Diving 101: Safety Guideline for Beginners
As a diving instructor living in Indonesia, one of the best diving spots in the entire world, I meet lots of people who would love to go on a dive but are nervous about the health and safety aspects. I meet even more people, unfortunately, who are so keen to start diving that they completely ignore the health and safety aspects, potentially putting themselves in danger.
My job isn’t just to take people on the trip of a lifetime – it’s also to imbue them with a healthy respect for the ocean and everything that lives within it. Here’s my advice, one that I dispense daily in the course of my work, written down to help out beginners to the wonderful world of diving.
Find a quiet spot to dive
If you’re a beginner diver, you don’t want to be overwhelmed with crowds the first times you dive. Those same crowds might also scare off the marine life, therefore cancelling out the very thing you came for.
My favourite diving spots of all time are Padang Bay which has amazing dive sites, and Nusa Dua which is great for those who love isolation. Moreover, those amazing locations are just scratching the surface of all Bali has to offer – but you really should do some research before you book your diving trip.
To be a diver, you really have to be quite physically fit. Cardiac-related deaths make up at least a quarter of all diving deaths, so please don’t become a part of the statistic.
Undergo a physical examination before taking up diving as a serious hobby, and absolutely ask your doctor if there’s anything at all in your health records that could make diving an overly dangerous experience for you. Even if you’re given an absolute all-clear and told you’re healthy, you still have to listen to your body at all times and never get complacent in your health. If you have a cold or the flu or are even just tired from partying, don’t dive. And don’t dive if you’ve been drinking. Just don’t risk it.
However, bear in mind that it’s not impossible to scuba dive if you’re disabled. There are many centers and resources for disabled people who want to try diving.
Plan ahead and stick with your buddy
Before you go diving, you should have planned out every last detail, including how deep you’ll go and how much air you’ll have in your tank when you ascend. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, ask your diving instructor. Never be afraid to ask us questions in fact – it’s what we’re here for.
You should have a diving buddy who goes under with you (It’s best if this is someone you already know, but it doesn’t have to be). You should pre-arrange hand signals with them beforehand, as obviously you won’t be able to converse underwater. Keep your diving buddy in sight at all times; don’t swim off the second you spot something interesting. If you do lose them, slowly ascend to the surface to regroup.
Go slowly and relax
It can be scary diving for the first time, but you simply have to relax your body and, if needs be, remind yourself that diving accidents are incredibly rare. If for any reason you start to panic, alert your buddy and your dive instructor and slowly start ascending. That ‘slowly’ is very important when it comes to diving – ascend too quickly and the nitrogen bubbles forming in your blood will make you sick with decompression illness or ‘the bends’. That’s one thing you absolutely, definitely do not want.
Ascend at 30 feet per minute max, and you should be fine. Then, take some time to rest before diving again.
Diving is fun, the best kind of fun in the world in my opinion, but it’s not a sport for the careless or arrogant. Always follow your instructor’s advice – it’ll save you ruining your holiday with a spell in hospital instead of underwater.