Scuba Diving Safety Practices

  • Safety Tips for Scuba Diving

  • Diving is a safe sport as long as divers practice scuba diving safety and learn how to anticipate and solve problems. This is all part of becoming an accomplished and safe diver.

    Scuba diving is an unpredictable and inherently risky sport. Divers need a positive attitude, a good level of physical fitness and avoid taking unnecessary risks. These items are essential to lessen the chance of having a diving accident.

    Though diving accidents are rare, they do happen and sometimes for no apparent reason. They are often caused by unsafe behavior and conditions.

    Safe Diving Practices

To reduce the likelihood of problems occurring divers should never dive without proper preparation. Part of this preparation is to understand safe diving practices.

  1. Maintain good mental and physical health for diving.
  2. Be familiar with dive sites or dive with a dive guide.
  3. Use complete, well maintained, reliable equipment that is familiar.
  4. Listen carefully to dive briefings and directions by the dive staff.
  5. Always follow the buddy system. Plan dives and dive with a buddy.
  6. Know how to use dive table, Dive Computers. Make all dives no-decompression dives. Be a safe diver. Slowly Ascend From Every Dive.
  7. Maintain proper buoyancy. Neutral buoyancy underwater, positive buoyancy at the surface.
  8. Never breath-hold or skip-breath while breathing compressed air.
  9. Use a boat, float or other surface support device whenever possible.
  10. Know and obey local dive laws and regulations.

  • In addition to these ten points of diving safety there is one more that is stressed in basic open water classes. New divers learn the importance of knowing their personal diving limits. They dive in conditions they have been trained for and are comfortable with. Divers can expand their limitations by taking advanced or specialty dive courses.


  • Attitude
  • Fitness
  • Experience
  • Diving skills
  • Involvement
  • Variety
  • Equipment

          Ascent rates shall not exceed 15 meters per minute.

  • A stop at 6to9 m for three minutes is recommended on every dive.
  • Repetitive and multilevel diving should start with the deepest dive or depth first.
  • Multiple deep dives should be avoided.

Problem Solving

Though most dives go smoothly and without incident, minor problems while scuba diving sometimes occur. Skills for solving problems while diving are taught at all levels of certification. Anticipating a problem is the first step in solving it.

The best method of solving problems is to stop, think, breath and then act. When a diver learns this basic principle they can usually solve minor problems underwater without having to come to the surface or abort the dive. If they remain focused and refuse to give up, they have a chance of solving more serious problems.

Another great method of problem solving is to use the "what if" method. Divers will think of different situations like equipment failure, out of air/low on air problems or losing their dive buddy. They picture the situation in their mind and picture how they would respond. If they do this enough problem solving becomes a reaction that they do not have to think about.

Good problem solving skills will help divers keep minor problems from turning into big ones. These skills will also help divers not to panic underwater. They are able to stay calm and deal with the problem.

Safety for scuba diving is a combination of safe diving practices, good problem solving skills and common sense. These three things are necessary to minimize the chance of a problem or incident happening during a dive.

Diving Emergencies

Your safety while diving depends on the decisions you make. These decisions are based on your training level, your personal diving experience, your circumstances while diving and current safe diving practices. There is no such thing as a safe dive, only safe divers.

Be a smart diver by being a safe diver. Safe divers make scuba diving safe.

Safety At Sea

Sea Safety Guide

5 simple steps to safety at sea
Every year the voluntary crews of the RNLI respond to around 8,000 incidents and whilst only a small proportion of these involve divers (93 from the 2006 Incident Report) and the trend of RNLI involvement appears for divers to be downward we would all like to see further reductions, particularly in what might be called “near misses”.
The RNLI has developed a comprehensive ‘Sea Safety Guide’ now in the form of a booklet, complete with interactive CD-ROM, and an Interactive Website, all available free to promote safety at sea.
Part of this resource includes ‘5 Safety Tips you can count on’, which are the fundamental safety messages.  They are… 
  1. Wear a lifejacket
  2. check your engine and fuel
  3. tell others where you’re going
  4. Carry some means of calling for help
  5. Keep an eye on weather and tides
It may seem obvious, but sometimes the anticipation of a good dive makes you forget basic precautions.
Peter ChennellSafe, and happy, diving!
For more information visit
Peter Chennell
Sea Safety Manager, RNLI



Whilst the Annual Diving Incident Report for 2006 noted a continuing downward trend in the number of boat breakdowns and surface incidents during the 2006 reporting year and perhaps explains the downward trend in RNLI involvement (increasing use of helicopters for DCI incidents being a further explanation) it is a trend we all would wish to continue? In attempting to address any such trend ensuring that all who go to sea are as well informed and trained as possible a variety of resources and training are available but the ‘Sea Safety Guide’ developed by the RNLI is an excellent resource and best of all it is ‘free’ and very user friendly.
Think SAFE - Dive SAFE



What is perfect buoyancy

Apart from being the fundamental skill that underpins all diving from both an enjoyment and safety point of view, what do we really mean by proper buoyancy control? The objective level of required skill will vary depending on the activity and experience but what should that be?

+/- 2m
Well not the ideal but a minimum tolerable target

+/- 1 - 0.5m

Well not the ideal but a minimum tolerable target when diving at this level and not doing anything other than a safety stop or two

Deco procedures and Instructor
+/- 0.3m

Get into deco and this should be the objective. Instructors should be looking at demo quality at definer stages better than this.

Think SAFE - Dive SAFE
Jim Watson
BSAC Safety and Development Manager
For more detail and information please visit BSAC Safety


Safe Lifting


One of the most common reasons quoted by divers for giving up the sport is a ‘bad back’. The sport requires the use of fairly substantial, feet placementcumbersome and heavy equipment and yet there are some very simple and basic steps we can all follow to safeguard ourselves. Use the right muscles The largest and most powerful muscles in the body are the thighs. Lifting heavy weights like diving equipment should make use of these by placing the feet either side of the equipment, bending at the knees and keeping the back straight.


pivotKeep it straight

Bending your back and lifting a weight away from the body creates a pivot effect that increases the effective strain/weight as much as ten times. Keeping the back straight and using bent knees to keep the lift in the same plane is much more efficient and safer.

Keep it close

WE all know from experience that the most comfortable and apparently efficient way to carry our dive equipment is strapped to our back. This allows the kit to be held close and the weight to be supported by the shoulders with the load distributed down a straight spine to the legs. Carrying kit in front of the body is less efficient not least because the weight is usually supported by the arms which must be held away from the centre of gravity again inducing a pivot or fulcrum effect. Keeping the weight as close to the body, in what is sometimes described as the ‘green zone’ will reduce this effect

carrying zonesBreak it down

If you have to carry kit more than 10m break it down into smaller components and make more trips. This is even more important after dive when a significant nitrogen loading also has to be considered.

Advice and pictures courtesy of Patricia Smith, BSAC Advanced Instructor and Area Coach.

Think SAFE - Dive SAFE