One of the key safety messages that the New Zealand Under Water Association is promoting is; before you dive let somebody know where you are going and always dive with a dive buddy. Although we promote the buddy system as it reduces risks and improves diver’s safety, there are other factors you should consider.
Always let somebody else know where you intend to dive, and ideally you will have at least one person surface cover on the boat or shore while you’re in the water. But what will they do if you become overdue, lost or have a diving accident which may require medical attention? Consider having an emergency plan or at least talking through what to do in the unlikely event something does go wrong.
Key elements of an emergency plan at minimum should include;
- Roles and Responsibilities - Who does what, who is First Aid trained or experienced in underwater searches
- Diver Recall Procedures – Can be as simple as banging a knife on a tank or boat hull to get attention, or 4 pulls on the surface marker buoy if being used.
- Emergency Contact Details – We suggest 0800 4 DES 111 (0800 4337 111) or a Medical Diving Emergency or 111 for any other emergency number.
- Emergency Equipment – Location of First Aid Kit, emergency oxygen, etc
- Nearest Medical Facilities – Could be a Hospital, GP Practice or even Fire Station should emergency oxygen be required.
Our Underwater Adventures can take us to offshore islands or remote coastlines where medical help isn’t always quickly available should we need to call on it. Current First Aid training is an obvious essential skill for all divers to have. Shouldn’t our non-diving significant others and friends who could be supporting us as a boatperson or from the shore be first aid trained too?
Don’t dive beyond the limits of the least experienced or qualified buddy. Confident and experienced divers aren’t immune to encountering problems or getting into difficulty on a dive. Remember Dive Buddies are a Team. All divers need to be confident that they have the skills and experience for the conditions they are diving in, to help each other should the need arise.
We teach our kids that peer pressure is not cool! The same goes for us divers, the best diver is not the one that dives the deepest or the longest or catches the most or biggest crayfish. It’s the responsible and considerate diver that makes good decisions which don’t put themselves or their buddies at risk or in situations they are uncomfortable in.
When thinking about comfort levels in the water appropriate exposure protection is an important consideration, particularly as we are coming into winter and the water temperature is dropping. Don’t be too proud to tell your buddy you are getting cold and want to end the dive, once you are cold you are very unlikely to warm up again and hypothermia can set it quicker than you think. Don’t be put off by the cooler winter waters though, some of the best diving is over winter. Maybe you need to consider adding a hooded vest to your wetsuit you dived in over summer, or purchasing a 7mm wetsuit, a semidry wetsuit or maybe even drysuit.
So how good a Dive Buddy are you?