Crossing The Road
As a kid there weren’t as many traffic lights and pedestrian crossings to assist crossing the roads and I can clearly remember that one of the earliest life lessons learnt, was how to do so safely. Look left, look right, look left again, if judged to be safe to do so, cross the road at a brisk pace, no running in case you trip. Every now and then, you’d find that you’d misjudged the speed of an oncoming car and have to pick the pace up, or that a blaring horn would alert you of an overlooked car! So what does this have to do with recreational diving, you may ask.
Running across a road without looking first, significantly increase the odds of not making it safely to the other side. The busier and wider the road, the greater the odds of becoming road kill. In the pursuit of that underwater photo, encounters with marine life such as sharks, turtles and rays, the sensation of weightlessness or the experience of simply blowing bubbles, people forget that scuba diving is potentially life threatening. Stripped to basics, you are on a life support system assembled and monitored by yourself, whilst in the alien environment of inner space. The decisions of your dive guide along with the quality of information provided by him, influences your decisions and safety, and your ride back to the beach is dependent on a functioning boat piloted by a capable captain.
Is the road starting to look a bit wide at this point? Lots of traffic? Start by seeking a reputable dive center and broaden your experience base if necessary, by enrolling in specialty courses for the type of diving activities that you’re planning to engage in, be it night diving, deep diving or wreck diving etc.
Delay diving activities if not feeling well. This is especially important if due to an excess of alcohol imbibed the night before as this significantly increases the risk of decompression sickness (DCS).
Listen to and heed the dive guide’s briefing and instructions, be sure to ask questions if clarification of the dive plan is needed or if doubtful of the dive’s suitability for your experience level. Do not overstate your personal abilities.
Always conduct your pre-dive check prior to entering the water. Are you positively buoyant upon entering the water? Do you have your weight belt on, and can it be easily ditched in an emergency? Have you adjusted and secured all straps? Have you sufficient air supply for the dive and most importantly, is it on? Have you done the same for your dive buddy? And the Mk1 eyeball test, does everything look as it should?
Sometimes the best laid plans do go awry, or Mr. Murphy (an international traveler) shows up as an unwanted visitor, so rely on your training and plan for contingencies. Carry visual and audible signaling devices such as surface marker buoys, inflatable signal tubes and whistles or air horns such as Dive Alerts. FYI, a fin held aloft can make an excellent signaling device in the absence of a signal tube and also used to splash the ocean’s surface during an aerial search.
Crossing the road can either be a very safe, or very risky action. In making the decision on whether to cross at the lights, use the zebra crossing or rely on good old looking left/right/left, it is most important to assess the relevant factors and let common sense prevail. Dive safe, let’s not take unnecessary risks!