Statistics show that recreational scuba diving is about as safe as swimming. Certainly there are potential hazards, which is why you need training and certification. But like driving a car, as long as you follow the rules and use common sense, it’s pretty safe. To put it in perspective, the drive in your car to go diving is more dangerous than the diving. More people die playing basketball each year than scuba diving!
To ask, “how safe is scuba diving?” one could easily answer with another question, “how responsible is the scuba diver?” Scuba diving is a sport with risks, like every other sport. What makes scuba diving seem riskier than other sports is the fear associated with drowning and the nervousness using a scuba system as “life support”. Many people are afraid of water, afraid of sharks, afraid of relying on a strange contraption of hoses and tanks to provide air in an airless environment. In reality, scuba diving is not as dangerous as people seem to believe and in those rare instances of a scuba fatality it is almost always shown diver recklessness was the cause.
Here are 7 Tips to avoid accidents.
1. Dive within the limits of your training. Every year, divers who have never taken a wreck, cave or cavern class die inside cave systems. Nearly as often, divers without proper training die inside the overhead environment of wrecks, too. Get proper training before attempting any dive above your skill level.
2. Get the right gear. Whether it’s wearing the correct exposure protection for conditions or making sure you have the specialized equipment for a cave penetration, the right gear can make a world of difference. All life-support equipment should be properly maintained, serviced regularly and inspected before every dive.
3. Take a refresher course. Even when diving within the limits of your training, take a refresher course to shake off the rust from a long lay-off. A little time spent in the pool before you take that trip-of-a-lifetime vacation will pay big dividends. You’ll dive safer and you’ll have more fun because you will be more confident.
4. Get rescue certified. Every diver should know how to respond in an emergency, but the primary benefit of this class is that it will teach you to be responsible for your own safety.
5. Practice safety skills. Practice critical dive skills, such as flooding and clearing your mask, recovering your reg, sharing air, etc.
6. Stay in shape for diving. See your doctor about any medical condition that may limit your ability to dive safely. Maintain a level of general fitness so you’re prepared to respond to any conditions.
7. Stay within your personal safety envelope. Don’t make any dive you’re not comfortable with. There is nothing wrong with saying no, at least until you have the chance to get the appropriate training.