In a previous article I proposed ten tips for planning your overseas dive trip. Well, the planning is over, and you have arrived at your tropical dive destination for the holiday of a lifetime. Here are some tips to make the whole experience safer.
None of these suggestions should surprise you, but occasionally common sense takes a back seat when travelling divers succumb to the urge to cram more into their short overseas stay.
Stay well hydrated
The link between dehydration and an elevated incidence of DCS is well established. You also put yourself at increased risk of heat disorders. The best hydrating liquid is water.
Excess alcohol will impair your judgement, promote dehydration, and is thought to increase the risk of DCI. Late night drinking sessions can result in an intoxicated diver on the following AM dive, as well as reducing essential sleep.
Do a complete equipment check before EVERY dive
This rule is especially important in places where your dive guides assemble your gear for you. As much as it seems like a luxury to have someone else do it, assume NOTHING until you have personally checked. Are all of your straps correctly positioned and tightened? Is your cylinder full? Is your air properly turned on? Are both demand valves working properly? Does your BCD inflate? Are your computers turned on and functioning? Is your mask sealing? Do your torches work? A few minutes pre-entry ensuring that all of your gear is rigged properly, fits comfortably, and is working, is time well spent. Repeat this before EVERY dive. Never assume that your gear is right just because it was OK when you last used it.
Do an extra safety stop
With all of the added risks of DCI for travelling divers, a few extra minutes spent off-gassing in 3-5 metres could be time well spent. Besides, it is rarely a chore in tropical water.
Limit sun exposure
Many a tropical trip has been ruined by sunburn, or by problems associated with overheating. Cover up if you are outdoors, and frequently apply sunscreen.
Have a half day off mid-trip
Multi day diving has been identified as a potential risk factor for DCI, as your levels of residual nitrogen never have adequate surface time to drop back to normal. Give your body a chance to re-set itself by having a scheduled break. This break takes on even more importance if your diving program has you doing four or more dives in a day.
Dive within the limits of your training and experience
Stick to depths and profiles you know you are capable of doing. Unless you are suitably trained, limit overhead diving.
Don’t scare yourself…or anyone else
If you do, you are diving in an unsafe manner, and you are inviting problems.
Know when to say NO
If a dive sounds beyond your capability, it almost certainly is! Do not be influenced by peer pressure, or bullied by dive guides. Be assertive in speaking out if the operators or your fellow divers are trying to persuade you into dives that exceed your abilities and your levels of comfort. These could include dives that are deeper than you want to go, dives in current, or dives into overhead environments such as wrecks and caves.
NEVER overrun your safe limits
When you reach your air cutoff point or your agreed bottom time, declare it to your buddy and the dive leader, and begin your ascent. Resist any peer pressure to extend your dive beyond what you believe to be safe limits.
An overseas trip should be a hugely enjoyable and memorable adventure. Help to make it so by being sensible about known risk factors that could lead to bad experiences.
Article by DAN AP Director and Instructor, Stan Bugg
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