Happy New Year to freedivers everywhere! The week after Christmas is a time when most people pledge to improve themselves in an area in which they have been a tad lax. Let’s face it, most of us could shine a bit more in some way, right? It seems many resolutions involve living healthier. This so easily applies to freedivers and spearfishers, who, as a general rule, purposefully seek a healthier lifestyle and many work to incorporate solid safety techniques in their dive practices. However, when freedive safety is not employed, the results can be devastating.
I’ve been considering the number of divers we’ve lost this past year, including the most recent one that crossed my desk – a Hawaiian paramedic only 26 years old who tragically died this past week in a freedive accident. While these reflections are troubling I also know there are solutions to this problem which are not difficult to implement and can protect divers.
I’m proposing that freedivers and spearfishers conduct a careful review of the ways in which they can dive safer in the coming year. An honest appraisal of dive practices and a few tweaks in areas where you know you’ve been slacking could save your life or that of your partner. You’re worth it, your buddy is worth it, and your families are worth it. It’s an easy resolution for 2016!
Freedive Safety Review
- Dive with an evenly matched partner or conform to the level of the least capable diver.
- Weight yourself correctly by being positively buoyant at the surface after a full exhalation.
- Do not hyperventilate to excess.
- Dive one up/one down, maintaining constant visual supervision of the diver.
- Maintain close, direct supervision of a freediver for no less than 30 seconds after they surface, even if they have given the okay signal.
- When conditions allow, each diver should have a dive flag; if a boat is involved a dive flag should be conspicuously displayed.
- Make your minimum surface interval twice the duration of your dive time.
- Do not take every dive to its limit; maintain a reserve.
- Review, practice, and discuss how to recognize and handle blackouts and near blackouts.
- Take a freedive course.
- Consider purchasing and wearing the FRV from Oceaniccs.
I have more than a few freediving/spearfishing friends, including every member of my immediate family. I nearly lost my two oldest sons in a freedive accident and I regularly remind them to keep their safety skills sharp. It’s your best shot at living a long, happy, healthy life and passing on the love of freediving to your kids and grandkids. Here’s to you sticking to your New Year’s Resolution!
Live to Dive Another Day!