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10 Tips for holiday divers

Jan 31st, 2010 17:12
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10 Tips for holiday divers
On a diving holiday to Australia in January 1998, two Americans, Tom 
and Eileen Lonergan, joined a group in Port Douglas, near Cairns, for 
a day's diving on the Great Barrier Reef, 40 miles off shore. In the 
evening when the boat returned, unnoticed by either the crew or any of 
their fellow divers, the Lonergans were not on board. 
Two days passed when the manager of the hotel where they were staying 
noticed their absence and raised the alarm. By the time the search was 
finally launched, it was almost certain that the Lonergans were dead. 
No one knows what happened to them, whether they eventually drowned or 
were eaten by sharks. Either way, their end is too horrible to 
Imagine. A few months later, one of diver's waterproof notepad was 
found in a mangrove swamp. In the faded writing that was still 
readable was a horrifying message. �To anyone who can help us� we have 
been abandoned� please rescue us before we die.�
All adventure sports carry risks, and diving is no exception. When 
complications arise in diving, they can quickly become potentially 
fatal with an alarming speed. Most of these are due to human error but 
can be avoided if precautions are taken before hand. Practice and 
experience do help but the key to safety is in the preparation. Here 
are ten tips to remember. 
1. Training and Practice 
Learning to dive is a bit like learning to drive. You arc not a 
competent driver when you have passed your test � you need to broaden 
your experience before you have gained true competence. You can begin 
by joining the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) that has branches 
throughout the UK and in several overseas locations. At the BSAC 
courses, diving skills are taught progressively so that each new 
experience is built upon step by step. 
2. Select Qualified Operator
When diving on holiday, you have to be dependent on your operator. If 
you are going to trust your life on their equipment and experience 
then it makes sense that you spend some time in selecting the best. 
Divers should ensure that the operator is affiliated to one of the 
main international diving associations, such as the BSAC, PADI or CMAS 
(World Underwater Federation). If possible, talk to the operator and 
get to know the depth of his local knowledge.
3. Undertake a Refresher Course
Take a refresher course before you go. Most accidents happen with 
divers who go on a diving holiday without preparing enough mentally, 
physically, equipment-wise or experience-wise. PADI recommends that 
all divers complete a refresher course if they have not dived for six 
months or longer."
4. Be True With Your Diving Record
Maintain you diving record. Before going on a diving holiday, check 
your record. Go on a refresher course if you are not confident and 
inform the operator how long it is since you last dived. Some dive 
operators would look at logbooks to establish your experience. 
5. Equipment
Use the correct equipment because to put into practice what you have 
been taught in theory is crucial � and more difficult than it may 
seem. There have been instances when a single item of the equipment 
like a diving knife can make a difference between life and death. 
Avoid cheap equipment. 
6. Buddy System
Divers depend for their safety on their fellow divers. This is why 
the "buddy system" � always diving in pairs � is taught by all the 
main agencies including the BSAC and PADI  (Professional Association 
of Diving Instructors). 
7. Make Friends with People Onboard 
Incidents similar to Lonergan have occurred not for the first time. 
People have been forgotten in the sea. If you are a holiday diver and 
no one on the trip knows you, make agreement with another member of 
the party to watch out for each other. The trip operator should be 
doing this, but arranging your own back-up plan is a sensible 
precaution.
8. Remember Your Lessons
Most accidents are caused by human error, when divers panic and forget 
what they have been taught. The most serious transgressions include 
diving solo, lack of buoyancy control, decompression mistakes and 
inexperience with equipment.  
9. Intermittent Holiday Diving
Accidents occur more frequently to those who dive only from time to 
time. A diver with the right paperwork is technically qualified, 
however long it is since his last dive. But it takes time to 
reacclimatise and techniques that used to be second nature require 
relearning. Practise makes the man perfect.
10. Are You Physically Fit?
Before going on a dive, ask yourself, if you are physically fit? Small 
instances like a bad cold can be dangerous. The pressure and infection 
on the eardrum can disturb the sensitive mechanism of the inner ear 
for life.  
All divers must accept responsibility for themselves. And that means 
never diving when there is any doubt as to their own competence or the 
competence of the operator.
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