Why do you need scuba diving refresher tips? Well, it is a requirement, or you can say a recommendation that you take a refresher course if you have stayed for more than 6 months without diving.
Experienced divers who have not dived for a long time need a diving refresher program for their and other divers’ safety. They say the devil is in the details and thus, when you have been a long time without diving, you can easily forget the little details. Tell you what now… it is the little details that we often ignore that matter.
Why you need scuba diving refresher tips
When scuba diving, you will have all that water weight threatening to crush you, the little things will matter most. And it is these little things that we forget! These little things can turn out to be serious, life threatening challenges. PADI course (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) recommends that divers should refresh their skills after 6 months of being inactive.
Here are a few things to refresh for your scuba diving safety:
Diving Physics – Scuba Theory
In scuba theory, the most important thing is to remember how water pressure affects a diver. Ok, maybe this is something that you learned when taking your scuba diving certification course, but you have forgotten it.
Diving physics is all about how the water, pressure and other factors need to be regulated when diving so that you can enhance your safety. When you are in the water, many factors change and this change affects you, your gear and your safety or lack of the same thereof.
Of utmost importance in diving physics is Boyle’s Law. This is the law that shows that as the pressure changes, the volume of the gases in your (diver) body and in your equipment also changes, but only in the soft devices like your BCD.
More external pressure means decrease in volume of the gases as you descend in the water. However, when ascending from a dive, the volume of the gases in these containers increases. Thus, increase (when descending) or decrease (when ascending) in pressure affects your buoyancy a lot.
How does this affect a diver, you ask? Well, we could say that knowing how to do your math would determine how long you will stay under water.
You need to equalize the pressure inside your body with that of the outside. The first place that you experience the feeling of being squeezed is the ears. To compensate for this, you have to pinch your nose and blow out. Your diving mask can also be squeezed closer to your face. Just blow the air from your nose into your mask.
While it may sound like boring physics, well, this could save your life! You need to know as much as possible so that you can alleviate fears that bug a person regarding how deep one can dive without being crushed.
How will you breathe underwater? Of course, you have your air regulator and all, but you still need to know how the depth and water pressure will affect the air in the tank. As you dive deeper, the molecules of air in the scuba cylinder become more densely packed and more compressed. This means that as you go deeper, more air will be consumed from the cylinder as compared to the air that you would inhale at the surface.
Molecules of air in the scuba cylinder start to expand as you ascend. You should compensate for this by releasing air. It also happens to your non-rigid air containers like the BCD. As you ascend to the surface, just breath out and release air from the buoyancy control device (BCD). This is the reason why you should never hold your breath while scuba diving as the air expanding can cause over expansion of the lungs hence causing serious injuries.
Assemble scuba gear
You should tell your instructor to help you run through the gear set up before you start your dive. You should remember to stand behind your tank as you set up your gear. The opening of the tank, air valve, should face away from you. For the air valve opening to face back of your head, put your buoyancy control device on the tank.
Knowing the list of scuba equipment that could save your life is not enough if you do not know how to put everything together. Thus, you should have a diving instructor walk you through all the steps for gear set up. Buoyancy control devices and scuba diving tank can be a hassle to get ready.
Of utmost importance though is to know how to set up your scuba diving regulator. Here are a few steps for you to bear in mind:
- You need to attach the BCD to the scuba tank
- Attach the First Stage of the regulator to the valve of the scuba tank
- Turn on the air
- Press the purge buttons of the regulator and breathe through to test the performance of your regulator
- Lay the tank down to secure the BC on top of it. After wetting the BCD straps, slide them over the tank. Just ensure that the BC is at the same level with the tank valve.
- Test the BCD bladder to make sure there are no air leaks
- Clearing your regulator involves taking a deep breath, relaxing and exhaling.
You also need to get the diving mask ready. You can use a defogger to cleanse the lens.
Basically, there are so many things that you need to do before hitting the water. For example, you also need to check your equipment for tears. Do not spare any effort with this, not with the wetsuit for diving, drysuit or even your water shoes.
Clear the mask
A foggy mask means little or no visibility in the water, and that could lead to serious accidents. Not to worry though as there are ways and means to clear your mask. When you are in the water, it is impossible not to have water seeping into your mask. However, simple physics suggests that when you have bubbles of air trapped in your mask, water will not get in.
So, to keep the simple physics alive, and clear the mask …
Lift the bottom of your mask off your upper lip slightly. You will do this by placing the middle and index fingers of your hands on your mask’s frame top part and applying pressure slightly on top of your mask, lifting it off your upper lip. The only thing needed here is a small space for the water to come out.
Look up and blow air from your nose continually and water will come out from the bottom of your mask. To ensure that no water is left in your mask, you should release the pressure on top of your mask and open your eyes slowly.
Some common mistake that you can make when clearing your mask is like lifting your mask too far off your nose, failing to look up and instead of blowing air from your nose, you blow it from your mouth. Do not do that.
Diving hand signs – Diving safety
Just like in the marines, you communicate through hand signals when diving. With the daily hassles of life, it does get a little hard to remember everything. That is why you need a refresher course.
There are so many hand signs used underwater for communication purposes. Some of the signs include the stop sign. It means just that … stop! Your diving buddy needs to adjust something, turn or do something.
The level off sign is used to control your diving friend not to descend deeper than advised. The ascend sign is used to let other divers know that you are ready to end the dive and go up. Likewise, the descend sign can be used at the surface once you have safely entered the water and are ready to descend or you can use it to tell your buddy it is safe to go deeper.
You need to work on your hand signs knowledge because you cannot open your mouth when under water. That could lead you to taking some serious gulps of salty water. You also need to understand what others are saying when they sign you.
How to equalize ears
Listen, if you do not know how to equalize your ears when diving, it will hurt like crazy and you will not love it. It is just like how you rub the baby’s back when it has fed until it burps and if you do not, then you should be ready for a long night.
But just what do we mean by equalizing the ears? It is to create some pressure inside the ears that is going to match the pressure outside. Long before you can start diving, say, like hours before, you need to start equalizing. You do this to open the Eustachian tubes that are normally closed. Just close your nose, pinch it between two fingers and start blowing gently. This will pump up some air into the tube.
As you descend, the pressure of the water increases. If the pressure in your ear canal does not match that of the water, you will be in serious trouble. Unequalized ears will hurt badly and in extreme cases, they can cause you to call it quits with your diving career.
Neutral buoyancy is that state where you feel weightless as you swim under the weight of the water effortlessly without a struggle. Right then is when you will know that you have arrived. The Tank, trim, weights and the thickness of the wetsuit are some of the factors that can affect your buoyancy.
While still on the surface, make sure you are not over-weighted and your buoyancy is correct because it can turn out to be hard controlling your breath underwater to compensate for the extra weight. This is something that your trainer can walk you through easily.
You have to get many things right. One of them is that you should let in air into your BCD in short bursts. Letting in too much air could tip the buoyancy balance and you would end up rising up the water like a rocket.
Breathe easily, learn how to relax and most importantly, have the right weights. Sounds easier than it is practically. If you take too much lead, you will descend too fast. Try adding or removing weight on the surface. As you add weight, exhale fully and then sink. If your weights are right, you should only sink to eye level.
To achieve neutral buoyancy, breathing is a key component as it will help you float. There is no need to use your hands when you are perfectly buoyant.
Controlled ascent scuba diving
If your air is at the amount your instructor told you to notify him/her, you should signal them before you start ascending. When you are ascending, the air in your CBD will start expanding. Remember, we said that ascending decreases the pressure of the water while increasing the volume of air in your non-rigid air containers.
If it is not controlled, you can easily shoot up to the surface without reaching a safety stop and this can cause decompression sickness. Keep removing air slowly and intermittently until you get to the surface. Removing air too fast can stop your ascent.
These are just a few of the scuba diving refresher tips for you. Diving safety is paramount for every diver and no matter what amount of experience you have, you can never be too cautious. You will need a refresher course where a trainer can walk you through the safety checks one by one. Thing is… when you do not dive safely, you even hamper the safety of the other divers. That is not cool!