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Scuba Diving Safety Explained

Mar 17, 2008
Safety, while extremely important underwater, is just as important to a diver above water. Many of the accidents with which divers come in contact occur either before or after the actual dive. Let's categorize the prevention of these accidents as either mechanical or behavioral, and deal with each in turn.

Mechanical Maintenance

a. Cylinders

1. Have all diving tanks tested every five years in accordance with ICC regulations. The cylinders are hydrostatically tested, with the date of the last testing stamped into their surface.

2. Never fill cylinders beyond their rated pressure. This pressure is also stamped into the surface of the tank.

3. Transport, handle, and store diving tanks with extreme care. These tanks, when charged, are a potential bomb, if mishandled.

4. Keep tank valves closed when tanks are empty, so as to avoid moisture inside tanks.

5. Keep a piece of tape over valve orifice when not actually in use, to act as a retainer for the o-ring.

b. Regulators

1. Rinse regulator in fresh water after every use. Particularly after use in salt or chlorinated water.

2. Carry a spare o-ring on yoke screw.

3. Hang regulator to dry with hoses downward after use.

4. Never immerse regulator in water without first being sure dust cap is tightly in place.

5. Regularly inspect hoses for tears or punctures.

6. Treat regulator gently. It is a piece of precision equipment upon which your life depends.

c. Spearguns

1. Never bring a loaded speargun above water.

2. Shield points of all spears so that none will be impaled upon them.

d. Masks, fins, suits, inflatable devices.

1. Wash off with fresh water soon after using.

2. Never store in area of intense heat or in direct rays of sun.

3. Protect from contact with oil.

4. Visually check frequently for condition. With inflatable preservers, inflate frequently to verify safe condition.

5. Prior to storage, powder with a non-oil base powder.

Behavioral Safety

Due to the cumbersomeness of diving equipment in general, many divers tend to overload themselves on their treks to the diving site. Thus, nasty falls, or merely sheer exhaustion contribute to the accidents that frequently befall the careless diver. Rather than run this risk, make a second, or even a third trip from the car to the boat or dive site.

Once at the boat, ready to load, consider the weight and bulk of the equipment to be loaded, as well as the number of people. All too many boats have been swamped because they were overloaded. Once the load limitations have been decided, be sure all gear is either lashed down or safely secured so as to prevent loss overboard in rough weather.

Divers should acquaint themselves with the preparation and handling of small boats, for from such they will most often be diving. Nothing can compare to an irate boat liveryman, (and understandably so), who finds that through a careless diver's handling of a tank he now has a major repair job ahead of him.

Once the diving site is reached, the diver should enter the water with a minimum of penetration, particularly if the waters are unknown. Above all, the DIVERS FLAG should be flown prominently. The divers should dive using the "buddy system", with a safety man in a boat overhead rowing over their bubbles. This will enable the divers to ascend near their boat while minimizing the possibility of their being run down by unobservant boaters.

Over-exertion should be guarded against before, during and after dive. Know your own limitation and stay within them. Remember, while diving you use the buddy system. Your life is in your buddies hands, as is his in yours. The buddy system carries with it a sacred obligation, the obligation to act as your "brother's keeper", and to go to his assistance if necessary. Don't treat this responsibility lightly.

Thus with a bit of common sense, you can make every diving trip safe.
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