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Mistakes Divers Make Serie 2

Short Of Air? Never a good feeling.


See that needle on zero? Ok at the surface, not ok if you are still far from surface


Dear readers,


Happy Sunday! I hope you are recharging and getting ready for the coming week. Well, I think there is no such thing as getting ready for the Monday Blues but that's me.

And as always, we don't forget those on duty today!


So here come the second episode of our "Mistakes Divers Make Serie". Back in the water after a long period of time (for some of you). A few reminders would do good.


Today's topic: being "Out Of Air". It logically which follows the "Low On Air" that you all know from your diving course.


The good thing about it? It rarely happens. In fact, I never experienced it.


That said, it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Unfortunately, many diving accidents got triggered by that. There are different statistics on that topic which I am not going to share here. It will not bring much added-value and the idea is not to scare you. But think that about half of the fatal accident are related to an out of air situations (again different factors triggered that situation, not necessarily a lack of vigilance).


Hand signal reminder

Source: PADI hand signals table


How to prevent such a problem?


- Monitor your air supply. We will never repeat it enough. It has to be a second nature when you dive. You should check not constantly but regularly. There is no right or wrong in terms of timing but watch your gauge every few minutes.

Sounds a lot? Well, that's how I do it. It's about your safety...


- Plan your dive considering your gas supply. Or the other way around if you prefer, and plan your gas for run your plan. Either way, you make sure you have what you need. I know many of you will just follow the Divemaster or the Instructor. Yes they will likely know what they are doing (they probably dont want to have an accident) but your air consumption may vary from theirs. I am trying to tell you that their air consumption is only a partially valid proxy for yours. Do monitor and communicate to your buddy or to your guide what you have left.


- Keep a buffer for a safe ascent, a safety stop, any unplanned event which could force you to stay under water a bit longer and some for flottation once you surface. As you learned, you can inflate your BCD manually but it doesn't hurt to save some gaz for that and saves you efforts.


Recommandation from the "Diver Alert Network" (DAN):

2/3 of your tank for shallow dives.

1/2 of your tank for a multi-level dive.

1/3 of your tank for cave and wreck dives.


These are the ratios that you can use for the exploration, visit, fun part of the dive (call it as you wish).

So you should understand the remainder, respectivelz 1/3, 1/2 and 2/3 are used to reach your dive point, come back and do your safety stop.


- Equipment: maintenance is a kez factor for your safety. A regulator not functionning properly or not fixed properly could make you lose air (leak). In such a case, you should see it because you will notice an abnormal air consumption. Here again, watch you air gage.


What to consider?


- Depth: as you know, the deeper you are, the faster you will cosume your air. So factor that in when planning the dive. I am not suggesting you need to bring down extra tanks, just that you must monitor the gauge even more frequently.


- Tank size: an easy one. Obviously you wont take a mini tank for a deep dive right? Keep the 5 litres for beach dives.


- Your level of experience: nothing be ashamed being a beginner, Experienced divers are just beginners who are lucky since they dived more and became more experienced. Makes sense? The bottom line is to know your limits. Being less experienced could mean consuming more because you don't control your breath that well (yet); maybe you feel "pressured" diving with more experienced people, which creates stress and make you consume more, etc. If you don't feel comfortable to dive to the limits (e.g. you don't like ending a dive below the 50 bars mark, don't push it). If you feel ok with it (say because you are left with 40 bars at 5 meters), enjoy your time. Experience will also help you to gage mentally what you consume. It may sounds strange, but it also about knowing your body.


- Environment: currents, strong currents, darkness or even night (in case of a night dive) are element that could push your air consumption beyond normal rate. The currents will force you to additional efforts which equals consuming air; a night dive may make you anxious, with the same result, more air intake.


- Physical and mental condition: fatigue, exertion, anxiety, stress, had a bad day, hungover etc. All reasons that could lead you to consume more air than usual. Bad day? You don't feel it? Don't dive. Just a bit tired? Go for an easy dive. No need to dive a wreck 35 meters down if you feel too tired. Here again, listen to your body and adjust the dive accordinngly, factoring in your conditions to anticipate your air consumption.


Final reminder: remember to communicate with your buddy. Inform him once you reach half tank. Once your reach 50 bars, its time to ascend slowly.

Ok here I am conservative and I just follow the PADI rule. I know well that experienced folks adjust that rule to the environment. So just take it as a reference point.


Source: PADI hand signals table

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No joke, running out of air can be avoided without much efforts and can prevent serious consequences.


Dive safe!


Sincerely yours.


The Diving Bear

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