Poor habits can creep up anywhere in our daily lives. We are all guilty of them and that’s why New Year’s Resolutions are created. However, when it comes to scuba diving which for most, is primarily a recreational sport, a poor habit can turn something fun and interesting into a potential loss of gear, loss of dive time or worse. Newer divers may have forgotten some skills or haven’t quite mastered them and more experienced divers may have just become complacent. No matter where you are in your dive experience, we should always hold ourselves and others to the high standards of diver protocol and there should never be “wiggle room” or poor substitutes.
We spend a lot of time, money and effort on diving which is why we should invest in doing a few cursory checks to ensure that we will have an enjoyable and safe dive each and every time we do that giant stride into the water.
Poor Habit 1 – Skipping the buddy check
Checking your buddy’s gear or anyone else’s that is near you for that matter, should always be practiced. You never know when a brief look over can save a dive or save a life. We all remember PADI’s mnemonic device BWRAF (BCD, Weight, Releases, Air and Final Check/Okay). However you remember it, just make sure you cover all of the basics. Simply checking an O-ring to see that it isn’t dried, cracked or frayed can make a huge difference. Of course, the more difficult and technical the dives are, the more detailed the pre-dive checks get. Just ask yourself the following: Are you and your buddy streamlined and is everything secure? Is your air on and is your regulator and inflator functioning properly? Is your Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) holding air? Do you have all of your equipment? Do you have the correct exposure protection?
Poor Habit 2 – Wearing the incorrect amount of weight
We constantly see divers with too much weight or not enough weight. Recording your weight with your gear configuration for certain dives will save you precious air and give you a longer dive time. Too much air will force you to constantly add and take out air throughout the dive. You will be struggling the entire dive if you don’t have enough weight and you will waste time and energy looking for rocks without any growth or life on them to stick in your suit or BCD. Take a couple of moments to do a quick weight check. Remember, when you purchase a new wet suit it will have more positive buoyancy than your old one. Different types of tanks and BCDs will also change your buoyancy.
Poor Habit 3 – Neglecting gear service
We all want our hard-earned money to last as long as possible but please don’t be too frugal on getting your gear serviced annually or when you notice a problem. Your regulators are your life support system. Something as simple as a salt or sand crystal can jam something up and you can lose a dive. It doesn’t take much to keep your dive equipment in good working order. Talk to your local dive shop technician on how you can further the life of your gear. It first starts with rinsing and storing properly. We offer a very extensive PADI Equipment Specialist Course. It covers, history of gear, all of the different types of gear and the advantages and disadvantages of them, how to maintain gear, how regulators and BCDs work and more.
Poor Habit 4 – Poor/Lazy Buoyancy
New and experienced divers alike should always continue practicing their buoyancy. Good buoyancy control allows you to have a much longer and more enjoyable dive trip without damaging precious aquatic life. If your breathing, fin kicks and buoyancy are in check, marine life is more likely to stick around for you to enjoy. No one wants to hang around when someone is bouncing up and down, silting up the visibility and making a bunch of noise. A good start is practicing buoyancy during your three-minute safety stop. We also offer a PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course that goes well with any other dive course you may be taking. We will work on breathing techniques, efficient fin kicks, and weight placement and can assist you with hovering/buoyancy techniques.
Poor Habit 5 – Complacency
Think of this as the Number One Poor Dive Habit and How to Avoid It because this basically includes all mistakes. Many of us dive year-round, others just once a year but sometimes, when we feel very comfortable, we feel as though we can take shortcuts. With diving this can be a huge mistake. Follow these simple rules for safe, enjoyable dives for your entire life.
- Never dive beyond your level of training and experience. We have all heard of open water divers diving where they weren’t supposed to go or experienced divers cutting corners.
- Don’t cut corners with your equipment ever! We have all seen or heard of stories of people not diving with crucial pieces of equipment, such as a Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG) or analyzing their enriched air.
- Don’t dive your No Decompression Limit (NDL) or partial pressure limits. There is a maximum and a contingency for a reason!
- Plan your dive, dive your plan.
- If you are not feeling up to a dive, REMEMBER, anyone can call a dive at anytime, for any reason, no questions asked.