It seems simple enough to dive underwater and have fun doing so, but there are so many things to bear in mind if you want a safe and trouble-free diving experience. Take, for example, scuba diving, for which you will need breathing equipment to go underwater. Of course, not like any other form of diving, scuba diving requires you to carry your own breathing gas, or compressed air, to keep alive while underwater.
For any underwater scuba dive, you will need a wetsuit, dive mask, a tank of compressed air, a hose for your air, a gauge to tell how much air you have left, a mouthpiece, and a dive regulator to balance your air flow.
If you are diving with help from the surface, you will also need a diver’s umbilical connection that supplies air from a vessel on the surface, from the shore, or from a diving bell. The main advantage is that your breathing gas supply will last much longer than that of a scuba diver. You will also decompress safely.
There are different types of diving that you may find interesting.
Let’s take saturation diving, which is done with help from the surface. You will need to stay in a saturation environment underwater for a long period and be decompressed at the end of the stint. Diving in this way actually helps to reduce the chance of getting the “bends” or decompression sickness.
Then, there is recreational diving which you do for fun or sport. This is quite popular and many persons find this kind of diving easy to do. Diving for fun is best done in shallow areas, but if you want to go deeper then you will need to have more endurance to meet different underwater challenges that may come your way.
You will definitely need skill and experience to carry out professional diving. Being a professional diver means you are diving commercially or for such activities as marine research. Pretty exciting, isn't it?
As a scuba diver, you will be able to move around underwater with the help of fins attached to your feet. Of course, to do so you will need weights to manage your buoyancy, without which you will float to the surface.
If you're using an open circuit scuba system you will expel breathing gas in the surrounding water as you exhale. For this, you may use a diving regulator attached to your cylinder which has your supply of high pressure breathing gas. You may also have another cylinder with decompression gas or breathing gas for emergencies. With a closed circuit or partially closed circuit rebreather, you will be allowed to recycle the gas you exhale. With a rebreather, you can spend a longer time underwater on the same amount of gas you would have consumed if you were using an open circuit scuba system.
Ladies, if you are worried about diving, you can actually dive in almost any condition. Be careful to avoid diving while you're pregnant or trying for pregnancy. The doctors do not yet know how diving underwater will affect your unborn child.
How deep should you go?
If you're diving for fun you are encouraged to keep a safe depth of no more than 130 feet or 40 meters. That's what most scuba entities recommend. Of course, if you're just learning the ropes then you don't need more than 60 feet or 18 meters of water. If you are more adventurous or are into saturation diving then you may go deeper, up to 1,752 feet or 534 meters and up to 2,000 feet or 610 meters. However, you will definitely need special gear like an atmospheric dive suit to go that deep.
So, what would prevent you from going as deep as you like?
Here’s a story:
In Sept. 2014 an Egyptian diver went about 1,090 feet deep and set a record in the Guinness World Book of Records. That means no one, except for a South African scuba diver who did so in 2005, had ever gone deeper than 1,000 feet. This diver took twelve minutes to descend the distance equivalent to the height of New York's Chrysler Building but took the rest of the day, that's over 14 hours, to get back up. The reason? He had to decompress during his ascent to avoid the crippling effects of decompression sickness or “the bends.”
How to avoid trouble when diving
So you see, diving underwater is not without hazards. It is important to follow instructions carefully as well as to observe safety rules while under the sea. A common sign that you might be in trouble is an ear ache. This occurs when the air outside your body and the air inside your ears are imbalanced. You can simply "pop" your ears to restore the balance in air pressure.
Talking about pressure, do you know that the underwater pressure also affects how you breathe? This is so because the underwater pressure squeezes your lungs and reduces their air capacity. As you go deeper down, you need more air in your lungs. At the same time, your body takes in more nitrogen the deeper you go. You will need to be careful how much nitrogen your body absorbs as too much will cause what is called nitrogen narcosis. When that happens, you will become confused and unable to think straight. That is dangerous especially when you're already too deep underwater.
Divers are also familiar with another hazard called the "bends", which is another name for decompression sickness. On your way back up from your dive you must come up slowly and observe stops to prevent the hazard of decompression sickness. Imagine opening a can of soda and seeing the bubbles fizz. That's the same effect on your body if you ascend too rapidly and the nitrogen in your body reacts to decreasing water pressure. You will experience excruciating pain in your joints and other parts of your body, which without immediate medical attention might kill you.
Of course, with adequate training, and equipment you will be able to know and avoid these perils. A good tool to have in your diving kit is a reliable dive computer that will tell you how much time you have left in your dive, how much air remains, and how fast you are going. Of course, a good dive computer will also tell you much more so that you can have a safe and enjoyable dive.