SCUBA Diving is one of the most beautiful activities you can do, and Perth is one of the best areas in the world for offering close by fantastic dives to suit all skill levels.
However, Scuba Diving is not without risks, especially to our personal safety and health.
There are many facets to diving, most notably the technical aspect of your dive gear and tanks.
To this end I will defer to the experts, but I would advise to always keep your dive gear in good working order, with regular service checks and maintain up-to-date skills and training.
You should always dive with a partner or ‘dive buddy’ and you should always plan you dive well, taking into account all possible factors.
Just like your gear needs a service check… so should you.
All divers should ensure a minimum level of fitness and health, to ensure you do not put yourself at undue risk both during and after your dive.
Diving, whilst sometimes being one of the most relaxing and stress-free activities, can also be quite physically demanding and is at the mercy of the conditions mother nature provides on the day.
It is well documented, that the sheer physical demands of diving can be up to 13 METS (equivalent to significant running or cycling) and as such any diver should have the physical fitness to handle this requirement.
In addition, you should be able to lift reasonably heavy items (such as your dive gear and tank) and you be able to pull yourself up onto the boat launch at the completion of a dive.
Dive doctors screen for conditions that increase the risk of a dive-related medical complication, such as decompression illness or barotrauma. Regular medical checks for divers also entail screening and optimising other conditions which if poorly managed may represent increased risk while diving, such as asthma or diabetes.
Some conditions, such as migraines, may mimic decompression illness during initial onset, so optimal control is crucial.
Dive doctors can also teach divers about red flag symptoms to be alert to during and after your dive which warrant further action and assessment.
However, should significant complications arise, Perth divers can take solace that we have access to a world-class hyperbaric unit located at Fiona Stanley Hospital.
So, whether you dive regularly or only occasionally, to minimise your risk while diving stay fit and healthy, ensure your dive gear is in good working order, keep your skills up to date, know your limits, and discuss your fitness to dive with an experienced dive doctor every year before dive season.
Most of all, enjoy your dive.
This article was written by Dr. Ben Grant for the Western Suburbs Weekly