Mask, snorkel, fins. Check.
Wetsuit, booties, exposure suit. Check.
BCD, air delivery system, weights. Check.
Full tank and buddy. Check.
You might think you’re ready to dive, and for many dives, you probably are. However, there are few extra things to consider before your next dive. Though it is nearly impossible to prepare for every situation that can arise on the water, a few small preparations can save your dive, reduce stress and provide comfort before your next dive. Here are a few simple things you can do to be better prepared for your next trip to the water.
Save a Dive Kit
You’ve heard it before and probably been told by your local dive shop that you should have a save-a-dive kit. And you should. Spare O-rings, extra fin straps, mask straps, and even a replacement mouthpiece for your regulator are great things to have with you. Don’t forget extra zip ties to hold on that mouthpiece as well as a cutting tool or knife to help you trim the excess zip tie.
Save a Dive Tool
A loose hose, a loose connection, a stuck piece of equipment – these are all reasons to carry with you a multi-tool of some sort. In addition, a multi-tool can also assist in opening that snack bag or cut into that fruit on your next surface interval. Additionally, a tool can help in an emergency, like cutting wrapping, tape, or rope.
Save a Life Kit
As a recreational diver, you probably don’t carry an exhaustive first aid kit, complete with everything you need. However, be sure that the boat you are about to embark on, does. The O2 bottle should be full, accessible and have it’s location known, in case of emergency. The same goes for the first aid kit. Something as simple as carrying ammonia to trump a bad sting can mean the difference between diving or not, or being comfortable or miserable. Bring with you a few things you might need – sunscreen, band-aids, etc. but make sure that the dive operation you are diving with is looking out for your needs too.
Do you know where the nearest hyperbaric chamber is? How about the nearest hospital? Do you have the number? Directions? When diving more remote locations, cell phones may not work, so don’t count on Google to give you all the information you need. Know before you go, and be prepared.
Lastly, have you considered writing down your own information to have with your dive gear? Consider writing down your name, birth date, medical conditions, allergies, as well as emergency contact information. Better yet, have a bracelet or other piece of medical jewelry on your person at all times, just in case!
Protection From the Elements
Sun, rain, heat, cold. These are all elements that can make or break your day of diving. On the water, the sun not only comes onto your body from the top, but also reflects from the surface. A hat and rash guard or shirt may protect your head and shoulders from the sun, but sunscreen can help protect your face, arms and hands. Consider though, many sunscreens are detrimental to our ocean’s environment, so be sure to get marine-friendly sunscreen to protect that animals which you came to see.
Also, cold weather can come up – a quick rainstorm, a gale-force wind and more. If you are a person that cannot handle waves and surge, consider that Dramamine, but know that it takes a while before it kicks in. Read the directions so you don’t have to suffer unwittingly. Weather coming in? Consider a rain jacket to cut the wind to keep you warm. Towels also are never a bad idea to have with you, for dozens of reasons.
The safety sausage, a string line, a whistle or noise making device for both surface and underwater are great tools to have. Also, flashlights. All of these tools are available to you to utilize if the need arises, and be sure to keep them tethered. Overloading yourself for a dive can result in complications, so choose your gear wisely and only take what you need for that dives you will be doing. Rough water and difficult entry? Maybe leave the camera behind and don’t forget your snorkel. Rough weather can mean longer boat waiting time as they maneuver over to you. A snorkel can help with your air supply on the surface.
Does it seem like a bad day to dive? Maybe it is. Should you go diving? Consider the factors: weather, current, wind, your personal health and above all – that gut feeling. Make a point to communicate with your dive buddies if you are not ready to dive, or need to call a dive, for any reason. Do not get ready to dive without being confident of your ability and safety before entering the water. While the other items listed above are great for helping you save a dive, common sense is the something that can save your life.
In summary, preparing properly for dives goes deeper than just the dive gear that you wear. While carrying sunscreen on a boat may not save your life, it may save your next few days of diving. Other items are self-explanatory for their uses, so consider what you need before you dive. It may save your dive, your day, your buddy or your life.