We are all capable of making mistakes. It’s just that mistakes made underwater, where we can’t breathe, have a tendency to go bad a lot faster than on the surface. Plus, they are much harder to communicate underwater. So sort out your “stuff” on the surface before hitting the water and you’ll be far more likely to enjoy your dive the way you planned it. Not that this is an exhaustive list, but here are a few of the more common mistakes we see made and how to avoid them with a little awareness and prevention.
Neglecting health considerations. As divers, we have an obligation to maintain good health. An annual physical (with a physician familiar with dive medicine) for anyone over 35, or any time there is a noticeable health change, is recommended. Your mental health and readiness to do the dive is just as important as your physical health to diving safely. Don’t ignore stress and anxiety as factors in dive planning or calling a dive. Far too many mistakes are made by divers who are distracted. Know yourself and your limits.
Exceeding your personal safety envelope. The more dive experience you have, the more knowledge you build on skills needed to dive safely. As you make more dives, you will be better prepared to meet challenges that may occur on a more complicated dive. Build up to bigger dives and ensure you have the appropriate training and experience.
Poor buddy communication. Clear communication is integral to a safe dive. Be aware and alert to your communication all the way through from pre-dive planning to completion of the dive. Go over signals and talk through the dive with your buddy before the dive. Be even more diligent when you are diving with a new buddy, and don’t assume they will use all the same signs as you know. A primary example is how other divers will communicate their tank pressure to you. There are many different ways, so just sort on the surface which method you’ll use.
Not practicing critical skills. This needs to be done often. Whether it’s managing equipment related issues or alternate air drills, don’t compromise here, especially if you are diving with someone you haven’t dove with before. A little practice may save your life, or the lives of others.
Not accepting personal responsibility for the dive. Each and every diver has equal responsibility for the conduct of the dive. Everyone should be aware of what is going on during the dive, and be prepared for any situation. Make sure you have the right gear for the dive, and don’t be afraid to call a dive if you or someone isn’t properly prepared. Most problems can be avoided with a little pre-planning and common sense.