Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the general pace of life, many of us haven’t had the chance to get under the water for a while. NZUA wants to ensure the safety of all divers so we’ve put together a checklist to consider before jumping back in.
1. Are you fit and healthy?
If you’re over 45, or have underlying health issues, it is recommended to get a dive medical before returning to diving. Diving does require a level of fitness. If you have changed or started new medications since your last dive medical seek advice from your GP prior to diving.
2. Have you checked your gear or had it serviced?
Gear should be serviced in line with manufactures recommendations - but at least annually. It’s important to do self-checks before you get in the water. Look for corrosion or any cracks in rubber, or any other sign of damage. Check the charge level of dive computer batteries. Check the condition of your wetsuit or drysuit to prevent exposure or hypothermia issues.
3. Do you need a refresher?
If you haven’t dived for an extended period of time, it’s advised to take a refresher course. Most dive centres offer refreshers with a variation in prices and types to suit your needs. They aren’t expensive are potentially a lifesaver. All dive courses are a great way to find new dive buddies!
4. Know your dive site / dive to your limits
A shake-down dive at a known dive site is recommended to ease back into diving. Avoid challenging or technical dives at first. Dive with a buddy who knows the site and review the location for dangerous currents or hidden dangers prior to diving.
5. Make sure you have a dive flag
This one’s pretty straightforward. Shore dives or boat dives regardless. The minimum legal flag size is 600mm high by at least 600mm long. It must be clearly visible from at least 200m away, even when there is no wind.
6. Know your bag limit and sizes/ catch bag etiquette
Information for specific species and regions can be found on the MPI website. May sure if you’re collecting kaimoana that you don’t clip your bag onto yourself. It causes a risk of snagging and can’t be dropped easily in an emergency. Avoid overfilling your bag too.
7. Dive with a buddy and keep together throughout the dive
If you lose your busy look for no more than a minute and if can’t find them, surface.
8. Check your weighting/ air
Before descending to a weight check to ensure you float at eye level on the surface while holding a normal breath. That little bit of extra padding around your waist from lockdown may have changed how much weight you need and you don’t want to be over-weighted. Also if it’s been a while your air consumption may have changed. Make sure to be extra vigilant of air use, don’t rely on history.
9. Ascend slowly from your dive
Ascend slowly from every dive and stay within your dive computers maximum assent rate and less than 18 meters per minute. Make a safety stop at 5 meters for at least 3 minutes after every dive to reduce your risk of decompression sickness.
1. Are you fit and healthy?
Same as for scuba, don’t forget the level of fitness required for underwater activities.
2. Have you checked your weight?
Again, has easy access to the pantry during lockdowns had its way with your waistline? Make sure to do a weight check before starting the dive.
3. Ensure you have a visual float/buoy/flag
Freedivers and spearos need to tow a float/buoy to avoid getting hit.
4. Dive with a buddy using the 1 up 1 down method
One person should be on the surface whilst the other is down. Don’t both go down together.
5. Don’t point your speargun at anyone.
This one should be self-explanatory…
6. Don’t go deeper than your comfortable
Don’t push yourself, ease yourself back into the underwater lifestyle.
7. Beware of the risks of shallow water blackout
Shallow-water blackout or freediving blackout is when the diver loses consciousness because of a lack of oxygen to the brain. If immediate rescue doesn’t happen, the diver could drown. This emphasises the importance of diving with a buddy using the one up one down method.
NZUA is excited for the upcoming warm weather and remember, you can’t get COVID underwater!