As an instructor, I have heard this statement way too many times. Whether I am at a party, in line at the supermarket or in the shop, people are quick to tell me that they have tried scuba diving with a family member or a friend that is certified. They tell me how they “only” went to 20 feet so there was NO way they could get hurt! Little did they know that they were at greatest risk in that first 33 feet down. They did not know that the ambient pressure is twice as great in the first 33 feet as it is at sea level. What does this mean? It takes TWICE as much air to fill your lungs in that 33 feet as it does at sea level, and if they hold their breath and surface within that 33 feet, they run the risk of an over expansion injury. You run the risk of an over expansion injury holding your breath and surfacing from only FOUR feet!
Compare your lungs to a balloon. If you take a balloon down and fill it to capacity with air, tie it off and let it surface, what will happen? It will take twice the volume of air to fill it that it would at the surface in and as it rises and the pressure decreases, the air will expand (the volume will double) and the balloon can burst. Now imagine that that balloon is your lungs. Not a pretty picture.
As an instructor, I have seen people slurp in salt water at the surface and have a near drowning experience. People are in the water with all of this equipment and try to get back in thru the surf zone and get tumbled. With gear on it is hard to stand up and again, near drownings! I have seen divers that are experienced come up, take the regulator out of their mouth and slurp in salt water due to wind chop…again, near drowning! Now imagine that you do NOT have training and try to come in thru the surf zone and get tumbled. You could drown.
Scuba diving is a very safe sport. With proper training and by following the rules of scuba diving you substantially reduce the risk of injury. It would be no different than driving a car. If you are taught defensive driving and the rules of the road and you practice these rules of the road, you reduce the risk of injury. But…if you jump in a car without any training, take off and drive on surface streets (yea, that’s ok because you are only driving 35 mph) and are only going to drive 20 miles, what do you think can happen? Also, if you take off and drive at 100 mph on the freeway, weave in & out of traffic, you increase the odds of having an accident and causing injury to yourself or others!
We offer scuba training for a very reasonable price. We will train you to develop the skills necessary for safe diving practices to reduce the risk of injury. We will explain the rules of diving and what can happen if you do not follow these rules, and how to have a safe and enjoyable time in the water. Please, PLEASE do not fall into the assumption that if you do not go deep and you stay within 20 feet or so that you are safe without any training! Don’t take your loved ones into the water without their getting the proper training. What most people do not realize is that if they take a friend in the water, and they are not insured & certified instructors, and the friend gets hurt that they can be sued! There is also the possibility that they can be held criminally responsible if a major accident/injury or a death occurred. Do not leave yourself open to a law suit. Insist that they go to a qualified instructor and get the proper training.
These are the opinions of the author and I welcome any and all comments. Until next time, Dive Safe!