SCUBA diving is one of the most incredible activities humans can experience on Earth. With proper education and training, diving is very safe and provides the unique opportunity to explore the lesser-visited places on our planet. However, because it takes place in an environment that humans are not naturally equipped for, not adhering to basic principles can quickly turn a routine dive into a life-threatening situation. If you are not comfortable in the water for any reason, you can and should consider calling the dive. There are a variety of reasons that people call a dive, but these are our top 3 reasons to consider diving another day.
Weather conditions can change quickly, and a storm at sea is not a place one wants to be in any boat, much less a small dive boat. Stormy weather can cause a number of problems for both boats and divers. Rough seas with high waves can make boat travel treacherous and can obscure a diver’s vision, making it difficult for a diver to find the boat when surfacing. Cold fronts can cause water temperatures to drop. Because a wetsuit keeps a diver warm by trapping an insulating layer of water between the suit and the diver’s skin, sudden drops in water temperature can cause rapid onset of hypothermia. For safety, call off a dive whenever bad weather is forecasted.
Even through shark attacks on humans are rare and attacks on SCUBA divers even more so, reports of shark attacks in or around the target diving area is a very good reason to cancel a dive. Sharks tend to travel over large regions of the ocean, but can also become territorial, and at such times divers put their safety at risk by entering the water. As an example, four shark attacks took place during a 15-day period in in 1984, in the same area of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. The attacks resulted in the death of one diver and serious injury of another, with two of the attacks taking place within 15 feet of each other. While the shark experience is one that many divers yearn for, do not complete the dive if it is not something that appeals to you.
Aside from good judgement and a strong handle on their skills, a SCUBA diver’s safety depends almost entirely on their equipment. Air tanks, regulators, and hoses are obviously the diver’s lifeline, but checking to be sure their watch and compass, as well as all ancillary gear, are functioning properly is critical. All gear should be checked thoroughly before leaving the dock, but divers should also perform a secondary equipment check before heading into the water. Remember that in addition to the dive master or your buddy checking your equipment, you need to test it for yourself as well. If any piece of equipment is not working properly, the dive should be called off.