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Is Diving Safe?
Yes it is! Scuba diving has an extremely low percentage of far less then 1% of the participants getting injured. That percentage is a lot higher for activities like basketball, bicycle riding and swimming, just to name a few examples. In Florida, where there´s a lot of diving going on, more people die each year of crocodile attacks than from diving incidents. Worldwide, there are more people killed by falling coconuts than by dive related incidents. Scuba Diving is often perceived as extreme, difficult, complicated and dangerous. "You have to go deep", "you get cold" and "you need to be as fit as a Navy Seal", oh yeah, and "there are sharks lurking behind every rock, ready to feed on the passing divers". The truth is that by now diving is within everybody´s reach in a simple and safe way without losing the fun and excitement this activity offers. We are the first to admit that like any "extreme" sport, certain risks exist but you can learn to calculate and control these risks and enjoy diving in a safe way, being prepared to deal with any situation that may arise or, even better, prevent those situations from ever happening. Scuba Diving is very safe, as long as you get the proper training and follow the rules and safety standards! And by the way, you really don´t need to be afraid of that shark....
Following you´ll find information on diver training and education, what to look for when choosing a dive center or Instructor, and the general rules and standards that make diving safe. Whether you want to rent equipment, do a course or go on a dive trip, whether you´re a beginner or an experienced diver, remember that safety should always come first!
A good way to make sure your diving experience will be safe is to look for a professional dive center. In a dive center you´ll usually find everything you need conveniently in one place. Now, how can you tell a dive center is professional? The easiest, is to look for a dive center that is affiliated with one of the international recreational diving organizations like PADI, NAUI, SSI, & CMAS, to name but a few. There are also a wide variety of national diving organizations like BSAC (UK), FMAS & CIMAS (Mexico), VDTL & VIT (Germany), NOB (Holland), etc. Often these are affiliated with CMAS and therefore also internationally recognized. Please note that the organizations mentioned are just a few examples, there are hundreds worldwide! The dive center should be able to show you proof of their affiliation which normally has to be renewed every year, just a sticker on the door with the name or logo of the diving organization does not mean anything! If you have any doubt, contact the concerning organization to verify the status of the dive center in question. Most organizations have a list of affiliated dive centers on their websites. Dive centers affiliated with diving organizations have to comply with the requirements set forth by the organization with respect to dive safety, equipment, insurance, courses, staff qualifications, services they offer, etc., so you can be reasonably sure you´ll receive the proper service, with the proper equipment and by properly trained staff. You can also be reasonably sure they will conduct their diving and training in a safe and professional way. Obviously this can never be guaranteed so you should be familiar with the general safety rules and standards to ensure yourself that the dive center follows them.
If you would like a Dive Center that is recognized for their commitment to dive safety, look for a DAN Partner in Dive Safety
For more info on the different PADI Centers and the requirements they have to comply with, go to PADI Centers
There are some other ways as well for you to check out a dive center. You can check if their tanks have had a hydrostatic test within the required period (usually 5 years), you can ask to see maintenance records of the rental equipment and a recent air analysis report of their compressed air, you can check if they have an oxygen kit and medic first aid kit which they take on the dives (they will often have it on the boat), you can ask for the credentials of your dive guide or Instructor, etc., etc. If you are in doubt that you´re dealing with professionals you should look for another dive center.
DAN Partner in Dive Safety
Where safety is concerned, the most fireproof way of selecting a dive center that puts safety before everything else is selecting a DAN Partner in Dive Safety. They can be recognized by the logo on the left. What is the DAN Partner in Dive Safety Program? Here´s what DAN says: "This program recognizes those within the diving industry who have made a commitment to promote diving safety by achieving a high degree of emergency preparedness for the direct benefit of traveling sport divers the world over. These resorts, live-aboards and charter services should be applauded for their efforts on behalf of the diving public."
Here are the criteria and requirements for dive centers that are, or want to become, a DAN Partner in Dive Safety:
Staff Emergency Preparedness
All staff must have current certification and documentation of training from accredited organizations, in the following areas of emergency managment:
Planning, Equipment & Procedures
All operations must have a functional emergency plan, with appropriate equipment and procedures:
Emergency Assistance Plan
Emergency Oxygen Unit (in good working order!)
Medic First Aid Kit
Safety Stop Device/Procedure
Pre Dive Briefing
Post Dive Diver Roll Call (using CBID tag system)
You can find a list of dive centers that have earned this important recognition on the DAN Website
DAN stands for Divers Alert Network. DAN is based in the USA and is an intenational, non-profit organization dedicated to dive safety and in membership, actually the biggest organization related with diving worldwide. They do research, operate a Medical Emergency Hotline for divers, offer courses to divers like Oxygen Provider, Medic First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries, courses for Hyperbaric Chamber Operators and other medical personel and they offer Dive Accident Insurance.
Training and Education
If you are a novice in this sport it is of vital importance that you receive professional instruction and the best way to do that is look for a dive center recognized by one of the Training Agencies for Recreational Diving. In the world of scuba diving there are a huge amount of organizations, some more serious and professional then others and with various levels of international recognition. Some of the international ones are PADI, NAUI, SSI & CMAS to give you a few examples. Then there are a variety of national training organizations like BSAC (UK), FMAS & CIMAS (Mexico), VDTL & VIT (Germany), NOB (Holland), etc. Often these are affiliated with CMAS and therefore also internationally recognized. Please note that the organizations mentioned are just a few examples, there are hundreds worldwide!
PADI stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors, with its headquarters in California, USA is by far the largest diver training organization and is highly recognized worldwide. With 3000 PADI Dive Centers in more then 100 countries, a membership of more then 100.000 Diving Professionals (Divemasters, Assistant Instructors, Instructors and Course Directors) and teaching materials in more then 25 languages, PADI Instructors worldwide certified close to 1.000.000 divers every year for the last few years. Around 70% of all diver certifications worldwide are issued by PADI. This didn´t happen overnight, PADI was founded in 1966 and their succes is due to a solid educational foundation for their wide range of diving courses and programs. Besides that, the "PADI System of Diver Education" is based on a "need to know" basis for all the different levels of diver training, which made diving something that everybody could get into and also turned learning to dive into a fun, and above all, safe experience as opposed to the military style training courses for die-hards that exsisted in the 60´s. PADI was the first organization to introduce Instructor Training with a separate Instructor Development Course and Instructor Exam. This means that the instructor examination is completely objective which in turn made the PADI Instructor the most respected and wanted diving instructor in the industry. Whether you want to learn diving, continue your education or become a professional, with PADI you can´t go wrong! For more info on PADI go to: www.padi.com
No matter what organization you choose to get certified with, make sure that the Dive Center and/or Instructor you receive your training from is a current and up-to-date member of the organization in question. You can check that by verifying the details on wall certificates or certification cards, just a sticker on the door with the name or logo of the diving organization does not mean anything! If you have any doubt, contact the concerning organization to verify the status of the Dive Center and/or Instructor (most organizations have a list of affiliated dive centers on their websites). Only then you can be reasonably sure you will receive the proper training, with the proper materials and equipment by an up-to-date professional who fullfills the requirements set forth by the organization with respect to insurance, qualifications, equipment, safety standards, etc., and that you will receive a valid scuba diver certification. Besides that, you can be reasonably sure that your dive training will be conducted in a safe and professional way. Another point to consider is if you plan to dive on trips abroad, on your vacation for example, you are best off with an internationally recognized organization so your certification card will be accepted wherever you go. If you would like to receive your training from a Dive Center that is recognized for their commitment to dive safety, look for a DAN Partner in Dive Safety
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