Open water courses are great for learning many foundational skills, but it is just the beginning of a long road when it comes to gathering diving knowledge, experience and expertise. So it’s no surprise that new divers tend to make some common mistakes. Some may just be simply embarrassing, well others can actually compromise your safety. What are the top mistakes new divers make? And how do you avoid them? Read on to find out!
1. Not preparing your mask
Experiences divers get into a routine of preparing their mask before every dive. Preparing your mask properly before each dive will prevent it from fogging up during your dive. This is a common mistake that new divers make, and will leave them with a foggy mask a few seconds after jumping into the water. With a quick wash with some defogging solution and rinsing with water before each dive can help prevent this from happening.
Being nervous before you dive for the first time is completely normal. But after diving a few times, you may lose that caution you had in the beginning. While it is great to be confident in your abilities, it is also super important to know your limits. This is known as the “Dunning-Kruger” effect In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. So even though you may feel like you have everything under control, always listen to your instructors.
3. Not checking your gauges enough
In the beginning, you may only check your gauges when your instructor asks you to. However it is important to be checking them frequently so you can monitor any changes and know how quickly you are using your air supply. It is recommended to check your gauges every 5-7 minutes, so you always know where your levels are.
4. Diving when you feel sick
If you aren’t feeling well, or just don’t feel ready for a dive, then just say so. It is never a good idea to dive when you are sick. Other than being an unpleasant experience, it can actually be unsafe. “A cold causes congestion of upper respiratory pathways, which may block Eustachian tubes and sinus openings,” says Dr. Petar Denoble, of Divers Alert Network. “This prevents the equalization of pressure in the middle ears and sinuses.” So if you are feeling sick, it may be better to sit that one out!
5. Walking around in fins
While this one may not pose too many safety hazards, it can be embarrassing! Walking around in scuba gear can be hard enough, especially if you decide to walk with your fins on. Most fins are not designed to be walked around in and can be very uncomfortable. We recommend only putting on your fins at the edge of the boat just before you dive in the water.
6. Forgetting to Relax
Scuba diving should not be a strenuous sport, and the more relaxed you are, the better. Remember: the slower you breathe, the longer you dive. So there is no need to rush around, or try to make your dive as quick as possible. New divers can get over excited, and may be swimming and breathing too quickly. This is not only bad for your oxygen supply, but will leave you exhausted by the end of your dive. So take a deep breath, relax, and take it all in.
7. Using a camera
Many instructors will have a strict “no camera” policy. This is not because they don’t want you taking some epic pictures, but it can actually be a safety hazard if you are inexperienced. If you haven’t perfected your buoyancy yet, then you shouldn’t be using a camera while diving. New divers who get distracted with their cameras can float off to the surface without realizing.
8. Swimming against a current
Currents are very difficult to swim against, even for experienced divers. If you find yourself getting caught in a current, just go with the flow. It is never a good idea to try and swim against the current if you are inexperienced, as you may end up going backwards. Swimming against a current is also exhausting, and will use up your oxygen supply. Your boat will be able to handle the current better than you can, so just surface, and signal for the boat to help you.
9. Touching marine life
This goes for new divers, as well as snorkelers, and any underwater adventurer. If you see something amazing, and want to get a closer look, you need to be careful. Not every animal in the ocean is friendly, and you should ever touch or disturb marine life. How would you like it if someone came into your home and started taking things? Ask your instructor to take a picture for you, so you can always remember that incredible thing you saw underwater.
10. Knowing your hand signals
Hand signals can be a little confusing in the beginning, and you may not remember everything at the start. Your instructors will use these hand signals to communicate with you, so it’s important to pay attention and learn the correct way to use them. Flashing the “ok” signal is only appropriate if you actually understood what your instructor said, and is not meant as a general answer. If you are confused about something, just ask your instructor before getting in the water, so there is no confusion once you are in.
Everyone starts off as a beginner, and we all make mistakes when it comes to diving for the first time. The trick is to not get discouraged when you make mistakes, and learn from them instead. That way, you can help other new divers when they need it! And remember, your instructors and fellow divers are there to help you, so do not hesitate to ask questions. What are some mistakes that you made as a newbie diver? Are there any that we missed? Leave a comment below and let us know!
About the Author
I’m Harmony Rose, a California native passionate about exploring the world and sharing the craziness along the way. I’ve traveled across ten countries so far, and do not plan on stopping any time soon. This blog is a way for me to use my passion for writing and photography as a way to share my adventures!
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