Welcome to part six of The Beginner’s Guide to Freediving, the best place to start your freediving journey. If you’re planning to start freediving, this chapter covers safety for freediving – how to dive safe and buddy for different disciplines.
Safety for Freediving
Safety for freediving is paramount, as we are often pushing our bodies whilst holding our breath. Consequently the number one rule you should always, always remember is this:
NEVER FREEDIVE ALONE!
You should never freedive without a qualified buddy with you at all times, one who is trained and able to rescue you from any scenario you might find yourself in. Safety for freediving means you should ensure that you have a dive plan, a risk assessment and emergency plan, and have told people where you are diving.
You must always ensure that your safety equipment and buoyancy matches the conditions that you find yourself diving in. If you are diving past your point of neutral buoyancy and the natural bottom is deeper than that which your buddy can comfortably rescue you from with zero preparation, or there is any current, or you cannot see the diver at all times, then you must dive with a line and a lanyard, either secured to a boat or a large freediving buoy. You cannot predict what may happen to your body or the environment whilst you freedive, and so you must always dive with every possible safety angle covered. It does not matter how capable a freediver you are; freak accidents can and do happen, and without obeying basic safety rules you cannot guarantee your personal safety.
So, when you’re diving at a new location, ask yourself these ‘Safety for Freediving’ questions:
- Who has dived here before and what can I ask them about the conditions?
- What tides, currents and weather conditions do I need to know about?
- What is the visibility like?
- How deep is the natural bottom?
- How capable am I to rescue my buddy without preparation if they were on the bottom?
- Have I put a safety plan in place that would satisfy my closest family and friends?
- Am I wearing an easily accessible knife or line cutter in case I get entangled in fishing line?
If the natural bottom is deeper than you could comfortably and immediately dive down and pick up your buddy from the bottom and safely recover the both of you, use a line, lanyard and buoy. If there is a current, use a line, lanyard and buoy. If there is limited visibility use a line, lanyard and buoy. Whenever I am teaching a student who seems to have a somewhat lax attitude to their own personal safety, I always remind them before every dive, “imagine your mother is watching you.”
The primary responsibility for your safety as a freediver is you. Choose your equipment, buddy, dive conditions, depth and time wisely. After making sensible decisions about your dive, the next level of safety is your buddy. Buddying is slightly different for certain disciplines, although there are similarities across all. Let’s look at buddying in general and how to buddy for different disciplines.