Standard Safe Diving Practices for both Scuba Divers and Freedivers

If asked, would you know what the 10 points are on the Standard Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding form?

If we asked a newly certified PADI Open Water Diver or a PADI Freediver what they were, do you think they could answer?

Diving with a buddy is one the golden rules in both Scuba & Freediving which should NEVER be broken!
Diving with a buddy is one of the golden rules in both Scuba & Freediving which should NEVER be broken!

We are lucky to have access to these great forms however I strongly believe they could be better utilized.

We ask all training course students to sign the form at the beginning of each course which is great but are we also emphasizing these practices at the end of their training (prior to certification) to ensure they now fully understand those recommendations and head off planning to follow them?

Direct your students using the training logbook to the section at the end of the training area where the below form is included or when sending your newly certified students a congratulatory email thanking them for their custom or encouraging enrollment on the next PADI course add the form as an attachment with a reminder to ensure they familiarize themselves to the points and adhere to them.

Let’s have a look at what our students and professional PADI divers are agreeing to:

Standard Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding

1. Maintain good mental and physical fitness for diving. Avoid being under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs when diving. Keep proficient in diving skills, striving to increase them through continuing education and reviewing them in controlled conditions after a period of diving inactivity, and refer to my course materials to stay current and refresh myself on important information.

2. Be familiar with my dive sites. If not, obtain a formal diving orientation from a knowledgeable, local source. If diving conditions are worse than those in which I am experienced, postpone diving or select an alternate site with better conditions. Engage only in diving activities consistent with my training and experience. Do not engage in cave or technical diving unless specifically trained to do so.

3. Use complete, well-maintained, reliable equipment with which I am familiar; and inspect it for correct fit and function prior to each dive. Have a buoyancy control device, low-pressure buoyancy control inflation system, submersible pressure gauge and alternate air source and dive planning/monitoring device (dive computer, RDP/dive tables—whichever you are trained to use) when scuba diving. Deny use of my equipment to uncertified divers.

4. Listen carefully to dive briefings and directions and respect the advice of those supervising my diving activities. Recognize that additional training is recommended for participation in specialty diving activities, in other geographic areas and after periods of inactivity that exceed six months.

5. Adhere to the buddy system throughout every dive. Plan dives – including communications, procedures for reuniting in case of separation and emergency procedures – with my buddy.

6. Be proficient in dive planning (dive computer or dive table use). Make all dives no decompression dives and allow a margin of safety. Have a means to monitor depth and time underwater. Limit maximum depth to my level of training and experience. Ascend at a rate of not more than 18 metres/60 feet per minute. Be a SAFE diver – Slowly Ascend From Every dive. Make a safety stop as an added precaution, usually at 5 metres/15 feet for three minutes or longer.

7. Maintain proper buoyancy. Adjust weighting at the surface for neutral buoyancy with no air in my buoyancy control device. Maintain neutral buoyancy while underwater. Be buoyant for surface swimming and resting. Have weights clear for easy removal, and establish buoyancy when in distress while diving. Carry at least one surface signaling device (such as signal tube, whistle, mirror).

8. Breathe properly for diving. Never breath-hold or skip-breathe when breathing compressed air, and avoid excessive hyperventilation when breath-hold diving. Avoid overexertion while in and underwater and dive within my limitations.

9. Use a boat, float or other surface support station, whenever feasible.

10. Know and obey local dive laws and regulations, including fish and game and dive flag laws.




PADI Freediver Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding

1. Always freedive with a trained buddy and follow established freediving buddy practices. 14. Remove the snorkel from my mouth when I descend on a freedive.
2. Not participate in open water freediving after scuba diving on the same day. 15. Not exhale during the dive, except immediately before breaking the surface upon ascent so I can inhale sooner.
3. Equalize my ears and mask immediately as I descend, frequently and gently, before I feel discomfort. 16. Upon returning to the surface, exhale passively and gently. Inhale actively and more quickly. Do this at least three times.
4. Never continue descending without equalizing. If I can’t equalize, return to the surface. 17. Recover for at least three times the duration of my breathhold before starting another dive.
5. Never attempt a forceful and/or extended equalization. A forceful, extended equalization can cause serious, permanent injuries to ears and hearing. 18. When ascending from a dive to depth, have my buddy escort me for the final part of my ascent.
6. Descend with my lungs full. 19. Not start a descent until my buddy has completed recovery from a previous dive.
7. Freedive in good health. Never freedive with a cold or congestion. 20. Follow the one-up, one-down buddy system.
8. Even if I’m a scuba diver, not take a breath from scuba at depth while freediving. An exception may be an emergency, in which case the scuba diver should share air with me as we both make a scuba ascent. 21. Assess conditions before a freediving session and plan my session. It is ultimately me who decides whether to go freediving. I am responsible for my own safety, so only I can make the final decision to dive.
9. Use relaxation to extend breathhold time. Not use hyperventilation. 22. Avoid freediving in large and rough surf.
10. Increase breathhold durations gradually. Gain experience slowly. 23. Avoid contact with all organisms, but especially unfamiliar ones. Know the potentially hazardous ones for the area where I’m freediving.
11. After descending to depth, head up well within my limits. The deeper the dive, the sooner I should head up. 24. Get a local orientation to a new freediving location and/or join a group to help learn about conditions, organisms, hazards and local procedures.
12. Send a diver who blacked out underwater or who may have inhaled water at the surface to the hospital, even if apparently fully recovered. 25. Protect myself from the sun and stay hydrated.
13. For open water freediving, weight myself so that I float comfortably at the surface after exhaling.

Ensuring all divers understand the importance of these safe diving practices could well reduce the number of diving incidents which should result in more divers entering this fantastic sport. Apart from the safety aspect its always more fun to dive with a buddy. Encourage your divers to be the best buddy they can be by agreeing to never break the safety rules as they head off to independently dive.

For further information on risk management check out the PADI Pro site’s webinars or speak to your Regional Manager.

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