While you can enjoy scuba diving as a solo activity, it is not advisable to do it alone, especially for inexperienced divers. Group diving helps you learn the ropes, minimizes any risks of accidents, and improves your chances of survival should there be an emergency. Think about out-of-air situations, cramps, or random equipment failures; you always want to have someone with you to prevent any unwanted results. Plus, it is still great to share the remarkable experience of exploring the ocean and talk about precious memories after that.
However, when doing buddy group diving, everyone’s responsibility grows bigger, same with the number of mishaps that can happen. It is very essential to follow the nine rules below to have a safe and enjoyable diving experience.
In This Guide
- 1. Take the required courses and practice vital skills with the group.
- 2. Make sure that everyone is physically fit.
- 3. Plan your group dive.
- 4. Check each other’s gears before submerging.
- 5. Make sure that everyone is using the proper breathing technique.
- 6. Dive within the limits of your dive computer.
- 7. Consult each other’s gauges regularly.
- 8. Be aware of dive signals in the group.
- 9. Ensure that everyone will ascend adequately.
- What’s Next
1. Take the required courses and practice vital skills with the group.
Everyone in the group must have taken an entry-level course to learn the necessary diving skills. Make sure that each one has mastered all the techniques that were discussed. These lessons include topics such as performing ascents, learning to use your buddy’s air source, or controlling buoyancy that is all vital to your safety.
If you have participants whose skills have already lapsed through time, you can always ask the group to practice and refresh everyone’s skill set.
2. Make sure that everyone is physically fit.
Even though you can find yourselves relaxing when underwater, diving is actually a physically-demanding sport. Remember that you have to do long surface swims, face strong currents, and carry heavy gears. Certain health conditions may also arise at depth due to water pressures.
Lack of strength and stamina may result in overexerting your physical capacity, which can lead to panic, faster air consumption, and eventually, accidents. If possible, have everyone consult their doctor beforehand. Everyone in the group must be physically-fit to ensure individual and overall group safety.
3. Plan your group dive.
Taking ample time to plan your group dive is necessary to ensure your group’s safety once underwater. Decide how long the dive will be, how deep your group will go, and which direction you’ll take before submerging. Also, discuss the state of tides, currents, and what the visibility will likely be. See to it to tackle emergencies and corresponding signals and protocols you’ll do. The plan should be agreed upon and clear to everyone.
4. Check each other’s gears before submerging.
You can always check your own gear, but it is still advisable to have other’s inspect it again for you. This act is necessary to ensure that you have not missed out any critical equipment and that everything is in good working order. Plus, you get to be familiarized with your own kit and other’s kit too. For instance, you’ll know where each of the group’s alternative air sources is located, is it switched on and running and how easy it is to get to.
5. Make sure that everyone is using the proper breathing technique.
See to it that everyone is aware of one of the most crucial rule in diving – not to hold your breath. Doing so may result in serious injuries or even death. When you hold your breath underwater, the air in your lungs will begin to expand and can rupture the walls in your lungs. Breathing continuously eliminates the risk of over-pressurization in the lungs during ascent and descent.
6. Dive within the limits of your dive computer.
A dive computer is a great tool most divers use to avoid decompression sickness. This device provides real-time depth and time information about your dive and links to a decompression system to measure the dissolved nitrogen in the body. It also helps keep the group aligned with their initial plan.
While it is okay for a buddy group to share a single dive computer while diving, it is not advisable for inexperienced divers as there are instances where other participants may wander off the group. Small differences in depth, ascent rate, and time can cause massive problems.
7. Consult each other’s gauges regularly.
One of the most common problems divers face underwater is running out of air. This happens commonly among beginner divers. Based on statistics, insufficient gas is the most common cause of death of divers.
To avoid any danger, make it a habit to check each other’s air gauge on a regular basis. This will let everyone know how much air you have been using and how much there is left for the group to continue the dive.
Cross-checking every five minutes is recommended. However, diving deeper may need more frequent checks as you go deeper into the ocean. You will breath denser air when you’re at 35 meters compared than what you do in 20 meters.
8. Be aware of dive signals in the group.
The best way to communicate when underwater is through hand signals. Most of the standard signals used are the up and down thumb signal which implies ascending and descending or the okay sign to check if everyone in the buddy group is okay. There is the air-check signal for you to check how much air you still have.
However, there are also signals which hopefully, your group will never to use. These are the signals used for emergencies like ‘out of air’ signals. Everyone should be wary of these signs before submerging and make sure to watch out for all divers in your groups should anyone need help.
9. Ensure that everyone will ascend adequately.
Ascending slowly is required to ensure that the nitrogen absorbed by your bloodstream have enough time to dissolve as pressure reduces when going to the surface. If not, bubbles will quickly accumulate in your bloodstream and may lead to decompression sickness. If the rate of ascent is maintained at the recommended 30 feet each minute, then, the group will be fine. You can check your dive computers to see if you are ascending too fast. If your group doesn’t have one, don’t ascend quicker compared to the bubbles that you exhale.
Following the listed rules will ensure your buddy group’s utmost safety. Remember, it is easier to enjoy this exciting activity with your friends or even new acquaintances when you are away from any potential danger.