As humans, we try to be the best we can be and Scuba Divers are no exception. However, sometimes we forget things or let emotions get the better of us, which can lead to mistakes under the water. It’s normal, we have all done it at least once in our diving careers, humans are not perfect however, knowing how to prevent these issues from happening is a good start. Remember that practice makes perfect, here are 5 common mistakes that divers and new divers make and how to avoid them…
No Buoyancy Checks
If you haven’t dived for a while, it is so common to jump into the water and get swept up by your feelings of excitement and thoughts of what you might see on your dive, that you forget to conduct a buoyancy check. There are so many factors, which can affect your buoyancy. Such as putting on weight, losing weight, what kind of wet suit you are wearing, what water are you diving in fresh water or salt water, are you using the same BCD you always use or are you renting one? If any one of these points mentioned above has changed, then you may be over-weighted or under-weighted throughout your dive, which in itself can ruin your diving experience. If you are weighted incorrectly, then this can cause you to exert excess energy throughout your dive, increase your air consumption and in the worst-case scenario, cause you to have an uncontrolled ascent. The majority of marine life injuries usually occur when a diver accidentally comes into contact with them, due to lack of buoyancy control. Remember that correct buoyancy control starts with the correct weighting and that is essential if we are to ensure our safety and the safety of the marine life surrounding us.
Do Not Maintain Gear Properly
When scuba diving, a diver is entering an environment that naturally, they should not be in. Your dive gear is your lifeline throughout a dive, so it should be treated like one. The way you can ensure that your dive gear remains at its optimum efficiency is by:
- Rinsing your gear properly after your dives and cleaning it properly before storing it away.
- Make sure that your kit has fully air dried in a shaded area before storing it away.
- Ensure that your gear is stored in a dust free environment, which is dust and dirt free.
- Check your equipment regularly for any holes, breakages or cracks.
Do Not Create a Proper Dive Plan
If you are diving with a DM (Dive Master) or a guide it is a common mistake to place all of your trust in that one person. Some divers, who are diving with a guide, don’t listen to the pre-dive briefing, as they believe that no matter what happens, the guide will take care of them. In my opinion, this is dangerous and bad diving practice as divers should be responsible for themselves. Dive plans are there for a reason, they are to prepare you, prevent and manage any dive accidents that can occur. If you are diving with a guide, make sure that you listen to them throughout their briefing. Be aware of various landmarks and currents, this will not only help you to remain safe throughout your dive, but it will also help you to become a better diver.
If you are not diving with a guide, you must NEVER ‘dive in and figure it out later’. Before you even get on a dive boat you should know the following:
- What location are you going to?
- What are the currents like at the dive site?
- Do the currents change?
- What kind of marine life is found at this dive site?
- Depths of the site
- Exit and entry points
- Is there boat traffic?
- Are there any environmental concerns?
- Surfacing Technique
Before leaving for your dive, make sure to tell someone on-land where you are going and when you expect to be back. That way, someone knows that you are out there. Finally, make sure that you and your buddy are on the same wavelength. Make sure that you have discussed back-up plans if your situation changes. Always establish your maximum depth, maximum bottom time as well as minimum air supply to finish your dive.
Diving Beyond Your Limits
Once you are a diver, you will want to develop your skills and progress. When diving you will never be short of things to learn. No diving experience is alike. However, when you are fledgling diver on a dive boat, with a lot of experienced divers, it is pretty hard to say no. However, by saying yes, this can lead you into uncharted territory, which you are not prepared for and can be extremely dangerous. It is important to remember that you are only qualified to dive in the conditions in which you have a certification. If at any point before or during your dive, you begin to feel uncomfortable in any way, you have the ability to end it there and then. Remember that YOU are in control of your own safety. Starting to explore new places is a good way to gain experience before undertaking your next diving qualification. If you are particularly interested in wreck diving or cave diving, make sure to take proper training before entering a wreck or a cave as these new environments present new dangers. In addition, first aid training or emergency first response training is always a good idea when diving, as you never know when it might save you or your buddies life.
Over Loading Yourself
With all the amazing sites and magnificent marine life to take in, many scuba divers feel the need to over load themselves with expensive cameras, lighting equipment and filters, however scuba divers already have a lot to concentrate on and by adding more, this can be dangerous for a new diver. Try to avoid doing too much when you first start out as a diver. Gain as much experiences in as many diving environments as you can before taking your photography gear with you. Practice makes perfect and once you have practiced and feel comfortable in the water and remembering everything becomes second nature to you, then you are ready to take photos. Whilst your buoyancy control is off and you are racing through your air, whipping out the camera equipment will be not only detrimental to you and your group, but also to your surrounding environment.
Do you have any tips or stories about common mistakes when scuba diving? Please share in the comments below.