Diving is an addictive sport. It attracts people the world over to experience something abnormal – an alien world. With diving being such an adrenaline-fuelled sport, accidents are bound to happen. Along with the Divers Alert Network (DAN), we explore some of the most common mistakes that divers make when diving:
Run Low on Air
Some divers burn through their gas faster than a leaking oven – excited over a first-time sighting of a shark, nervous about losing the group. Over 18 metres deep, panicking and starved of air is a position that no diver wants to be in. Often a divemaster will ask you to check your air, but on the odd occasion that they don’t, you need to be proactive in monitoring your gauges. On a dive, you need to know three things: how much gas you have, what depth you’re at, and what your no decompression limit is. Being diligent of these factors will mitigate any risks when underwater.
A little bit of extra weight is no big deal, but being seriously overweighted – making remaining neutrally buoyant near-impossible – is dangerous. If you are one of the unlucky divers who missed out on “proper weighting and buoyancy control”, then we suggest getting a refresher course to have an instructor/mentor fine-tune your weighting, buoyancy and trim. It can happen to even the most experienced of divers, too. Instead of fine-tuning buoyancy skills, some divers stay lazy and overweighted, controlling their buoyancy with their breathing – this does no favours for air-consumption rates.
Forget to Turn on Air
It happens. Divers too excited to get into the water forget the steps of their pre-dive checks. With no air in your BCD, and no air through your regulator, a serious accident can happen fast. Always conduct a proper pre-dive check before every single dive.
Using Too Much Energy on the Surface
New divers have a knack for forgetting to inflate their BCD at the surface, then furiously kicking to keep their head above the line. Even after inflating their BCD, they often kick out of sheer instinct, tiring themselves out in the process. Make sure you inflate your BCD before entering, and when in the water – relax.
Not Equalising Correctly
“Equalise lightly and frequently” is a repeated mantra bore through many an Open Water course. It’s important to equalise when you descend. Experiencing pain in your ear? It’s already too late. Equalise every metre on your way down and don’t force it.
Letting Your Guide Do All the Work
Often, many divers let the guide take full control. Don’t let this happen. Maintain your awareness, hold your attention and have some accountability. It pays to know where you’re headed, and if there’s a danger. Because if something does happen, you are responsible for yourself.
Distancing Yourself from Your Buddy
You’re in this together. Leaving your buddy well behind, or “ghosting” them by cutting off communication, puts you both at risk. Having a watchful eye on the guy who could be called upon to save your life is fundamental. Talk over a pre-dive briefing with your buddy, and work out useful hand signals that can assist you, or them, in averting a potentially dangerous situation.
Diving Outside Your Limits
As a diver, you should never stop developing your diving abilities. There is always more to learn – how to dive new environments, how to refine your skills or even how to use new types of equipment. No matter where your diving adventures take you, make sure you are equipped with the proper training.
- Your certification only qualifies you for the same diving conditions and environment in which you were trained.
- As you continue your training, slowly extend your diving experiences. California shore diving presents different challenges than Caribbean boat diving – make sure you’re prepared for each new diving environment.
- Take it easy, and if you’re not having fun or if you don’t feel good about the dive, don’t do it. This is especially important when diving in new conditions such as cold water or limited visibility, or when using new equipment.
- If you feel uncomfortable about a dive, it may be because you feel that you’re not ready. Remember, dive your experience, not your “C” card.
- If you want to begin exploring new environments, seek the training that will prepare you to explore them safely. For instance, if you want to explore the interiors of shipwrecks or enter a cave, enrol in a wreck diving or cave diving course. These unique overhead environments present specific challenges that can be deadly if you are not trained to manage them.
Don’t neglect first aid training. In the case of an emergency, you will not regret taking a course that requires a few hours of your time. CLICK HERE to learn more.