There are many common practices amongst scuba divers that help to ensure the safety of yourself and your fellow divers when you are out on a trip, from making sure that you clean your snorkeling equipment to learning how to signal to your fellow divers using hand movements, every diver will tell you that there are certain unofficial procedures that are in place to help divers work hard together to ensure their safety. One of the most important parts of scuba diving would be to make sure that you ascend properly and safely when you reach the surface.
It is often overlooked within diving that you must take care and take your time to ensure that you ascend in a safe manner. If you are diving in groups, you should also be checking on your teammates and making sure everyone is okay to ascend to the surface together and enjoy the rest of your day without an incident. I will be looking at the different ways in which you can ensure your own safety as well as that of your teammates when you come to the point in your dive that it is time to ascend to the surface. There are many procedures involved when it comes to making your ascent safely, and it isn’t as simple as you may think.
How to be Safe When Ascending
One of the most important things to remember when you start to make your ascent is that you start it as early as possible as it will take time for you to reach the surface. You should be very mindful of your oxygen levels at all times during your scuba dive in order to make sure that you have plenty of breathing time to make it out of the water. It would be best if you always left earlier than is actually required as there are several factors that come into play. You should also be very mindful of your surroundings if anything is blocking your path or anything that could be a threat to your safe ascent.
Another way to ensure that you are as safe as possible when you start to ascend would be closely monitoring the rate you ascend closely, either using a depth gauge or a diving computer. You should make sure you can clearly see the rate you are rising at before you begin moving. When ascending from a lower depth, you should not exceed theory feet per minute when you ascend, rushing opens you and your dive partners up to more risk, so you should take your time when you ascend so that you can be sure about your safety and monitor your ascent rate closely.
As you get closer to the surface, the pressure changes at a more rapid pace; this is why it is recommended that divers are extra careful during the last twenty feet of the ascent. The key to any ascent is to take your time and to focus on safety rather than who can ascend in the quickest time. Many divers often rush and make mistakes as they near the surface due to the relief of finally making out from under the water; however, the increased pressure levels increase the risk of injury, so you should be taking your time until the final moment when you reach the surface if you want to make sure you are as safe as possible.
Ascending With Other Divers
When you are on a group dive, you should be taking time to make sure your group follows your lead and is mindful of all of the safety risks involved when you are ascending. With any aspect of group diving, you should be using hand signals to communicate with the other divers who are with you so that everyone is on the same page with the diving plan. Ascending is no different, and even those who are beginners in scuba diving should be able to use the hand signals required to communicate an ascent plan. Many courses for scuba diving in Florida for beginners cover the basic hand signals to convey a message for other people on the dive, so you should be proficient with this no matter your skill level.
One thing that should be avoided at all costs when it comes to ascending from a dive you are on with another diver or group is that you should never begin an ascent without confirming your peers that it is the right thing to do. Simply use a clear thumbs up hand signal and wait for confirmation from your buddy that they are aware of the path you are going to take on your ascent and wait to see that they will follow you up. Buddies are great within diving as you can both watch out for each other’s safety; however, it is only effective if you have clear communication skills.
Take Your Time
Your ascent is not something you should rush; provided you have followed my advice and left yourself plenty of time and oxygen to make your ascent, you should take your time and gradually move up to the surface. Before moving, you need to take a minute to assess the area above you for any risks or debris that could affect your ascent path. Once you have made sure that the path is clear and that any other divers in your group are aware of what you are doing, you can begin your ascent; many divers rush into things and burn through valuable amounts of energy by rushing. Don’t be afraid to make safety stops on your journey to help conserve energy levels that are needed to get you to the boat or the shore; using small fin kicks, you can make a controlled ascent that is safe and that doesn’t cause any injury that has the potential to hinder your scuba diving career.