Scuba diving safely
Scuba diving is an awesome experience. Granted it can be a little limited in the murky waters of a Leicestershire gravel pit - but in the crystal waters of the Adriatic, the Pacific and a whole range of other locations, it's a true journey into inner space that's teeming with life and adventure.
That having been said, Scuba diving is a dangerous sport. That makes travel insurance or Scuba insurance a no-brainer! Mistakes usually go unforgiven and inadequate preparation or skills can land you in hospital quicker than you can say ‘get me out of here'. However, with good planning and good training, you'll have a spectacular time enjoying the next best thing to a space walk. After all, why do you think astronauts train underwater?
Follow our Top Tips for Scuba safety and make the most of your time underwater!
- DO take out the right water sports insurance or travel insurance with water sports cover.
- Make sure it suits your needs before you buy it.
- Keep your emergency medical helpline number to hand as well as your policy number.
- ALWAYS be qualified first - that usually means taking and passing the internationally-recognised PADI open water course.
- You can take this before you travel and it comprises a theory exam and a practical test, usually in a swimming pool though note that open water certification is only awarded after completion of a number of dives in the sea, a lake or similar.
- DO ask your doctor for a medical exam before you learn to dive - you don't have to be Duncan Goodhew but basic fitness is a big help, as is being a competent swimmer.
- NEVER dive in dangerous waters - respect the sea and only ice, cave or wreckdive if you're qualified to do so as they require special training and expert skills and may require specialist scuba insurance (this is not available from Aviva).
- Check what type of diving your travel insurance policy covers.
- NEVER dive alone - always dive with a ‘buddy' so you can watch out for each other.
- ALWAYS listen to and follow the rules, safety warnings and guidelines, set by whoever is in charge of the dive.
- ALWAYS check your equipment carefully.
- Check your kit is working properly and has been tested recently - especially if you are hiring gear.
- Check for comfort and fit.
- DO be familiar with diving first aid - know the signs and symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustion and hypothermia.
- ALWAYS know local weather conditions before you dive and make sure the water and weather conditions are safe.
- If there's a storm, get out of the water and get onto dry land.
- Water is a brilliant electrical conductor and a lightning strike will put you in peril.
- DO become familiar with the indigenous marine life where you are diving.
- Depending where you are, most sea-dwellers are harmless but some are not.
- NEVER touch a fish you do not confidently recognise.
- Steer well clear of sharks, rays, eels and all jellyfish.
- Lion fish and stone fish have a potentially lethal sting - know them by sight.
- DO use a waterproof sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 if diving in a hot climate.
- DO drink plenty of fresh water and don't forget your shades.
- DON'T dive at night unless you're qualified to do so and don't dive at dusk - it's feeding time for larger predators!
- And note that you may need to be accompanied by a qualified instructor or dive master in order to be covered by your travel insurance.
Lastly, if you're diving in waters known for sharks, try not to take a leak underwater - it's like banging the dinner gong!