Assess your fitness to dive:
Medical Fitness: Be vigilant for signs of acute illness (such as congestion), and familiarize yourself with the risks and essential precautions associated with any chronic diseases from which you may suffer. If you are experiencing an acute illness, refrain from diving until you regain your normal strength and stamina.
Physical Fitness: Being physically fit to dive means that you have sufficient aerobic capacity, cardiovascular health and physical strength to meet the demands of the diving environment. You should be able to fight a current, perform a long surface swim and assist fellow divers should anyone experience an emergency.
Monitor your air supply:
Running out of air is the most common trigger for diving incidents. Check your gauge regularly, and remember that exertion and anxiety can both affect your air consumption.
Practice buoyancy control:
The most common injuries among divers are related to buoyancy issues. Good buoyancy control begins with proper weighting; the amount of weight you select should allow you to descend, not make you sink. Pre-dive buoyancy tests are crucial for determining proper weighting.
Use properly maintained gear:
Dive equipment is life-support equipment, so it must function properly. If you are renting gear, remember that the quality of rental gear varies. Research the dive shops at your destination before settling on one, and check that the gear has been well maintained and inspected.
Take personal responsibility:
Never rely on the experience of other divers in the group. As a certified diver, you are expected to recognize when elements are outside your capacity to dive safely. It is your responsibility to acknowledge and voice concern.
Dive within your training:
Your certification only qualifies you for the same diving conditions and environment in which you were trained.
Never be afraid to call a dive off. If you or any of your companions are feeling uncomfortable for any reason, don’t get in the water.
Plan your dive; dive your plan:
Learn as much as possible in advance about currents, depths, marine life, entry and exit points, surfacing techniques, boat traffic, environmental concerns, available surface support, local laws and regulations at your dive site.
Inform someone not on your trip about your dive plan and expected return time.
Review hand signals and coordinate maximum depth, maximum bottom time and minimum air supply with your diving companions.
Discuss what you and your buddy would do if you were to become separated, exceed your planned dive or experience an emergency.
Create an emergency assistance plan (EAP) with emergency contact numbers, information about how to get to the nearest medical facility and essential first-aid equipment.
Disclaimer: The Emergency Guide is provided as a reference only. Every effort has been taken to acquire and publish accurate information provided by medical authorities. In case of emergency, always call or have someone CALL 9-1-1.
Information provided by Divers Alert Network (DAN).
For more information, visit DAN.org/Health.