Rules and Regulation of Diving

Never hold your breath

As every good entry-level dive student knows, this is the most important rule of scuba. And for good reason — breath holding underwater can result in serious injury and even death. In accordance with Boyle’s law, the air in a diver’s lungs expands during ascent and contracts during descent. As long as the diver breathes continuously, this is not a problem because excess air can escape. But when a diver holds his breath, the air can no longer escape as it expands, and eventually, the alveoli that make up the lung walls will rupture, causing serious damage to the organ.

Practice safe ascents

Almost as important as breathing continuously is making sure to ascend slowly and safely at all times. If divers exceed a safe ascent rate, the nitrogen absorbed into the bloodstream at depth does not have time to dissolve back into solution as the pressure decreases on the way to the surface. Bubbles will form in the bloodstream, leading to decompression sickness. To avoid this, simply maintain a rate of ascent no faster than 30 feet per minute. Those diving with a computer will be warned if they are ascending too fast, while a general rule of thumb for those without a computer is to ascend no faster than their smallest bubble.

Check your gear

Underwater, your survival depends upon your equipment. Don’t be lazy when it comes to checking your gear before a dive. Conduct your buddy-check thoroughly —if your or your buddy’s equipment malfunctions it could cause a life-threatening situation for you both. Make sure that you know how to use your gear. The majority of equipment-related accidents occur not because the equipment breaks but because of diver uncertainty as to how it works.

Dive within your limits

Above all, remember that diving should be fun. Never put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. If you aren’t physically or mentally capable of a dive, call it. It’s easy to succumb to peer pressure, but you must always decide for yourself whether to dive. Don’t be afraid to cancel a dive or change a location if you feel that the conditions are unsafe that day. The same site may be within your capabilities one day and not the next, depending on fluctuations in surface conditions, temperature and current. Never attempt a dive that is beyond your qualification level — wreck penetrations, deep dives, diving in overhead environments and diving with enriched air all require specific training.

Stay physically fit

Diving is deceptively physically demanding; although much of our time underwater is relaxing, long surface swims, diving in strong currents, carrying gear and exposure to extreme weather all combine to make diving a strenuous activity. Maintaining an acceptable level of personal fitness is key to diving safely. Lack of fitness leads to overexertion, which can in turn lead to faster air consumption, panic and any number of resulting accidents.

Plan your dive; dive your plan

Taking the time to properly plan your dive is an important part of ensuring your safety underwater. No matter who you’re diving with, make sure that you have agreed on a maximum time and depth before submerging. Be aware of emergency and lost-diver procedures. These may differ slightly from place to place and depend upon the specifics of the dive. If you are diving without a guide, make sure you know how you’ll navigate the site beforehand. Make sure you’re equipped to find your way back to your exit point.

Use the buddy system

Although several training organizations now offer solo diving certifications, diving alone remains an absolute no-no unless properly trained. The old adage “when you dive alone, you die alone” exists for a reason. The majority of emergency skills rely on the presence of a buddy. For example, without the possibility of an alternate air source in an out-of-air situation, you have very few options. You can perform a CESA if you are shallow enough. But in most cases, you would have to resort to an uncontrolled buoyant ascent, which would likely have severe physical repercussions.

Practice vital skills

Too often, divers allow the skills that they learn in their entry-level course to lapse over time. In some cases they never properly mastered the skills in the first place. Poor instructors may have overlooked skills due to a large class sizes or a fluke performance at the time. These basic skills are vital to diver safety. Being able to capably perform them in an emergency could be the difference between life and death. Knowing how to use your buddy’s alternate air source, how to conduct a CESA, and how to disconnect your pressure inflator hose are all vital skills in many emergency situations.