Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Checklist for Referral Divers for their dive destination. What you need to know when you're completing your dives internationally. #scuba #scubadiving #scubareferral #divedestination


• standard agency or company only

While each company can create their own documents to run their business, every agency provides all dive shops and instructors a free to download standardized medical history questionnaire and liability release. Most agencies have student record folders that a shop or instructor can purchase but they are not required. The agencies you've probably have heard of and will interact with include: BSAC, CMAS, GUE, IANTD, IDEA, NASE, NASDS, NAUI, NSS-CDS, PADI, PDIC, RAID, SDI, SSI, TDI, UTD, and YMCA. These agencies require use of a RSTC, WRSTC, or their own forms for the Medical History Questionnaire and Liability Release.

  Required by the agency, required for the instructor, required by the government, or not required

While the United States is a litigious society, there are countries that do not require Professional Liability Insurance, Business Licenses, or ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

Please contact these agency headquarters to confirm whether your dive shop and/or instructor in the country you are traveling to are required to have Professional Liability Insurance and the minimum policy coverage and limits. If the dive shop holds a group insurance policy, is that valid for independent instructors and are they signed with them? If your instructor is independent of a dive shop, do they own their own Professional Liability Insurance? If that agency does not require shops or instructors to have insurance, does the government of that country require it. Please keep in mind that US Citizens might not have the rights and privileges of that country's citizens. Consider buying traveling and diving insurance through DAN (Divers Alert Network). It is very inexpensive.

NAUI:; 800-553-6284
PADI:; 800-729-7234
TDI/SDI:; 888-778-9073
DAN:; +1-919-684-2948

• complete or mismatched
• proper fit 
• inspection and assembly prior to departing the dive shop
• tanks: hydro and visuals

Each certification agency might vary slightly in the required equipment to complete certification, but here are some that are likely to be required across all agencies: mask; snorkel; boots; fins; BCD; regulator system (1st stage, primary 2nd stage, an octo or alternate air source, pressure gauge, depth gauge, timing device, dive computer); compass; cylinder; weights; weight belt; signal marker buoy; finger spool and line; cutting tool; exposure/thermal protection; and dive light. While not all dive shops will offer dive computers, a dive computer can take sometimes take the place of a depth gauge, timing device, pressure gauge, and compass. You should find out what brand and model of dive computer you will be renting if you don't own your own so that you can download the instruction manual ahead of time to read it. Remember, the scuba diving gear you are diving with is life support equipment. While mechanical failure is rare, if you don't inspect it prior to leaving the dive shop, you could be accepting responsibility for defective or failing equipment.

A cylinder is due to be inspected and tested at the first time it is to be filled after the expiration of the interval as specified by the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, Model Regulations, or as specified by national or international standards applicable in the region of use. 

United States: hydrostatic test every 5 years; visual inspection is not required by the USA DOT. The visual inspection requirement is a diving industry standard based on observations made during a review by the National Underwater Accident Data Center.
  • European Union: hydrostatic test every 5 years; visual inspection is required every 2.5 years
  • Norway: hydrostatic test (including a visual inspection) 3 years after production date, then every 2 years
  • Australia: hydrostatic test every 12 months
  • South Africa: hydrostatic test every 4 years; visual inspection every 1 year
  • Mexico: hydrostatic test every 3 years

• air quality inspection certificate

Each country has it's own standards and limits for contaminates regarding the testing of breathing gas (air) that goes into a scuba cylinder. 

Here is some information from the United States:

NOAA defines acceptable air to be that which meets the compressed gas association (CGA) grade E standard or better. The following table is taken from the NOAA Scientific Diving Standards and Safety Manual, section 3.6, August, 2008.

Oxygen: 20-22%/v
Carbon Monoxide: 10 ppm/v
Carbon Dioxide: 1000 ppm/v
Condensed Hydrocarbons: 5 mg/m3
Total Hydrocarbons as Methane: 25 ppm/v
Water Vapor: (ppm) 2
Objectionable Odors: None 

United States: OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration);
ISO standards: (International Organization for Standardization);

Did you remember to bring your logbook? Are you going to log each dive after each dive? Will the instructor sign your logbook after each dive or at the end of the certification weekend? 

The dive briefing and planning stage before the dive is often more critical than the dive itself. Dive briefings that are 5-10 minutes are inadequate. If you've never been on this dive site, in that gear, with 30-70lbs of gear on your back, and lack the experience to deal with unforeseen issues that might occur while underwater, and 5-10 minutes will do it, that's assuming a lot!

Any student that is relying on the instructor to save them if the shit hits the fan, don't forget that this instructor may have six other students and only two hands! Let's say a student bolts to the surface. Does that instructor go after them and leave the group or let that person go and stay with the group? Your perspective changes when you are in both positions.

• Site
Where are you diving? The name of the dive site and the city, state. What is the history of this dive site? How often do people dive here? Is this an intermediate, advanced, or technical dive location? 

• Environment
Environment may be different than site. What does the topography of the floor in that body of water look like? Does it change when the tide changes? Is there a current? Are there any hazards? What kind of animal life lives there? What are some of the permanent fixtures you'll see there? Is there a general area that one should avoid and for what reasons? Is the bottom rocky, silty, sandy, etc. What is the visibility like? What is the temperature of the water? 

•  Emergency 
Emergencies happen. Being prepared is the key to all situations. Do you know where you are and can you explain directions to EMS if needed? If you are in a foreign country, what is their emergency management system protocols? If there is an emergency, does someone need to go to the road to escort them to the site of the accident? Where is the emergency oxygen? Is the cylinder full, is the regulator connected, and is it ready to be used instantly? Is there an AED and can everyone use it? Where is the nearest decompression chamber?

• Activity (see skills below)
What is our goal of diving at this site and doing this dive? When will you go? How long will the dive be? Will there be any skills required to be demonstrated? Are there any skills that are required to dive on this site? What do you do if divers get lost or separated? What are the communication hand signals that will be used? Who is your dive buddy? Will there be a dive debriefing? Who is leading the dive?

• Buoyancy
As addressed in "Environment", there may be special considerations about this dive site that particular attention to buoyancy are required. While good buoyancy is always a good idea, if the topography has to be always in mind (silty bottom, no bottom, dangerous objects or animal life), how does one modify their diving to adapt to it? Are special kicking techniques required? Will buoyancy be controlled only through one's BCD, drysuit, or both?

• Air
Gas consumption is always a consideration, however there are several factors that can effect how much gas you breath; one's diving experience, the work load you'll be undertaking, task loading and the amount of equipment you will be operating during the dive, depth of the dive, time at depth, time in the dive, emergency air sharing, and possible decompression requirements. How does one communicate how much air they have and do they know their SAC rate or RMV? Does the size of the cylinder matter and what about tank volume baseline? Will one be required to end the dive with a certain amount of gas in reserve?

• Gear
New divers might not own any of their own gear yet and the gear they use at their dive destination may be different than what they used at home. Gear that is likely to be used is listed above. Was an inspection of the equipment done at the dive shop or is the first time you are looking at it? Is everyone diving with the same kind of gear or are some divers equipped with different styles, brands, manufacturers and does one's dive buddy (chosen or assigned) know how to manage it? If you are going to do a buddy check, have you tried ditching that persons weight, releasing weight pockets, buckles, and clasps or were you just told how they work? Is everyone diving with an octopus or does anyone have an air-source, integrated-air, or RBS (redundant breathing system) and have they explained to others how they will share air in the event of an OOA (out of air) situation? Does everyone have a dive computer? Is anyone diving tables? Does anyone have a "Save-a-Dive" kit?

Conditions can vary from dive site to dive site and even effect the ability to complete a skill, but there are some minimum skills that every diver should be asked to do. Some of these skills are done prior to entering the water, upon entering the water, only in confined water (pool), and open water. Each agency has it's own version of how these skills should be performed as well as the professional opinion of the instructor that is demonstrating them or the evaluation of skill presented to the instructor. 


  • Demonstrate swim stroke proficiency of at least 15 continuous stroke cycles
  • 10 minute survival swim
  • 50 feet underwater swim, 1 breath

Skin Diving
  • 450 yards snorkel swim, non-stop
  • Recover diver from about 10 feet

Skin Diving Techniques
  • Water entries and exits
  • Surface dives
  • Surface swimming
  • Clearing the snorkel
  • Ditching the weight belt
  • Buoyancy control
  • Underwater swimming and surfacing

  • Pre and Post Dive Skills
  • Select, check, assemble, and don equipment
  • Pre-dive gear check for self and buddy
  • Defog masks
  • Doff, rinse, and care for gear

  • Entries and exits
  • Perform surface buoyancy/weighting check
  • Surface communications for divers
  • Orally inflate/deflate own and buddy's BC
  • At surface remove (in turn) equipment
  • Face submerged, breathe through snorkel, rest/swim
  • Face submerged, breathe through water in snorkel
  • Release simulated cramp for self and buddy
  • Entry/exit, use of float/flag (if applicable)
  • Deploy a signal marker buoy 

  • Control pressure in air spaces
  • Control feet first descent with breath or BC
  • Controlled ascent with precautionary stop

  • Give, recognize, and respond to U/W signals
  • Mask clearing, including remove and replace
  • Remove, replace, and clear primary regulator
  • Primary regulator recovery
  • Hover without support
  • Use of buddy system
  • Monitor air supply -- communicate amount
  • Environmental and compass navigation
  • Compass navigation, bearings, and reciprocal

  • Surface air consumption calculation
  • Plan then make no-deco dive between 40-60 feet
  • Calculate repetitive no-deco dive using tables

  • Diving with minimal impact on environment
  • Marine life identification

  • Transport 50 yards simulated exhausted buddy
  • Share air both as donor and receiver
  • Perform controlled emergency swimming ascent
  • Alternate air share both as donor/receiver
  • Retrieve unconscious diver from 10 feet

No one expects to have a dive accident. Dive accidents don't just happen under the water. You're also carrying around 35-70 pounds of equipment depending on where you do your dive and how much weight you'll be wearing. Some of these items below are good old-fashioned common sense. Just because you know what you're suppose to do, or not do, accidents can still happen if you let it. Remember, the video of the two divers? Don't forget, "Who's the barber, here?"
  • Be trained and certified by a professional underwater instructor.
  • Maintenance good physical and mental conditions for diving. Be at ease in the water. Only dive when feeling well. Do not use any intoxicating liquor or dangerous drugs before diving. 
  • Have a regular medical exam for diving.
  • Use correct, complete, well-maintained diving equipment, which is checked before each dive. Equipment must not be loaned to non-certified divers. Use a buoyancy compensator, plus a submersible pressure guage and alternate air source.
  • Know the limitations of yourself, your buddy and your equipment. Use the best possible judgment and common sense in planning each dive. Allow a margin of safety in order to be prepared for emergencies. Set moderate limits for depth and time in the water.
  • Know your diving location. Avoid dangerous places and poor conditions.
  • Control your buoyancy to make diving as easy as possible. Strive for neutral buoyancy. Be prepared to ditch your weights. Make an emergency ascent, clear your mask or take other emergency action if needed. In an emergency: Stop, Breathe, Think, Act.
  • Never dive alone. Always buddy dive -- know each other's equipment. Know hand signals and stay in contact.
  • Use a boat or float as a surface support station whenever this will increase the safety and enjoyment of the dive. Fly the "diver down" flag to warn boaters that divers are underwater. 
  • Slowly surface close to the float and flag, watching and listening for possible hazards. (See "Safe Boat Diving Practices")
  • Beware of breath holding. Breathe continuously throughout all scuba diving activities. Emphasize exhalation any ascents. Without scuba: avoid excessive "over breathing" before a skin dive; do not overexert. Know your limits and allow for a margin of safety. Be sure to equalize pressure early and often both during ascent and descent.
  • If your are cold, tired, injured, out of air or not feeling well, get out of the water. Diving is no longer fun or safe. If any abnormality persists, get medical attention.
  • Know decompression procedures, tables and emergency procedures. Make all dives as "no decompression" dives. Avoid stage decompression particularly on repetitive dives, at altitude or when flying after diving. Wait a minimum of 24 hours before flying or driving to altitude.
  • Ascend no faster than 30 feet per minute -- ascend 10 feet and wait for 20 seconds -- one foot every two seconds, etc...
  • Make a "recommended safety stop" at the end of dives. That means you should pause at about 15-18 feet for a minimum of three minutes before your final ascent to the surface. For dives deeper than 60 feet, do a "recommended deep stop." Ascend half of the deepest part of that dive and pause for 90 seconds. Ascend half that distance again and pause for another 90 seconds. Safety stops and deep stops may be combined.
  • Continue your scuba training by diving regularly, taking additional training, specialty courses, refresher courses, and continuing education. Log all dives and make at least 24 dives each year (like 2 dives on one day each month).

Diving from a boat is fun. Sometimes you can't learn it all before getting certified, but here are some things to remember. If you aren't sure, ask someone on the boat. The Divemaster or Instructor will be more than happy to answer any questions you have. If you're not going to dive or you're not on a dive boat, ask the First Mate or Captain. While some countries don't have a Coast Guard, most have a Navy. 
  • Select a Coast Guard licensed boat that is fully equipped with the required safety equipment and has diver support and safety equipment.
  • Ask to receive boat diving techniques training as a part of your basic, sport or advanced diving courses.
  • Rely on the Captain's knowledge of the most suitable dive sites. Plan your dive using the specific site information provided by the crew or Divemaster.
  • Only sign up for trip destinations that are consistent with your ability and dive plan.
  • Arrive at the boat 15 minutes before departure. Stow your well marked gear in the assigned locations. Respect the boat facilities: no wet suits in the bunk room or dropping tanks or weight belts on the deck.
  • Between dives keep dive gear in your bag to avoid lost or broken equipment. Assist your buddy with his/her tank. Do not sit on the deck to put your tank on or you may get hit on the head by another diver's tank.
  • Use your equipment to dive easily and safely. Do not over weight yourself. Only use your BC to fine tune your buoyancy during the dive or to compensate for a heavy game bag at the end of the dive.
  • No loaded spear guns are EVER allowed on the boat or boarding ramp. Bring a container for your game. Help keep the boat deck clean and clear.
  • Use the boat exit points recommended by the crew. Move away from the boat exit once you are in the water. Either snorkel clearly on the surface or begin your descent down the anchor line. Do not use scuba to skim just under the surface. If you just skim the surface you cannot be seen by passing boats or other divers.
  • Fins should be put on last while you are waiting near the exit. Do not walk around the deck wearing fins.
  • Be sure to use a compass and submersible pressure gauge. Plan your dive so you end the dive with a reserve of air and are able to return to the boat while still under water.
  • Be aware of changes in current conditions during the dive. Use natural clues such as seaweed. Look for current lines trailed behind the boat on the surface. Do not hesitate to pull yourself hand-over-hand back to the boat using this line.
  • Use common sense, training, and experience and ask questions if you are unsure. Allow for a "margin of reserve" and do not push your endurance limits. Watch for other divers waving one arm while on the surface. They are signaling a diver in distress. Divers who maintain personal control and are comfortable in the water have safe, enjoyable experience under water.


"Every dive is a dream come true."
Twitter Blogger Facebook Google+ YouTube Instagram Newsletter 
JCA Elite Scuba

No comments:

NEW VS. USED SCUBA EQUIPMENT; Which should you buy?

NEW VS. USED SCUBA EQUIPMENT Which should you buy? How much is a 10 year old piece of scuba equipment worth today on eBay? Take the r...