The air failure in diving does not happen only to others! It is not only theory, but fortunately, it is rare…
The air failure is threatening, especially for beginners, but we are taught to anticipate and manage it during our formation.Of course, everything we live under water is magical, but the fear of running out of air is normal. Breathe through a powerful machine has an artificial character that can make the practise of this sport a bit strangel. Running out of air is nothing normal.
Prevention is better than cure, in diving as well as in other domains.
I made that unpleasant experience last summer in Corsica. Fortunately my different courses and readings on that subject, helped me a lot.
These are the five tips I want to give you.
My readings helped me overcome the situation which could have degenerate. (Please find the link of the article that relates this disastrous dive).
Most of the time, the air failure results from a poor assessment of our air consumption under water. It can also happen when the equipment has a malfunction. But this can be prevented but not with 100% guarantee.
Personally this second case stresses me more than the rest, because it is not predictable and you don’t feel when it happens.
There are other factors that have to be taken in consideration. Difficult diving conditions, poor visibility, cold, tiredness, stress, fear, intensive palmage, on and ballast…can induce a higher air consumption. (This is what happened to us during our diving in Corsica).
First tip: Plan your diving as best as you can. In English it’s very common to hear “Plan the dive, dive the plan!”
First thing to do is choosing a block with sufficient capacity depending on your consumption.
Make sure it’s fully filled. I don’t understand why some diving clubs do a “foolish” filling. It was my case in Corsica and everything could have been avoided…
The air need is different from one person to another. Personally, I usually use 12L. My “buddy” uses 15L. He is reassured even though he does not need it. The depth also influences the air consumption. It is therefore very important to pay attention to your dive profile. It is absolutely necessary to make a precise preparation of your dive: itinerary, planning, communication on your air level. Please do really
insist on the preparation. Last summer in Corsica, they were too busy mooring the boat because of the current. They should have cancelled the dive because the preparation was next to nil.
For your safety, immersion is an important moment.
Usually, instructions are given on the surface to anticipate and react in different situations. Most of the time, you will be asked to increase of 50 bars. Listen carefully to the instructions in case of a problem.
Depending on clubs and weather conditions, a safety block is submerged under the boat.
During my dive in Corsica, the block was too light and was on the surface as the current was going up, making the block totally useless for us. We had a landing to do after a dive at 40 meters…
Before immersion, check the opening of your bottle. This may sound strange and silly, but many accidents happen because of a bad opening of the bottle. Do a weight test.
In short, check an re-check your hardware and the one of your “buddy”.
Diving with safety recommendations in mind, allowed me to stay serene during that dive.
Stay always attentive to your “pair” (I’m sometimes a little painful but so am I!). Stay always close to him to be able to intervene quickly in case of a breakdown and vice versa.
Your octopus must be visible and accessible (a source of vital air) in case of a sudden air failure. I have a red cap that you can see from far away that should allow a quick and efficient mouth. Your manometer must also be visible. I can tell you that between the moment then the breathing becomes difficult and when there are still 20 to 30 bars and the moment when no more air arrives, time seems very long. I’ve tested it for you!
If you are too far away (and it happens to everybody, especially for those who like to take pictures under water), the situation can quickly become unmanageable.
Finally, communicate regularly the evolution of your consumption, (on that day, I consumed 80 bars in pure loss, the guide of dive was a fool, he had only one idea in mind, join the boat, against the current!). Be always very attentive to external factors, such as current, cold and the distance…
If I had been autonomous, during this dive, I would not have left myself embark. At 50bars, I would have taken out the parachute and I would have wait for my pick up after having done my landing, instead of finishing painfully on 2 different Octopus.
Before last practical advice, ensure the maintenance of the equipement.
Of course, you will say, it seems obvious but it’s better saying it. The material is the vital basis of our safety under water. The equipment available in the clubs and its condition must, in my opinion, be examined before. When you start diving , the choice of the club is very important. Booking on internet is good, but going on the spot the day before is better. Personally I have all my own equipment and I welcome it! Knowing your material is an important factor.
Without a revised and efficient material, it is impossible to dive safely! Also, feel free to have it revised every year: regulators, stab, computer… Do not miss the maintenance, your safety depends on it. Also remember to rinse your stuff…
Well! Personally I regularly bring my equipment to my friend Stéphane from Sub marine in Nice…
Finally and this will be my last suggestion: train and practice!
To conclude on a positive note, the courses received and the training provided by my Club in Nice, “Le Diving Eagle Boat”, allowed me to manage with serenity this difficult situation that could have gone wrong. So my last advice is to train well, practise, nothing is used to pass its levels at a frenzied rate, to chain them at all costs.Take your time!