Ask DAN: What Should I Know About Etiquette Among Scuba Divers?

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I learned how to dive in one of the quarries in my home state but have made the leap to plan my first open-ocean dives. I’m nervous about diving with people I’ve never met before in a new environment, and don’t want to look like a rookie. Is there anything I should know about common scuba diving etiquette?

Diving etiquette is hard to pick up through an open-water course — it takes time and firsthand experience to learn. Buoyancy skills, situational awareness and environmentally friendly dive plans and practices are the hallmarks of safe and experienced divers, and it can take years to develop these traits.Dive like a pro and keep yourself safe in the water by working on your diving etiquette this season with these simple best practices.

Keep Your Equipment Together

Bench space on a charter is valuable and often limited, and gear blocking walk- ways and doors on a rocking boat can be a serious safety hazard. Keep your equipment confined and organized at all times. You’ll be less likely to lose gear or grab someone else’s accidentally, and the crew and other divers will be able to move freely and deal with emergencies more effectively should they arise. The same applies to shore dives — diving from an empty beach doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to spread your gear from the park- ing lot to the water. Keep your equipment together and on top of a tarp or towel to keep it out of the sand and leave room for other beachgoers or divers. If you know space will be limited on a charter or at a dive site, leave the extra toys at home and enjoy the dive with just the basics.

Pay Attention to the Dive Briefing

Regardless of whether you are a new diver or an experienced instructor, you need to listen to the dive briefing on a charter or a guided shore dive. The briefing includes valuable information about the location of emergency sup- plies that are critical to your emergency action plans. Even if you are confident in your skills and know the dive site like your own backyard, keep quiet and let the instructor or dive leader brief the rest of your group — distracting your buddies from listening to the briefing can put everyone in danger.

Coordinate Your Communication

Not all divers are trained by the same agency, and not all agencies have the same hand signals. Underwater signals can vary even within the same training agency in different locations. During the briefing, coordinate hand signals with your buddy and review the basic signals you’re likely to use. Rehearsing emergency signals and procedures before a dive is part of good dive planning, and makes you and your buddy a more effective team. Specify your level of comfort in the water, your goals for the dive and what side of your buddy you would like to dive on while practicing hand signals.

Let Anyone Cancel a Dive

Whether it’s weeks ahead of time, just before entering the water or near the end of the dive, remember that any diver can call a dive at any time, and they need to be supported when doing so. Any diver should feel comfortable calling a dive for any reason. Recognizing when it is time to stop or cancel a dive is an integral part of taking responsibility for your own dive safety. Failure to call a dive when appropriate puts a diver at significant risk, and incident analysis has shown that one of the leading causes of dive injuries is failure to stop a dive before exceeding one’s limitations. For more information on safe diving practices or etiquette, visit dan.org.

Source: Sport Diver

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