Safety blog

  • April 02, 2018 7:01 PM | Tom Stenger

         As we prepare for our busy local and overseas dive season, it is always a good ideal to refresh our basic dive skills. The basic skill you learned in your Open Water Class are important every time you dive, even if you don't have to use them. 

         I can't tell you how many times my mask has flooded or my tank came loose as I bankrolled off of a friend's boat. Although considered a unusual issue, it was easily handles with little issue because of the confidence I had in my basic skills.

         So what should I focus on and how can I practice. When ever I get new gear or items back from service, I love to jump into my community pool and test it out. I also use this time to practice some basic skills like mask flooding , regulator recovery, and locating my alternate air source. 

         What if you don't have a pool? Well, next time you are on a club dive at the end of the dive practice your skills. Just remember to brief your dive buddy first, so they know.

    Here are some tips to start the season: 

    1. Do you ABC’s

    Take your time to go through your kit, and make sure all is in order, and that you’re being extra thorough in assembling the elements.

    Haste makes waste. So take your time.

    2. Practice your basic water skills

    Go through the basic dive skills.

    Do a hover (if you struggle, start with the fin pivot), remove and replace regulator, remove and replace mask.

    If you’re really ambitious, you can also remove and replace BCD and weight belt at the surface.

    And if your buoyancy is top notch, take it up a level and try inverted hovers, trim, etc.

    If you have the opportunity, also practice a few water entry strategies, such as giant stride.

    2. Practice your basic water skills

    Go through the basic dive skills.

    Do a hover (if you struggle, start with the fin pivot), remove and replace regulator, remove and replace mask.

    If you’re really ambitious, you can also remove and replace BCD and weight belt at the surface.

    And if your buoyancy is top notch, take it up a level and try inverted hovers, trim, etc.

    If you have the opportunity, also practice a few water entry strategies, such as giant stride.


    3. Practice emergency skills

    Next, move to the more advanced skills, and consider repeating these from time to time, in-season.

    These include deploying an SMB, out-of-air scenario, and re-surfacing of an unconscious or injured diver.

    If you dive with doubles, also practice your basic shut-down drills.

    4. Work your communication skills

    Agree with your buddy that at some point during the dive, you both need to communicate something on the dive, preferably rather complex, to the other. Make it scenario based, and make sure you have a sign to communicate that this is in fact just a scenario.

    Bring two writing slates or wetnote books. You or your buddy then communicates a message to the other, who then writes down what he or she believes is communicated. Then you switch. Afterwards, you've compare notes and see how efficiently you've communicated the messages.

    3. Practice emergency skills

    Next, move to the more advanced skills, and consider repeating these from time to time, in-season.

    These include deploying an SMB, out-of-air scenario, and re-surfacing of an unconscious or injured diver.

    If you dive with doubles, also practice your basic shut-down drills.

    4. Work your communication skills

    Agree with your buddy that at some point during the dive, you both need to communicate something on the dive, preferably rather complex, to the other. Make it scenario based, and make sure you have a sign to communicate that this is in fact just a scenario.

    Bring two writing slates or wetnote books. You or your buddy then communicates a message to the other, who then writes down what he or she believes is communicated. Then you switch. Afterwards, you've compare notes and see how efficiently you've communicated the messages.

    Enjoy, 

    Tom

    3. Practice emergency skills

    Next, move to the more advanced skills, and consider repeating these from time to time, in-season.

    These include deploying an SMB, out-of-air scenario, and re-surfacing of an unconscious or injured diver.

    If you dive with doubles, also practice your basic shut-down drills.

    4. Work your communication skills

    Agree with your buddy that at some point during the dive, you both need to communicate something on the dive, preferably rather complex, to the other. Make it scenario based, and make sure you have a sign to communicate that this is in fact just a scenario.

    Bring two writing slates or wetnote books. You or your buddy then communicates a message to the other, who then writes down what he or she believes is communicated. Then you switch. Afterwards, you've compare notes and see how efficiently you've communicated the messages.

    2. Practice your basic water skills

    Go through the basic dive skills.

    Do a hover (if you struggle, start with the fin pivot), remove and replace regulator, remove and replace mask.

    If you’re really ambitious, you can also remove and replace BCD and weight belt at the surface.

    And if your buoyancy is top notch, take it up a level and try inverted hovers, trim, etc.

    If you have the opportunity, also practice a few water entry strategies, such as giant stride.

    1. Do you ABC’s

    Take your time to go through your kit, and make sure all is in order, and that you’re being extra thorough in assembling the elements.

    Haste makes waste. So take your time.

    1. Do you ABC’s

    Take your time to go through your kit, and make sure all is in order, and that you’re being extra thorough in assembling the elements.

    Haste makes waste. So take your time.

    Scuba skills include kit checks<img class="size-full wp-image-7249" src="//images.divein.com/img/scuba-skills-train-pool.jpg" alt="Scuba skills include kit checks" width="800" height="533" />

    A diver taking time going through her kit - Credit: PhotoSky 4t com

    2. Practice your basic water skills

    Go through the basic dive skills.

    Do a hover (if you struggle, start with the fin pivot), remove and replace regulator, remove and replace mask.

    If you’re really ambitious, you can also remove and replace BCD and weight belt at the surface.

    And if your buoyancy is top notch, take it up a level and try inverted hovers, trim, etc.

    If you have the opportunity, also practice a few water entry strategies, such as giant stride.

    Buoyancy scuba skills practice<img class="wp-image-7252 size-full" src="//images.divein.com/img/scuba-skills-pool-buoyancy.jpg" alt="Buoyancy scuba skills practice" width="800" height="531" />

    A scuba diver practicing buoyancy in a pool - Credit: Royster

    3. Practice emergency skills

    Next, move to the more advanced skills, and consider repeating these from time to time, in-season.

    These include deploying an SMB, out-of-air scenario, and re-surfacing of an unconscious or injured diver.

    If you dive with doubles, also practice your basic shut-down drills.

    4. Work your communication skills

    Agree with your buddy that at some point during the dive, you both need to communicate something on the dive, preferably rather complex, to the other. Make it scenario based, and make sure you have a sign to communicate that this is in fact just a scenario.

    Bring two writing slates or wetnote books. You or your buddy then communicates a message to the other, who then writes down what he or she believes is communicated. Then you switch. Afterwards, you've compare notes and see how efficiently you've communicated the messages.

    Scuba skills underwater communication <img class="size-full wp-image-7256" src="//images.divein.com/img/scuba-skills-underwater-com.jpg" alt="Scuba skills underwater communication " width="680" height="510" />

    Underwater communication using a slate - Credit: Globalreset

    All of these skills are of course necessary for all scuba divers.. So a beginning of season run-through is valuable, and elements of it should be repeated during the season, preferably on easy dives at well-known sites.

  • March 05, 2018 6:34 PM | Tom Stenger

         One of the most important piece of Safety Gear we can have is one we often don't even know how important it is to use.

         Surface Marker Buoys (SMB's) are an important piece of safety gear to have on every dive. All scuba agencies now require it to be carried in classes and many dive boats require it as well.

         But how much do you know about it and how much consideration did you put into buying yours? Surface Marker Buoys have been around for many decades and have been a part of every Technical Divers tool box. But, it's more then one other piece of gear to carry.

         Although one never hopes to lose the person carrying the flag, in reality sometimes it happens. As you learned in your Open Water Class, the rule is to search for one minute and then surface. But, what if the line snaps on the flag and it continues to drift away with the charter boat following it?

         This is where a SMB can be helpful to make you visible. Divers in the water are hard to see by boats. Since only your head is visible and waves can obscure visibility, a SMB can give you some height over the water.

         When picking a SMB to carry you need to consider the brighter the better and size does sometimes matter. In rough seas or bright days, a dive flag can be hard to see and can be lost in the waves. 

    Image result for dive flag in water

    But deploying a SMB to supplement the flag on the surface now creates a bigger object to see and you can wave it. 

    An SMB signal is handier than a DSMB

    Several divers deploying a few SMB's make a bigger target. How easy do you think it would be to see these several divers with their deployed SMB's? 

    Image result for dive smb

         In ending, SMB's can be used to make a dive boat captains job that much easier in rough seas and can be valuable when you lose the flag or the person holding it. I prefer a bright yellow because it sticks out but red and even pink are pretty bright too. I also prefer one that can be filled manually or by inserting a regulator to fill. This SMB can be inflated solidly and can be raised over the head without going limp. But like all other dive gear you need to look at the cost you are willing to pay, how you will attach it to keep it out of the way, and how big you are willing to carry.

    Safe Diving

    Thomas Stenger 

  • February 04, 2018 2:07 PM | Tom Stenger

    Hello Everyone,

    I have had a few people ask me about putting on a CPR/ First Aid class for the club. As you may know I am a current Dive Instructor as well as CPR/ First Aid Trainer.

    I wanted to get a feel for who may be interested. It was suggested that this could be done as a social event and that would be a great ideal.

    I could either host it at a site down on Ft Lauderdale Beach for a minimal cost (paid to the building) at the USCG Auxiliary building followed by dinner down there on Ft Lauderdale Beach. It can also be hosted by a club member, if someone would like to host it at their home (my condo is too small)?  Keep in mind that if we have a big turnout space may be tight. I teach at the USCG Auxiliary site and it can easily hold 50 people.

    Although this would be a full certification class, you will not be issued a card. If you would like a card their is a fees, I have to pay to the certifying agency and if you would like to pay that I will issue you the card. The card is not necessary, but many need it to meet certain work requirements (IE: OSHA Standards, Daycare Workers, Boat Captains, Active Divemasters, ETC. )

    The class would take about 4-5 hours (depending on how everyone is getting it) and would be scheduled on a Sun late Morning till the afternoon.

    This is a great skill to have for your everyday life. If you are interested please email me and let me know it you want the card as well.

    Thomas Stenger
    safety@usadiveclub.org

  • January 28, 2018 8:26 PM | Tom Stenger

         Diving in South Florida can be a year around sport. But water temps in January can get down to the low 70"s and in hind sight from say the waters off New Jersey that pretty warm. One still gets cold and this can lead to issues while diving. 

         So how do you maximize diving while keeping yourself comfortable? Having the right thermal protection for the dive environment is a big factor. Water draws heat away from the body 20 times faster then in air. Having the right wetsuit and it fitting right will make a big difference. Most people think that Florida is a year around 3mm suit state, but most experts will tell you that a 3mm wetsuit is only good to a low of 73 deg F. But if your doing multiple dives and the air temperature is cool, you body is working to stay warm in the water and out.

         For those who dive a lot and may have less natural thermal insulation, a 5 mm may be the new standard suit for you cooler water diving. this will keep you comfortable down to the mid 60's.

         How about hoods and gloves? Hoods help prevent heat loss from your head that is estimated to be 20 to 40 percent of the bodies heat loss. Gloves also help protect your fingers and reduces your loss of dexterity. 

         One must remember that the bodies main goal is to keep your core warm, so as the core gets cold it regulates blood flow to your outer extremities. So it is important to help the body out and protect those areas as well. 

         In between dives you need to rewarm the body to prepare it for the next dive. This may include peeling off the wetsuit, drying off and putting on a sweater. This will quickly allow your core to reheat.

         Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Even in the cold, you body dehydrates and this causes your body to do more work with less resources.

          For those wanting gadgets, technology is coming to help in the form of Thermal Garments. Many companies are now offering Thermal heated undergarments that work underwater, but they are still pricy. Check out www.heatedwetsuits.com for some examples.

         If that's not in you budget, perhaps placing a heat pack against you chest near your core, can give the body that slight heat edge. Check out www.reusableheat.com for hot packs that are safe to dive with. Placing one in your suit for a dive may help you feel more comfortable thru the dive.

         I guess when all else fails just wait till summer to dive. On the other hand that just take the fun out of being an avid diver. Maybe a semi-dry or drysuit is a must. But I'll let you make that call. 

    Thomas Stenger 

    Safety Coordinator

    1/28/18

     

     


       

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