One of the most important predive steps is dive planning. Learn as much as possible in advance about any dive site you plan to dive.
- Before you even head out to a site, make sure to investigate currents, depths, marine life, entry and exit points, surfacing techniques, boat traffic, environmental health concerns, etc.
- Check out what surface support you may need and what local laws or regulations may apply to your planned diving activity.
- Inform someone who is not coming on your trip what your dive plan is and when you expect to be back.
- Prior to your dive, make sure you and your buddy are on the same dive plan. Discuss contingencies should conditions change during your dive. Establish the maximum depth, maximum bottom time and minimum air supply to terminate the dive.
- Review what you and your buddy would do if you were to become separated, exceed your planned dive or experience an out-of-air emergency or an equipment issue underwater. Having these discussions on the surface helps you prepare as a buddy team to manage any situations that may arise while underwater.
- Review hand signals with your buddy.
- Conduct a predive test on all of your equipment, particularly any rented gear. Use a written or mnemonic checklist to ensure you don’t overlook an essential step. Don’t skip the buddy check.
- Remember to create an emergency action plan (EAP). This essential tool that divers are taught how to construct in their advanced training courses should include what prompts an emergency response, important contact information, the nearest medical facility and the best means of getting there as well as essential first aid equipment.
- Dive planning doesn’t have to be complicated or inflexible, but it is essential to prevent and manage diving incidents.