Dive Safety: The Importance of Physical Health, Experience and Certification Level
Diving experiences in the Florida Keys are available for people of nearly all ages and all certification levels. The goal among dive professionals is for you to have an enjoyable, safe dive vacation.
Dive operators in the Keys are focused on maintaining the highest level of safety standards for their crews, boats and dive gear. Among the crucial safety factors for successful and enjoyable diving, however, is your own physical health.
Before You Dive
One of the most significant things a person can do to enhance his or her dive safety, before submerging, is to be physically fit. This doesn’t mean you should run three miles two weeks before going on a dive vacation. Instead, divers of any age should embrace a fitness lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Aerobic exercise — walking, running, using a treadmill — is important to get your heart beating. Swimming in a pool, outdoor or indoor, can also be a year-round activity to maintain physical strength and endurance.
From a physical standpoint, what is required of a diver? Most fundamentally, to get back to the boat at the end of the dive.
You may be forced to go beyond your normal personal limits during a dive if the waves kick up, there’s current, or you end up tired and too far from the boat when you surface. Divers must be prepared to operate at a certain level of safety and efficiency.
The condition of your dive equipment is equally critical. Have it inspected and professionally serviced to ensure that it’s operating correctly — especially if it has been at least a year since your last dive.
Are you current with your certification level? Enroll in a refresher course in a pool, lake or quarry at home if you haven’t been diving in a year or more. Dust off the cobwebs and get comfortable again with your gear. It’s a modest investment of time and money to improve upon underwater skills and, more importantly, boost your diving confidence.
When You Dive
Now that you’ve booked a Florida Keys dive vacation, how can you be a better, safer diver once you get on the boat? Keys dive charter operators offer some important tips.
Dive within your certification level. If you’re an open-water diver, you’ll want to enjoy one of the Keys’ wonderful shallow reefs. If you’re an advanced open-water diver or higher, the Keys have deeper shipwrecks to explore as well.
Listen closely to the dive boat crew’s safety briefing. Not all Keys dive operators provide a dive guide. It’s important to understand the crew’s thorough review of how best to get off and on the boat as well as navigating the dive site, potential currents, hand signals and monitoring not just your air supply but also your dive buddy’s.
In the event a dive accident occurs, the Florida Keys are equipped with emergency medical services including a hyperbaric chamber. Any advanced medical treatments needed are readily accessible on mainland Florida, with an air ambulance available for emergency transport if required.
For more information about dive opportunities and sites in the Florida Keys’ five districts, as well as environmental protection tips for divers, visit fla-keys.com/diving/.