Scuba Safety 101

Kristen Bailey

Rules

1. It is permissible to dive deeper on your second dive than on your first, and to dive deeper on the later part of a dive than on the early part.


2. The Recreational Scuba Training Council, which sets many industry standards, dropped its minimum age requirement for junior certification near the end of 1999. As a result, PADI, SDI, SSI and NASDS (which has since merged with SSI) dropped their minimum age requirements for junior certification to 10. Ten-year-olds can get a PADI Junior Scuba Diver, and 8-year-olds can enjoy PADI's Bubblemaker and Seal Team programs, which are held in a pool in less than 6 feet of water. SSI has a pool-only "Scuba Ranger" program for 8- to 12-year-olds.


3. Ascend no faster than 30 feet per minute — one foot every two seconds.


4. Make a safety stop at Bthe end of dives. That means you should pause at about 15 feet for a minimum of three to five minutes before your final ascent to the surface. Some experts recommend safety stops as long as 10 to 15 minutes under certain conditions.


5. Become neutrally buoyant before beginning your ascent and maintain neutral buoyancy throughout.


6. In a no-air emergency, depend on a redundant system or your buddy's octopus, or make an independent emergency ascent. Do not attempt to "buddy breathe" from a single regulator unless you and your buddy have practiced it.

Fun Facts

  • Ten-year-olds can get a PADI Junior Scuba Diver, and 8-year-olds can enjoy PADI's Bubblemaker and Seal Team programs, which are held in a pool in less than 6 feet of water. SSI has a pool-only "Scuba Ranger" program for 8- to 12-year-olds.
  • Most of us were taught that a snorkel is mandatory gear on every dive, just like a pair of fins. But many divers have came to the conclusion that a snorkel, when attached to your mask, is more often a hazard than a help.
  • The dive computer is probably the most important safety advance in the sport. Much more important than a snorkel, and arguably more important than an octopus, a dive computer is often considered mandatory equipment today. "Virtually all divers now use dive computers to make diving safer and more enjoyable. Why not establish that practice from the beginning?" says CEO Bret Gilliam. "Dive tables have simply been supplanted by advances in technology."