I recently came across a blog post on the PADI website talking about five common mistakes new divers make. As I read through it, I thought it was actually applicable to divers of all levels. Everyone makes mistakes—that’s part of human nature. The training we undertake and safeguards we put in place, such as always diving with a buddy and performing buddy checks before a dive, help us to uncover mistakes before they become problems.
While the list PADI has put together may have its own little PADI sales pitch (it is PADI after all), the underlying messages are important and worth taking to heart.
Rushing: Have you ever heard the phrase “No job is so important that you shouldn’t take the time to do it safely”? This phrase should apply to everything we do, and diving is no exception. Skipping a buddy check, putting gear together too quickly, or descending too quickly to catch up with a group or for any other reason is a recipe for disaster. Be sure to take your time, stop and think, and don’t push yourself. Your dive buddy or group will understand, and if they don’t, it’s time to find a new buddy. (See our previous blog post on how to pick a good dive buddyJ)
Not investing in personal gear: There’s no doubt that having your own equipment that you are comfortable with and know inside and out plays a role in diving safely. If owning gear isn’t in your budget, be sure to rent gear from a reputable dive shop and always check it thoroughly before heading into the water.
Holding back when you have questions: We all learn by asking questions, and often times there are others around us who have the same question we do. If you have a question or need clarification, ASK! Learning more about our sport is fun, and most divers are more than happy to share their knowledge with others.
Doing too many things at once: There’s a lot to think about when we’re under water: monitoring your air, maintaining good buoyancy, following a compass heading, just to name a few. As you become more interested in certain aspects of specialty diving, begin to integrate things slowly and start with one at a time. Attempting your first night dive while learning underwater photography and trying out your new equipment for the first time is sure to overload any diver, regardless of experience!
Delaying a dive after certification: It’s no surprise that the more we dive the more comfortable we’re going to be. If you prefer to only dive once a year on a winter holiday or only during the summer at the lake, or have taken some time off in between dives, your skills, knowledge, and comfort will fade. Your PADI certification is good for life, but you need to practice your skills to keep them sharp. Signing up for a refresher course or coming to the pool to practice before getting back in the water after time away is a great way to make sure your first dive back is just as good as the last one!
No matter what our experience level is, how comfortable we are with diving, or how many dives we have under our belts, keeping these five common mistakes in mind every time we dive will not only help keep us and our buddy safe, but will serve as a reminder to other divers around us that we can never be too careful!
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Have fun and dive safe!