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Are you Dive Ready?
Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 3:40 PM
Joined: 15/07/2014
Posts: 1

Preparation is the key to reducing risk when diving. As a dive professional, it is easy to see how on occasions even experienced divers will make mistakes. Quite often, this can be due to a simple lack of preparation, and perhaps, a certain level of complacency. No two dives are the same: expect the unexpected. 

Having a structure to your planning and preparation helps. Making sure you know that all your divers are fit for diving; that the dive site is suitable for their certification level; that you know where the nearest emergency facilities are and how to contact them; that the dive equipment is serviced and ready to go. These are all key to reducing the risk.

The most important safety feature in the water on any dive is you. When I plan a dive in a new location, with people I haven't been diving with before I ask myself several questions:

1) Am I fit for diving? This sounds like such an obvious question, but I have seen too many divers lie about their fitness because they don't want to miss a dive. I have had parents who wanted to change their daughters asthma question on the medical from a yes to a no so that they didn't have to see a doctor; I know people who have suffered adverse affects of the medications they failed to disclose; I know students who have lied on every medical through to their Divemaster course only to then be told on their mandatory visit to the Doctor that they must never dive again.

With this in mind, before each dive I reflect back to these times and ask myself "if someone was to have a problem, am I going to be able to assist them?". To answer this question you need to know how far you are likely to swim, if there is current and what other hazards or challenging conditions you may encounter. If diving from the shore with a choice of a steep ladder or a long swim to a beach, are you fit enough to assist another diver? It is also important to flip this question around: if you have a problem will the other divers be able to assist you?

2) Is all the equipment ready and suitable for diving? I know my dive kit has been freshly serviced by a reliable and qualified technician, but what about the other divers? Dive kit must be serviced in accordance with the manufacturers' recommendations: this is generally either on a one year or two year basis; the correct service kits must be used; the work must be completed by a qualified technician.

Again, I have many anecdotes of things going wrong where key "life preserving" equipment has not been maintained properly, or divers have deemed themselves suitably qualified to service their own kit. Regulators which have had the wrong sized o-rings put in; a second stage which came apart underwater because it hadn't been tightened correctly; BCD's which immediately deflate because a diaphragm wasn't replaced; and you'd think anyone can change a mouthpiece, but I certainly won't forget the expression on a divers face as the second stage slowly drifted away from her whilst the mouthpiece remained in her mouth because the cable tie was loose. Let's not forget the lady who did the right thing by getting her regulators serviced, then promptly used them in 5C when they were rated to above 10C causing them to free flow. Check your kit is suitable for the dive you want to complete!

3) Is all safety equipment ready for diving? Has the O2 kit got the right amount of pressure? Is there a suitable first aid kit? Do you have access to a defibrillator? If you are on a boat are there life jackets and flares? Do you have a suitable form of emergency communication: phones; VHF radios? More importantly - do you know how to use it all?

Fortunately the use of such equipment is not a regular occurrence. Because of this it is almost more important to make sure that your skills are up to date. Take some time to practice and recap what you know.

4) Am I prepared for the conditions of the dive? Just because you have 1000 dives in the Caribbean doesn't mean you are prepared for all types of diving. If you are the person in charge of other divers and you are anxious about the conditions of a dive - don't do it! Diving should be fun so if the conditions are challenging for you with your experience, image how they must be for the other divers. Task loading is something that all divers should be very cautious of. Doing a night dive, or drift dive, or deep dive are all great fun in their own right. Combining all three? Perhaps not such a good idea especially if you have uncertain divers.

There are always alternatives. Whether it be a different site, different time, different ratios.

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