Most bucket list adventures lie in the bittersweet spot of a myriad of emotions, often the idyllic mix of fear and thrill. And first dives offer the whole gamut – the sheer nervousness as put on the suit, the fear of messing up, the surreal sights underwater and the indescribable joy as you ascend to
Most bucket list adventures lie in the bittersweet spot of a myriad of emotions, often the idyllic mix of fear and thrill. And first dives offer the whole gamut – the sheer nervousness as put on the suit, the fear of messing up, the surreal sights underwater and the indescribable joy as you ascend to the surface once again. For all those who want to take that deep-dive into the ocean, here’s what you need to know to make it a no-hiccups adventure.
Most common mistakes made by first time divers
Forgetting the pre-dive safety check
A simple but one of the most effective ways to prevent a crisis underwater is to make sure you run a safety check before you enter the waters. Often, divers rely heavily on their guide and forget to check their own diving gear and devices. Before your dive, take a minute to understand the configuration of your equipment should you need to make adjustments during the dive. This includes checking the buoyancy control device (BCD), the air gauge and regulator valve and whether the weights are attached securely to your belt. Finally go over everything once again, ensure your snorkelling gear, masks, fin and goggles are in place. Ready, set, dive.
Eating a heavy meal and drinking before you dive
What’s a beach holiday without delicious food paired with your favourite cocktail? But remember, having a heavy meal and alcohol just before the dive or even on the previous night can lead to dehydration, stomach cramps, sickness and even hypothermia while you’re at sea. Instead, have a light meal rich in carbohydrates such as pasta, eat lots of fruits like apples or bananas and hydrate yourself well before you take the deep-dive.
Diving when you have a cold
Although a minor case of sneezes and sniffles won’t prevent you from going scuba-diving, if you’re down with a heavy cold, congestion and sinus, it’s probably wise to reschedule your dive. When you have a cold and you descend underwater, your sinuses and eustachian tubes may become blocked causing difficulty in equalising air pressure and extreme ear pain. If however you do happen to go for the dive but experience difficulty while descending, immediately signal your guide and abort the descent.
Trying too hard to equalise your ears
As mentioned above, as you descend underwater it becomes important to equalise the pressure in your body’s air spaces. So, one of the guidelines given by diving instructors is to exhale through the nose against pinched nostrils. But what often happens as a result of stress is that a lot of first time divers end up overdoing it, which can damage the ear. The process of equalising should begin at the surface of the water and be continued at regular intervals during the descent and ascent. Trying too hard, or not at all may cause difficulty in breathing and you may find it challenging to maintain a balance. Here’s a pro tip: Practice as much as you can before your dive and don’t hold back from asking questions to your guide.
Not checking your air gauge underwater
An extremely common error made by first time divers is ignoring their air consumption shown on the air pressure gauge. Neglecting the air gauge can have serious consequences during the dive including running out of air. Always keep an eye on the regulator valve and tank, incorporate gas supply in your dive plan, be aware that swimming, strong currents and stress-induced heavy breathing can affect your air consumption.
Not communicating with your guide
Communicating underwater is difficult – but it is imperative that you know the signs and keep the lines of communication with your guide open at all times. When you’re a first time diver, it can be challenging to remember everything you learnt up above, but practising the signs can go a long way to avoid confusion or any miscommunication. Communicating constantly with your guide or dive buddy also helps knowing the location of the other person underwater in case of an emergency.
Lack of awareness underwater
Another common mistake made by first time divers is the lack of awareness of their surroundings. Besides keeping an eye on your equipment and communicating with your guide, it is also important to be mindful of the fact that you are entering a new territory. A lot of divers do not realise the extent of their descent, when the current pulls them away from the rest of the group beyond the training limits or even that they may be damaging diving gear and causing harm to surrounding marine life such as corals. A piece of advice? Just be present and in the moment.
Letting fear get the better of you
When you’re stressed, scared or anxious you’re not in control of your mind. And what happens as a result of this is that divers tend to do too many things at once, they’re rushing to complete the task instead of going step by step. It takes time to get accustomed to the underwater environment, your gear and other equipment. Give yourself that time to understand all the elements involved in diving and your experience will be magical, take it from me. A good diver is a relaxed diver – trust the process, yourself and your guide.
Don’t hold back now! If you’ve come this far, take the leap of faith and go for your first dive. But more importantly, stay consistent after that first dive. Having large intervals between dives means becoming rusty with your theory and practical skills. Undergo further training, join virtual lessons and schedule a dive while planning your holidays!
Flying after diving
This is a frequent occurrence for divers who want to make the most of their time on vacation. Still, it is highly recommended that you wait for at least 24 hours before taking a flight to your next destination. Here’s why: When you go diving, lots of nitrogen is absorbed by the blood and needs to be slowly released from the lungs through decompression. If you ascend too quickly, like on a flight, the nitrogen forms bubbles in your blood causing extreme pain and distress and can even be fatal.
Doing a deep tissue massage
Although a deep tissue massage sounds like the perfect way to relax after a day under the water, it will probably do the exact opposite to your body! According to experts, going for a deep tissue massage after diving leads to bubble formation because of increased blood flow and can even lead to muscle soreness and delayed diagnosis of acute decompression sickness or DCS.
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