Scuba diving is a sport just like any, that comes with risks. Anyone, no matter how experienced can have a bad day or have something go wrong during a dive. However as divers, we are first trained to deal with difficulties and different scenarios, relying on your dive buddy for help. That’s why you always dive in pairs right? But, in reality all too often you’re left wondering where your buddy is when things turn ugly.
Dive like your diving Solo. We’re not saying ditch your dive buddy and dive alone. By all means stay close to your buddy and be ready to help him. But, as far as your own safety is concerned, pretend he’s not there or… won’t be when you need him, in other words be self reliant. In any emergency your most dependable rescuer is you!
Here’s how you can be a better dive buddy to yourself and others especially if you aren’t rescue certified yet-
Sharpen your diving skills
Most times you’ve already been taught the skills you’d need to rescue yourself in almost any situation, but you’ve forgotten how or don’t have practice. Regulator recovery, mask clearing, free flowing regulator, controlling an emergency ascent, switching to your alternate, unbuckling weight belts and so on are some of the things that all divers are taught. They seem easy and don’t sound like much, but you’ll be surprised at how many divers forget the most basic of skills in an emergency situation.
Since probably haven’t needed to take your scuba unit off underwater since your open-water certification or use any of these skills, it’s important to practice and sharpen the skills taught to you in training. Diving skills develop and become second nature only with practice, so on regular dives maybe at the end at the safety stop if you have air to spare, sharpen your skills by practicing them. By reminding yourself how much you already know, you’ll gain confidence to perform them if needed without undue stress.
Go Over Emergency Scenarios
Rehearsing emergencies and other situations makes them more real. It helps you visualize what they will be like and what will need to be done. It’s a rehearsal of those emergency techniques you’ve learned and practiced that brings the correct response to the front of your mind before the need arises. Learn from your peers by asking your dive master, instructor or other divers for scenarios they might have faced and if you have an queries or situations you don’t know how to cope with.
Think solo, plan smarter and rehearse before-hand how you could deal with a situation so that if need be you know how to react without wasting time looking for a rescuer.
Gear up for emergencies
Keep at hand all the dive gear and equipment you may need if you were diving solo. For example: Have your own completely redundant air source, like a pony bottle, instead of relying on your buddy’s octopus. You may want several cutting tools instead of just one, mounted so you can reach at least one with either hand in case of entanglement. A surface signaling device is important when boat diving, in case you surface out of sight of the dive boat, you should also have a whistle to draw attention. Be prepared for yourself and carry your own backups. (Read: Must-Have Scuba Diving Safety Gear)
Lastly, we recommend that all divers get their rescue and emergency response certification as there’s nothing better to develop your own self-rescue ability than learning how to rescue someone else.The focus on emergency situations and practical training for the same will not only teach you a lot but it’ll also boost your confidence and increase your comfort levels underwater.