Watch Out for Decompression Sickness – You Don’t Want to End Up in the Chamber
Risks associated with freediving – Mixing Scuba Diving and Freediving
If you are freediving near scuba divers, never accept air from them. If you accept a breath of air from a scuba diver, that air will be at a higher pressure than that at the surface. If you took a breath at 10m from a scuba diver you will be breathing in twice the volume of air that you would have taken at the surface. If you were to hold your breath and then ascend to the surface, the air inside your lungs would expand by 100%, rupturing your lungs and killing you. If you do ever have to take air from a scuba diver then you must stay with them, breathing continuously, all the way to the surface.
Risks associated with freediving – Making a Risk Assessment and Dive plan
Whenever you get to a new dive site, or whenever conditions change at a dive site you are familiar with, you should write a risk assessment. In addition, each dive session that you do should have a dive plan and, if possible, you should always come to the dive site with a first aid kit, working phone and preferably emergency oxygen. Whenever you do a freediving course there should be those items with the instructor or dive center.
- Risk assessment – This is a document to help you identify specific potential risks associated with freediving at that location. You should put together a plan for reducing the likelihood of them occurring and have a plan in place should one occur. Risks can be identified in terms of the likelihood of them taking place as well as the severity, as well as categorized, for example risks connected to hypoxia, risks connected with the dive site and weather, for example. Each country, dive location and divers will have their own unique risk profile and it is up to you and your buddy to think through potential problems and scenarios. It is not possible to imagine every eventuality, however thinking through the dive site, weather and the kind of people you are diving with will help prevent problems and enable you to think clearly in case one happens.
- Dive plan – A dive plan should encompass the beginning, middle and end of your session, starting before you get in the water. There should be clear communication on when you will start and finish, what the objectives are, and what roles and responsibilities each person has in order to minimise the risks associated with freediving
- First aid kit and other necessities – Each dive site and group will have their needs, however a first aid kit with a pocket mask and a working phone should be mandatory for all divers. Writing your risk assessment should help you evaluate what you need to bring with you.
Risks associated with freediving – The Importance of a Good Buddy
Diving with someone you trust implicitly is one of the most important aspects of your freediving safety. You should always take responsibility for your own freediving, but knowing that your buddy has your back should anything go wrong is invaluable. A good buddy will check that your mask is on correctly, hold your snorkel up during your breathe up to stop water coming in, and rescue you if you black out. You must ensure that you are a good buddy in return and always look out for the health and well-being of all the divers in your group.
Freediving safety is ultimately about understanding the risks associated with freediving, acquiring knowledge about the sport by taking a course and working with an instructor, progressing slowly, listening to your body and being able to react appropriately should something go wrong. By following the steps outlined above and in the rest of these articles it is extremely unlikely that you would ever have an incident, but if one did occur then you would be well placed to deal with it effectively.
Written by Emma Farrell
The Beginner’s Guide to Freediving is written by Emma Farrell. She is one of the world’s leading freediving instructors and has been teaching freediving since 2003. She is the author of the book ‘One Breath, a Reflection on Freediving’, has written courses that are taught worldwide, taught gold medal winning Olympic and Paralympic athletes, and has appeared numerous times on television teaching everyone from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to Ellie Simmonds how to freedive.
Read more about Emma here.
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Read the previous chapter of The Beginner’s Guide to Freediving – ‘Avoiding Black Outs and Hypoxic Fits in Freediving’ here now
Read the next chapter of The Beginner’s Guide to Freediving – ‘Training for Recreational Freediving’ here now.
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