Humans are by nature a complacent bunch. When taught something new, we do all the steps every time, but after a while, we start taking things for granted. We push the envelope to see how far we can go. This translates into most things we do where there isn’t a mechanic in place to ensure we always follow all the steps and do things correctly. As in so many activities, scuba divers often become complacent about their equipment, skills, dive habits and activities. Most of the time this has no repercussions; maybe a close call here or there, and the odd dirty look from your dive buddy or dive guide. A few times though, it can cost you. Decompression illness, injury, or even death might catch the unwary, complacent diver. On deployments, they tell you complacency kills. The same goes for diving. There are a few complacency issues I’ve seen become common place, and that’s what this post is all about!
1.) Buddy Check
This one is usually one of the first to go out of the window, especially outside of a guided or lead dive. Divers simply gear up, check they can breath, and in they go, without checking over their buddy to ensure all their kit is secure and knowing where everything is. In an emergency situation, knowing what type of weight system they have, what type of octopus and whether or not they have a compass, knife or surface signal device might come in handy. A buddy check takes about 30 seconds. What’s an extra minute before you roll into the water worth to you?
2.) Gear Maintenance
By far, one of the most common issues with recreational divers is poor or no maintenance of equipment past a freshwater rinse after a dive. Masks, snorkels, fin straps, and especially regulators need to be regularly checked and cleaned. In the case of regulators, having them serviced on a regular basis is essential to keeping them in best condition.
3.) Bad Buddy Habits
Now, a ways back I covered good habits for buddies. That article is available here for those interested. It pretty much covers how to be a good dive buddy. Bad buddies don’t do the majority of things on that list. They’ll take off on their own, ignore signals, and generally make the dive less than ideal. Be a good dive buddy and keep everyone’s stress level down!
4.) Not or Skip Breathing
This is the one I’m guilty of… as are many underwater photographers. However, we’re minor offenders. Breathing is drilled into divers from day one. Always breath. Now, when I say I’m an offender, it’s because I’ve held my breath while approaching and photographing marine and aquatic life, so as not to spook them. The people this diving sin really targets are the divers who skip breath. This is a terrible technique used by some to prolong a dive to achieve maximum bottom time. This is not only unsafe, but can lead to a build up of CO2, which is never good. If you want longer bottom times, dive more often and work on your cardio.
So… Those four are the biggest bad habits I’ve seen divers develop (past not logging your dives, covered in the last article) in my career as a diver so far. I imagine there are lots more bad habits I’ll see down the line. My point though is this: don’t get too complacent. The underwater world is an alien environment that we survive in because of training and equipment. Push the envelope, but don’t take unnecessary risks and don’t do it in such a way that you increase the hazards on diving for yourself, or others.