Scuba diving is an activity with many benefits and few risks. It requires specialized training, however, and should be undertaken only after learning about proper safety gear and techniques.
Staying underwater for extended periods
Scuba diving is when a diver stays underwater at great depths for extended periods of time using compressed air in tanks. A diver can stay underwater for up to an hour, and may explore areas deep below the ocean’s surface that are inaccessible to snorkelers.
It works by placing scuba tanks on your back, which are then connected to regulators (mouthpieces) that provide you with oxygen while you’re submerged in water. Because the air pressure is less than it would be on land, the amount of oxygen in each breath is higher than normal.
The deeper and longer you dive, the more nitrogen you absorb into your body and the greater your risk of decompression sickness, or “the bends,” becomes.
Compression sickness is known as “the bends” because it causes a painful stiffening of joints, muscles and skin. In severe cases, symptoms also include nausea, vomiting and confusion. If left untreated, decompression sickness can lead to paralysis or death within hours after surfacing from a deep dive.
Using oxygen tanks
Breathing from an oxygen tank sounds simple; however, if you don’t balance the pressure by exhaling through your nose, your eardrums could burst.
There are two main ways to breathe underwater. The first is with a full-face mask, which has a built-in air tank that provides both oxygen and air pressure. You can also use a snorkel, which is basically just an extended mouthpiece that allows you to breath normally while submerged. However, both of these methods pose a risk of ear injury if not used properly: when breathing from an oxygen tank or through a snorkel, you must exhale through your nose to equalize the pressure in your ears so that they don’t burst from overinflation. If this happens too often—especially during deep dives—you could end up with ruptured eardrums and permanent hearing loss.
Water pressure underwater
As you go deeper, the water pressure increases and sound travels less distance. As it does so, communication becomes more difficult. This is why at depth divers often use hand signals or “sign” language to communicate with each other; without proper training in these techniques, it would be very difficult to understand what’s being said underwater if you’re not an expert diver.
The same holds true for lights and cameras—the light from your flashlight will become dimmer as you descend into the depths of the ocean, making it harder to see your surroundings.
Specialized training and safety gear
It is imperative that you know how to use your equipment and follow the rules of diving safety. You must be trained in order to scuba dive safely, as it is a dangerous activity.
In order to prevent serious injury or death, there are some things you need to know about scuba diving:
- You will need specific training in addition to scuba certification in order to dive safely
- There are several types of specialized equipment that make up the basic “equipment package” for underwater exploration and recreation (which may include a mask/fins/snorkel)
- The basic kit includes a tank with an air regulator, regulator hose and mouthpiece; an inflator valve (a device used for inflating BCs); weight pockets; octopus (secondary regulator); primary regulator assembly with hoses; buoyancy compensator jacket or vest; dive computer; fins
The world is a beautiful place, and there’s no better way to see it than through the eyes of a scuba diver. When you think about it, scuba diving is an amazing experience that challenges your body and mind in ways most people will never know. It’s also one of the safest sports around!