How to safely practice cave diving
Cave diving is one of the most exhilarating activities you can experience, but flooded caves can be unforgiving and unpredictable dive environments. Safety is of the utmost importance and solid, engrained skills are essential for preventing accidents and injury.
There is no denying the dangers of cave diving, from navigation issues to poor visibility, however ensuring your well-being while under the water is all about risk management. As the old adage goes practice makes perfect so before you dive in, you should familiarise yourself with safety guidelines and have practiced a few times beforehand.
Undergo all the necessary training
Cave diving isn’t just something you can jump into straight away. It is critical that you receive official cave diver training with certified professionals before you put any scuba diving gear on. Instructors will advise you on the theory side of things and you’ll have to gain an Open Water certification.
These courses will teach you how to dive to a certain depth and how to explore mines and wrecks that are in a confined overhead environment. The certification will also cover buoyancy skills, propulsion techniques and what to do in an emergency. However, you will need to have completed at least four open water dives and five other divers are required for you to take the course.
As with any diving, specialist equipment is required when cave diving. You need to invest in durable, high-quality gear that can withstand rocky terrains and dangerous environments. In particular, you will need:
- Guideline: This is crucial for navigation. There should always be a guideline between a dive team and the leader or at the entrance of the cave. It will prevent you from getting lost within a cave system or separated from your group.
- Light: Good visibility is not always guaranteed when cave diving and more often than not, caves and wrecks are totally dark. You will need to bring a torch with you to see but make sure they are fitted with the right torch bulbs like these from RS and bring two extra torches in case the first one fails.
- Fins: These staple elements of diving gear will help you manoeuvre around tight spaces.
- Masks: Your diving mask should be low profile, well-fitted and comfortable.
- Exposure protection: Temperatures may be considerably colder where the light doesn’t reach. To prevent your body from going into shock, you need a thick wetsuit that will keep you warmer for longer.
Knowing your limits
You might be tempted to push yourself when cave diving but knowing physical and mental limitations during any extreme sport is crucial. Pushing yourself too hard could result in injury or worse. Don’t be afraid to listen to your body and know when to stop. Just give your dive leader a thumbs-up sign to end the dive.