A thorough pre-dive inspection should catch it before the dive. Bashing into an overhead beam or other hard surface can also smash the plastic elbow that connects the inflation hose to the bladder or air chamber. In this case, the whole unit may simply come away in your hand. This is a more serious problem because it's about impossible for you to add any air and any air that was providing lift is likely to disappear through what is now an open portal to the outside world.

The remedy for this is to first stabilize one's position in the water column - hang on to whatever it was you bumped into for instance — use your drysuit to attain neutral buoyancy - if you are wearing one (incidentally this is the only time SDI recommends using a drysuit for primary buoyancy control) and make your way slowly to the safety stop and the surface. Your dive is definitely over.

If you do not have a dry-suit you should still be able to swim your gear to the surface. Redundant buoyancy can come from a lift bag, which one would send to the surface and then reel one's self up to. However, this is an advanced skill. If you are over weighted and cannot swim or reel yourself up, drop some or all of your weight. This is an absolute last resort and this may cause you to have an uncontrolled ascent to the surface. By flaring your arms out and arching your back you can slow your ascent. Be sure to remember to exhale all the way to the surface.

Regularly inspect the plastic elbow which joins the low-pressure intake hose to the be.

Broken Mask, Fin Strap, Flooded Drysuit, and Other Nuisances

Broken Mask

If you were diving with a buddy and he lost his mask for some reason, you would guide him home, deal with any dangling equipment issue and ensure he did not bump into any rocks, smash against coral or miss his safety stop. If a solo diver loses a mask for any reason, such as a broken strap, there may be nobody around to help so it follows he must carry a back-up mask and be able to switch to it without missing a beat.

Broken Fin Strap

At depth a broken strap or fin buckle has more nuisance value than potential for serious bodily harm since with a little practice it's possible for most divers to manage a reasonable level of manoeuvrability swimming with only one fin. This is one of those skills that's definitely worth practicing in shallow, still water until one masters the technique - a dolphin kick works as does a modified frog kick.

Flooded Drysuit

Some might argue that every diver with more than a dozen dives in a drysuit has experienced flooding to some extent... but these "common events" usually entail something like a teacupful of water rushing into a neck seal with a chilling wake-up call. There are two other potential problems that may cause a drysuit to leak

• The most minor is dirt, debris or lint from insulation preventing the exhaust valve from seating properly and allowing water in or air out.

• The most serious is failure of the dump valve to exhaust air. The causes of this may be damage to valve or automatic function not working.

• A true dry suit flood - a large tear that allows water to "fill" the suit for example - presents another serious threat to a diver's well-being. Luckily, diving within the No Decompression Limits, the appropriate response is to abort the dive and move at a sensible speed - following the ascent-rate indicator on your dive computer - to a safety stop and from there to the surface.

It is important to note that even though the dry suit is now full of water, in the case of a flood, this will probably not make the diver any more negatively buoyant and the diver will still have use of their BCD in control their buoyancy. The biggest problem is the diver will most likely become very cold very quickly, and they will have to move the weight of the water filling their suit when they exit the water, which can be a tricky exercise. In any event it is important for the diver in a flooded suit to get to the surface and into warm, dry clothing.

Suffice to say, most of the above problems can be prevented by simply taking care of ones gear. This is done both prior to the dive by doing annual service and during the dive by avoiding sharp objects and not knocking into underwater obstacles. Simply put, take care of the equipment above water that is going to take care of you underwater.

Review Questions

1. What prevents most equipment failures?

2. List the five things a solo diver must inspect on the regulator prior to diving.

3. List the different types of redundant gas supply options available to a solo diver.

4. Which presents more of a problem underwater, a broken mask strap or a broken fine strap?

5. How would a diver wearing a wet suit ascend to the surface if they ruptured their BCD and it could not hold any gas?

Dealing with Emergencies without Panic

In this chapter, you'll learn about

Fight and Flight Deconditioning Panic Comfort Zone Mental strength Practice is cool

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Guide To Scuba Diving

Guide To Scuba Diving

Many people think that space is our final frontier and that is not entirely true. While it is more difficult to get to outer space, we probably know more about the various planetsand environments in space than wedo about what lies beneath the surface of our oceans.

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