Diver readiness is a way of assessing whether a diver has the appropriate experience, training, equipment and dive knowledge to do a specific diving course or fun dive. Furthermore diver readiness can also be defined by personal limits and psychological limits.
What is “Diver Readiness”
Diver training can be conducted in many different environments and conditions. Training varies greatly in quality and thoroughness. As a recreational diver, most divers do not dive regularly enough in order to maintain their diving skills. Getting “away” without doing a scuba review and partaking in dives beyond training limits spawns overconfidence, which fuels a false sense of security.
This can often create a far too casual approach to scuba diving and its safety rules and requirements. When we hear stories of people that have been to 22 meters in a swim through on a try dive before, we hear alarm bells. This is not “cool” but reckless on the dive operators part and the certified diver’s judgment.
A dive operator that takes the time to assess a diver’s readiness from checking certifications and logbooks to dive insurance cares about that diver’s wellbeing.
Experience & Training
A diver’s experience refers to the diver’s dive history. Where have they dived before? How many dives have they done? How frequently do they dive?
Someone that has trained in ice cold water and zero visibility has experience in this type of environment. For a recreational diver 30-50 dives is quite a lot. If you dive every year vs once every now and then will also make a difference in assessing your readiness.
Training on the other hand looks at the diver’s certifying organisation and certification level. How long ago was the training conducted and in what region and conditions did the diver learn all play a part.
Equipment & Dive Knowledge
There is so much different dive equipment from wing to pocket BCDs, dry suit to rash guards all the way down to DIN and yolk valves. A lot of times equipment is setup for the diver and staff even put your fins on for you! This might lead to a fading in knowledge of dive equipment. We find that divers often want to learn and understand the equipment they are about to take underwater to breathe.
We also see divers that were sold on an entire dive gear package without their best interest in mind. Equipment that is ill fitted, not appropriate for the conditions and even regulators that are put together wrong. Possibly the most common being not knowing how exactly your dive computer works. Unfortunately it is too late to figure it out underwater. Again, please bring all your equipment and we are happy to take a look at it and help you figure it out.
Every time I brief students on a diving course, I notice some very keen certified divers listening in to expand their dive knowledge. Many did not receive thorough training and are curious to “top up” their knowledge. The best part is that dive knowledge can far extend training limits! Knowing about technical diving as a recreational diver is a great way to decide in what area your next diver training might be.
Physical & Medical
While there are very few physical limits to scuba diving, being aware of ones own physical abilities is a must for safe diving practices. There are age limits, 10 years being the youngest certifiable diver age. However in the later years of life it depends more on ability and comfort. Older divers are recommended to keep diving more conservative. Diver fitness will determine how strenuous a diver might find a particular dive. This in turn might deter a diver from a strenuous dive all together.
Medical clearance is a must for diving. Diving is still a new recreational area that carries certain risks. In order to provide the safest possible start for a new diver, they need to pass the diving medical form. We also recommend that fun divers get clearance from their family doctor. In the very unlikely event that something does happen, insurance will want to see these documents.
Personal & Psychological
Possibly the most important and most overlooked criteria for assessing diver readiness. A diver’s personal limits are not easily discovered. Sometimes people feel peer pressure to “do a dive” without feeling completely comfortable. Knowing and communicating personal diving limits is the responsibility of the certified diver. Often people request to do shallower dives, which is a very reasonable request if one has not dived in many years.
Psychological limitations can be temporary and surprise a diver that is about to commit to a giant stride off the boat. In these instances it is difficult to notice. If something does not feel right at any point before, during or after a dive, let your dive guide know. A few little things that were brushed off can lead to panic later on during a dive. Read this interesting article on how panic develops in a diver.
There are so many factors to consider diver readiness that it is difficult to assess without meeting the diver themselves. PADI recommends a Scuba Review after about 6 months of diving inactivity, however this leaves plenty of flexibility in assessing readiness. As a certified diver you are essentially responsible for your own safety.
We are very open people and excited about diving. If you want to learn more or have a “stupid question” please just ask us.
We recommend that you consider a Scuba Refresher if you at all feel like you “should” do one. Our Divemasters do a very personalised and thorough review that is sure to get you ready for your next diving course of fun dive.
Ever experienced something that should not have happened on a dive? Share your story in the comments below.
Another confusing issue that needs more training focus is the difference between PSI and BAR on dive computers and gauges.