Apprehensive about your first dive underwater? Here are a few of the more important things you need to make note of before you take that plunge.
Make your mind set:- A good dive experience requires that you get prepared from the previous day. Relax with some friends the previous evening, preferably trained scuba divers (who have already dived in the area) and listen to their underwater experiences.
It is recommended not to drink the night before the dive lest you wake up with a hangover that might turn risky while diving as it dehydrates the body.
You can also take a physical examination prior to the dive to check your body condition. If you have heart and circulatory problems, then it is better to forget about the dive until you feel better.
Train Well:- Diving in deep and rough waters, caves and wrecks etc., requires you to have at least some form of basic training before you dive. Choose from many resorts that provide certification courses in diving or do a crash course before you go in for the real thing.
Check Weather Conditions: - The last thing that you would want to go wrong is the sudden change in weather while you are diving or about to dive. Experienced divers usually don’t take this as a major concern.
However, as a first time diver you need to be comfortable before you jump into the water. Check the weather report for the day and if you feel that it is not good or may turn bad, stay back.
Be early and Double Check the Gear:- If it might make you feel better, arrive at the boat or the dive shop early. This enables you to relax and concentrate more on small pointers like signing up for the dive, checking and assembling the gear in advance and in some cases, suiting up in advance. Hence you have ample time to let all other doubts loose and stay focused on the dive ahead.
Last Minute pointers:- Just before you hit the water, the dive master or your diving companion is bound to give you some valuable tips. Keep these pointers in mind when you dive as it would relax your system when you start moving underwater.
When in the water, keep an eye on your partner and stay close together. This way, if something unexpected happens, he/she can be by your side to sort it out.
Take Deep and Full Breaths:- It happens to all of us so don’t be ashamed. Try not to panic underwater. This would cause you to use up more air and your dive would be cut short due to lack of air.
As you get more comfortable, you start using less amount of air. Don’t trash around in the water. Rather, use your legs to propel you forward while your hands are best kept at the sides of the body or in front.
Try to stay horizontal as a vertical dive position will suffer more resistance from water currents. Adjust the weight of your gear to help you move into a horizontal position as this lets you move along with the water instead of against it.
Low Visibility:- Another aspect of a proper dive is knowing what to do if the water is cloudy or if the visibility is very poor. In such cases, stay close to your diving partner, use a torch and avoid stirring up more dirt by hitting the bottom with your fins if it is a shallow dive. As an alternative, wait for some time until your eyes get accustomed to the light underwater.
Equalizing your ears:- A common problem among first time divers, this procedure has to be carried out if you want to have a safe dive. Among the methods used for equalizing the ears, you can follow the most common one called the Valsalva move. All you need to do is close your mouth and nostrils and blow out through your nose. Voila! Your ears are equalized.
Safe Ascent:- Finally when you finish the dive and are about to resurface, remember to come up slowly. Don’t make a run for it to the top as this may leave you delirious. The reason being, when you ascend, your body loses nitrogen from the blood and tissues and causes a form of depression sickness. Make it a point to ascend only 30 feet every minute with regular stops every 15 feet.
All said and done, the secret to a successful dive lies in planning and more planning. Even trivial things like use of hand signals underwater, air supply check, maximum depth of the dive etc., need to be contemplated and agreed upon.
Keep all these pointers in mind when you go for your first dive but don’t forget to stay relaxed as this is the only way you can experience the natural wonder of the underwater world.