2020 by far have been a very challenging year. We not only have to deal with pandemic crisis but recession too. Global lockdown and traveling ban were imposed during the first two quarter of the year before restrictions were slowly eased. As someone who is passionate about travel and extreme sport, living in confinement is not an easy thing. I thought I’d go insane from having to stay home for such a long period of time, and so when restrictions were eased, I quickly made plans to do things that I’ve always wanted to do, eg: diving.
I’ve always been passionate about diving, but September 2020 is somewhat jinxed and bears some bad news to us all Malaysian divers. Within the span of just one month, the Malaysian divers community is shaken by the news of 3 diving accidents that causes death. One is an Open Water Diver in Tioman Island, while another two are an Open Water student and an instructor in two different cases in Redang Island.
As a consequence to the news, plenty of naysayers are trying to discourage me from further pursuing my passion and education in diving, but I’d like to reiterate that diving is relatively a safe recreational sport and most accidents are usually caused by health issues and accidents are sometimes caused by neglects.
Scuba diving is enjoyed by thousands of people around the globe and it is considered a low-risk activity in comparison to many other outdoor and sports activities.
Let me share with you, especially non-divers on how it’s like before Open Water certification students/ divers are allowed to dive in the open water, so that you can have an insight on what it’s really like before we divers are allowed to dive;
First, there would be briefings on what you can expect from the upcoming dives.
Divers will be informed on dive plans, dive sites, max depth, maximum bottom time, weather conditions and standard procedures should any unexpected issues arises.
Certified divers who haven’t dive for quite some will be required to do some dive check/or a refresh dive, to ensure that they still remembers their diving skills. During the briefing, divers will also revise their hand signals so that miscommunications does not happen when they are underwater.
Then there will be the equipment set up and check, where everything will be inspected properly to ensure every single diving gears are in good conditions. This is to prevent accident from equipment malfunction and failure.
And then there’s also equipment fitting session if divers are using rental equipments instead of their own equipment. Proper weighting to enable divers smooth decent is made as well during this session.
Diving is not a solo sport. So nobody dives solo unless they are a certified Solo Diver. Yes, you need a special license for that. In each dives, all divers who don’t already have a personal dive buddy will be assigned a dive buddy that you will dive with throughout the entire dives. If it’s a course there will also be accompanying Dive Master(s)/ instructor’s assistant(s) who will assist the instructor throughout the entire course to ensure the safety of the students. If it’s a fundives, there will also be guide(s) who will guide divers throughout their dives. No one is unaccompanied throughout the entire dive.
Buddy check; we divers always will look after our buddies and do safety checks on each other’s equipment prior diving and ensure we understand each other’s hand signals.
Now, only when everything is double checked, divers will be allowed to dive. And even then, nobody is allowed to dive beyond the plan and the depth that they are certified for. Everyone are also reminded to be extra careful and alert while diving.
Of course, like any other activities in the natural environment, there are inherent risks in scuba diving that cannot be fully eliminated. However, with proper training and when following strict diving practices, the likelihood of a fatal accident is low, and diving is still a relatively safe sport to participate in.