- 1. Never hold your breath
- 2. Practice B.W.R.A.F.
- 3. Memorize your hand signals
- 4. Always check your gear
- 5. Do a buoyancy check
- 6. Equalize as you descend
- 7. Keep loose gear between your arms
- 8. Never skip safety stops
- 9. Practice how to clear your mask
- 10. Know how to share air
- 11. Remember flight intervals
- 12. Always plan your dive
Regardless if you’re a newbie or a seasoned diver, it always helps to read a refresher about safety tips and diving guides. It’s a great reminder of the rules you have to follow to ensure that you’ll have an enjoyable plunge. So for this post, we took the time to write a short rundown of some scuba diving refresher tips you must keep in mind. Make sure that you read this one before your next dive!
1. Never hold your breath
Always follow the golden rule of diving: keep breathing! Holding your breath as you descend or ascend is a recipe for decompression sickness and poor equalization.
Remember that as you descend, your lungs contract due to pressure. When you go up, your lungs will expand back to their normal size. So when you hold your breath, your lungs will experience shock, and you stand the risk of lung explosion due to the sudden gush of air.
Also, breathing while scuba diving should be slower yet deeper than how you’ll do on land. Listen to the recordings of divers, and you’ll notice that the sound of the air takes longer on each inhales and exhales.
2. Practice B.W.R.A.F.
Buddy checks are very important when diving. You should always pay attention to the condition and preparedness of your diving body, thus the birth of B.W.R.A.F. It stands for Buoyancy, Weights, Releases, Air, and Final Check. To remember the acronym easily, divers call it the Big Whales Rarely Attract Fish check.
It’s a drill that’s done before the dive. Diving buddies will check each other if their air is connected to the regulator and if their weights are fastened properly. This drill also includes checking the releases of the gears and if each one has enough airflow. Lastly, a diver will conduct a quick head to toe check on his or her buddy before taking a plunge.
3. Memorize your hand signals
Hand signals are the language of diving. You should always know the basics like Ok, ascend, descend, stop, problem, air, and so on. This way, your buddy will know if you’re having difficulties or if the dive needs to be aborted.
Each diving club has variations on these signals, though major organizations have a prescribed set of hand signs. If you haven’t dived for too long, we recommend brushing up your hand signals first for you and your body’s safety.
4. Always check your gear
We can’t stress enough how important it is to check your gear before diving. Make sure that your air regulator is in good shape and that your fins are properly worn. Tiny details like the fit of your gloves or the placement of your mask will make a big difference once you’re underwater.
Always check your hoses for leaks and tears. When assembling your valve, keep your gauge facing the ground so the pressure won’t’ build-up and shatter the glass cover.
Any damage to your gear should prompt you to get a replacement or a repair. Never take chances, as the pressure of the underwater will not spare you.
5. Do a buoyancy check
Once you’re in the water, you must conduct a buoyancy check right away. It would help if you did this before you descend further. It will allow you to add more weight as needed so you will have neutral buoyancy.
Take note that your buoyancy will vary depending on the water temperature and salinity. Even you were buoyant on your last dive, it could change, so you might as well be vigilant.
So how do you do a buoyancy check? Inhale, then hold it. After that, let all the air in your BCD out. If you sink gradually, you have the right buoyancy. However, if you dropped like a rock, you have too much weight on.
6. Equalize as you descend
After correcting your buoyancy, you should equalize your ears as you descend. If you don’t, the pressure will mess with your hearing. Equalizing is necessary so your ears will adapt to the changes in pressure and elevation.
The drill is easy: pinch your nose and try to breathe through it firmly. The air trapped inside will escape through your ears, thus releasing the pressure.
Take note that you should equalize multiple times as you descend. If you feel something off while equalizing, swim-up a little, then equalize before swimming down.
7. Keep loose gear between your arms
Many beginner divers often overlook this one tip. When you’re underwater, you must keep all your loose gear between your arms. This will prevent you from dragging it and bringing debris up into the water. Aside from that, letting your loose gear dangle around may harm marine life.
Also, it’s a matter of keeping you safe. Getting tangled in a coral will cause a hiccup in your diving route. It will also force your diving buddies to stop.
8. Never skip safety stops
If you are to ascend, you should always observe safety stops. This is part of proper decompression, where you allow your body to adapt to the pressure and elevation. Consider it as equalization, but without the need to pinch your nose.
You must take a safety stop at 15 to 20 feet from the surface. It’s important to stay at this depth for at least 5 to 15 minutes to let your body expel nitrogen that has accumulated in your issues during the dive.
9. Practice how to clear your mask
If your mask gets foggy underwater, you have to clear it to prevent accidents. Still, there’s simple science to fix this problem.
Just lift your mask from your upper lip slightly, enough to have a small space for water to escape. After that, look up and blow some air through your nose until your mask is water-free. Avoid lifting the mask too far from your nose when clearing it. Also, always look up and never blow the air through your mouth. You can also find a high-quality full-face mask that doesn’t get foggy easily and makes your underwater experience unforgettable.
There are times when you or a fellow diver will run out of air underwater. Air sharing has to be done before or while ascending. If you’re running out of air, signal to your buddy, and he or she will give you the octopus regulator. Some will use a primary second stage for this.
It would be best to practice air sharing before diving, both using the octopus regular and the primary second stage. Take note that your diving buddy should also know how to breathe properly to avoid accidents.
11. Remember flight intervals
Divers should always observe flight intervals before hopping on a plane. A 12-hour surface interval should be observed for a short and no-decompression dive before getting into a flight.
On the other hand, divers who performed multiple no-decompression dives on a day should have a surface interval of at least 18 hours.
Lastly, if your dive required safety stops, you must have a surface interval of at least 24 hours or so. This is to prevent altitude sickness and other risks.
12. Always plan your dive
Most importantly, always plan your dive. Don’t dive on your own or dive without a concrete route. You should always have a buddy or a guide to check on you while underwater.
You and your diving buddies should also assign a minimum air level, so all of you will know if it’s time to ask for help. If you’re diving in an unfamiliar spot, you should always get a briefing from a local dive leader.
Never hesitate to cancel a dive if there are imminent risks. Remember, it’s never too late to cancel a plunge if your safety is compromised.
These scuba diving refresher tips are just some of the points you have to remember before taking a plunge. As much as you may know all these, it always pays to brush up to ensure your safety.