One of my brothers co-workers recently contacted me about doing some SCUBA diving this summer. I am excited as well as a little nervous. It is always nerve wracking to go diving with a new buddy, you don’t know there experience level other then what it says on their certification card.
I am fairly confident in my diving ability due to the amount of time that I have spent studying diving and the hours I have spent underwater. Since SCUBA diving involves life support systems everyone needs to be on top of their game.
Most students start out SCUBA diving by trying it out either in a pool or on a tropical vacation. This is usually a good first experience with diving but it doesn’t really delve into half of the dangerous situations that can happen underwater.
In my experience most recreational SCUBA instructors fail to place the proper feeling of danger into diving. I can understand this since they are instructors to make money but I fear for a lot of divers that are not adequately trained. Diving is one of those activities that can go wrong in a heart beat.
One of the things that most dive schools do teach and teach well is dive planning. Dive planning is the part of every dive that can decide if you live or die. The planning itself is pretty straight forward: we are going to go to this depth, stay for this length of time and then surface.
The problem lies in when you deviate from the plan. Most diving injuries that I have heard about come from staying to long at a given depth. This leads to Decompression Sickness, which is bad news. DCS is not necessarily deadly, mostly it damages tissue and breaks bones. Getting DCS is a great way to get a trip into a decompression chamber, which is an awesome experience if you are not in incredible amounts of pain.
These deviations tend to occur when the person in charge of bottom time loses track of how much time they have spent underwater. The first time this happens you will panic especially if you are below forty feet. Most recreational divers rarely venture below the forty foot mark, this is especially true in Colorado where most of the diving takes place in lakes throughout the state.
Another factor that can make this lake diving difficult is that viability is pretty much crap. A foot is average with some of it creeping closer to mere inches. This makes keeping track of your buddy even trickier since you can lose your buddy if you glace away for a second.
I realize that I make it sound as if SCUBA diving is too dangerous to be undertaken by ordinary people. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just feel that people should be aware of what they are getting into and that it isn’t a 100% safe sport. Few people die of SCUBA diving accidents every year and almost everyone can be traced to a lack of planning and deviating from the dive plan.
I think that everyone should experience SCUBA diving at some point in their life. Floating perfectly neutral in water is one of the most amazing experiences in the world. I would love to be able to explain exactly what the feeling is but until you experience it for yourself you will never understand. For all the potential dangers that you may experience, if you are smart and follow the rules you will make it out of the water safe and sound every time.
Happy Birthday Liz!!