Scuba diving is a great warm-weather pastime for water lovers who want to enjoy the beauty at the bottom of the ocean, but it’s not without risk.
Anything from faulty gear to human error can mean a tragic end to your scuba vacation, but there are ways to avoid those risks. Understanding how your scuba equipment works, breathing techniques and even your own personality can help you stay safe in the water. Most importantly, if you are a beginner, it’s important that you go diving with a trained, certified scuba professional who knows the local waters well.
Here are some dangerous diving stories to remind you what not to do, whether you're a beginner, an occasional diver or one of the 17.5 million certified scuba divers worldwide, according to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.
Trust Your Dive Buddy
Scuba diving with a dive buddy may be more fun than doing it alone, but it’s also a safety net in case you encounter what could be a life threatening problem. Of course, you’ll have to find a buddy you can trust. That way if you have problems with your own equipment while you’re under water, you’ll be able to practice buddy breathing, an emergency technique in which two people alternate using one valve for oxygen.
You may want to make sure that you can trust your buddy, however. Diver Christina Mae Watson of Birmingham, Ala. couldn’t even trust her own husband to look out for her during their vacation in Australia. Even though David Gabriel Watson was trained to rescue scuba divers in a state of panic, according to an MSN report, he left her at the bottom of the ocean to die. He claims that, while she was in distress, his wife of just 11 days knocked hisdive mask off in a panic and he left her to get help.
Do a Health Check
If you have sinus congestion, a heart problem, asthma, a nervous system condition like epilepsy, you’re on certain drugs, you have a family history of heart attack or stroke or you’re pregnant or you get seasick, scuba diving might be too risky for you.
Dive Gear Recalls
Even if you have brand new equipment or you think yours is safe, you may want to check for any recalls that may apply to your gear. A significant number of recall warnings issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission cover diving gear parts and attachments, dry suit inflator hoses and other items.
In one case involving gear that was later recalled, a diver in Los Angeles died after a hose insert dislodged and ended up restricting the diver’s air flow, according to the CPSC.
Watch the Clock
Since you’re diving with limited oxygen, it’s important to pay attention to your air supply while you’re under water to make sure you’ll have enough for your way back to the surface.
Last summer, a couple of scuba divers lost track of time during a dive and one of the two drowned, reports the Scuba Herald.
Know the Territory
Just because you’ve been diving before doesn’t mean you’re prepared for all diving environments. Divers seeking abalone, for example, may find themselves in kelp-infested waters which could pose a hazard of entanglement and drowning. In one case, a man was caught in kelp that ended up trapping his head under water, killing him, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.