Have you ever heard of an athlete, an artist or a professional of some sort having a routine that they do before they perform whatever they’re good at? It’s quite a common occurrence, and sometimes it is so important to the person that their performance would be drastically hindered if they don’t do that routine beforehand. Diving can be thought of similarly, so if you’re looking for a ritual to perform before each dive, we think that the following should be on your list:
Use the toilet
If you’ve ever swam in a pool, you’re probably familiar with that strong urge to pee that happens after we’ve been swimming for a few minutes. Scientifically speaking, this need to pee is completely natural and nothing to worry about, it’s just your body’s way of adapting to the change in temperature caused by being in the water. However, it can be quite uncomfortable when it occurs halfway through a dive, leaving you with two bad options: either hold it in until you get back to land, or pee in your wetsuit. A quick visit to the toilet before your dive will help you avoid this situation altogether!
Open your tank valve
It goes without saying that your tank valve should be open before you get in the water so that you can consume the precious air inside of it, otherwise it’s just dead weight. To open your valve, you would need to turn the knob left, or counterclockwise. It’s easy to check whether you’ve correctly opened your valve if you haven’t attached your regulator’s first stage to it yet because you’ll hear an unmistakable loud noise as the pressurised air is being released from the tank. However, if you’ve already attached your regulator then you should…
Check your air gauge
Regularly checking your air gauge is one of the important steps for safe scuba diving, but that doesn’t mean you should only do it when you’re in the water. Checking the gauge immediately after attaching the first stage regulator to the tank is a good way to ensure they both are functioning properly, and that the tank has an adequate amount of air. A gauge attached to a fresh tank should show about 200 bar. If yours shows significantly less than 200, let your diving instructor know, so that they can either give you a different tank or end the dive earlier to account for your lack of air.
Test your regulator
The air in your tank is only as good as your ability to use it. Test your second stage regulator by putting it in your mouth and taking a few breaths just like you would underwater, and then do the same with your spare (usually yellow) regulator, also known as the “octopus”. This is to ensure you’ll be able to breathe underwater. Afterward, press your BCD’s inflator button, followed by the deflator button. Your BCD should inflate and deflate accordingly. This is a very important step that ensures you won’t have any bad surprises underwater!
Check your tank straps
At the back of your BCD, there will be one or more straps designed to keep the tank firmly positioned there. Position your tank such that the space between the top of the tank (the knob/valve) and the first strap is about the size of one of your palms, and then tighten the strap as hard as you can. Afterward, lift the BCD with the tank attached to it and give it a few good shakes. If your tank doesn’t move at all, you’re good to go!
Defog your mask
Having a foggy mask during a dive is one surefire way to ruin it because it’s no fun to dive when you can’t see what’s in front of you. Luckily, it’s easy to defog a mask. You simply need to spit in it, then use your fingers to rub it around and then rinse it with water. If you’d prefer not to use spit, you can also soap or shampoo in the same manner. There are also special “anti-fogging liquids” you can buy if you’re feeling fancy however, in our experience, using spit works just fine. No matter which solution you choose, you’re sure to enjoy your dive that much more with a clear mask!
And there it is! We believe that performing these steps before each dive will ensure that you have a good time and not have to handle any unwanted surprises. Can you think of anything else that should be on this list? Do you have your own very specific ritual perhaps? We would love to hear all about it. Leave us a comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!