencies, but I have very strong personal reservations about DIR. I feel like I do what works best for me. I carry waist pockets, extra D-rings, and I most certainly keep my wings bungee’d. Wings of death? come on…

    DIR is great for cavers… I recommend you try what works for you, but keep your rig tight. I’m going to go write an article on that right now…

  • julio delahuerta

    Hey Bryan, glad to hear it was just a close call.
    The most valuable lessons are not always the most expensive:-)
    Many more years of safe diving to you!

  • rtwrench

    Christian makes some great points on the type and usage of knives. I would like to add do some research before buying a “dive knife”. Most look flashy but are almost comical in size, function and attachment. As a commercial diver I NEED a good knife that holds an edge (longer than stainless), isnt bulky or has a sheath that is that is difficult to use with one hand. I use a one hand opening folder, I test its opening ability with 3 finger gloves on. It has a carbon steel blade with a serrated and straight edge. Put an elastic band around it so it doesnt open on its own and put silicone grease on the blade to prevent rust. Use a key ring thru the handle to a locking carabiner or swivel bolt snap. I have done this for years in salt and fresh water and it works just fine.
    Heres a cheap trick I learned from Aqua Culture divers. Go and buy a $10 steak knife set and pick up some rubber hose that the knife fits into snugly. Make sure that the hose is longer than the blade!! Zip tie a clip on it or tape it to your SPG or what ever you want. They are a throw away knife but will be there if you need it.
    PS: NEVER use those cheap aluminum carabiners that are found on key chains. They get caught on everything which means YOU are now caught.

  • Adam

    Its also worth making sure you have something hard and metallic on hand like a metal pointing stick or big carabiner you can use to bang on your tank and attract your buddy’s attention underwater. It can sometimes be hard to get your buddy’s attention in an emergency if they are a bit further away from you.

Do you have what you need to prevail?

Shop the ITS Store for exclusive merchandise, equipment and hard to find tactical gear.

Do you have what you need to prevail? Tap the button below to see what you’re missing.