Scuba Diving Rules and Regulations (A Simple Guide!)

Scuba Diving Rules and Regulations

Diving is not just a sport. It requires specific training as well as studying and most importantly precision. There are a lot of courses and specialized trainings that divers can take and get a lot of useful knowledge from. When attending these courses, students learn about scuba diving safety rules as well as the importance of a dive buddy.

Scuba Diving Safety Rules for Beginners

Scuba diving safety rules are very important because it will help students to learn principal rules maintaining diving equipment correctly and manage situations that require emergency responses. Here is every important scuba diving safety rule that will be very helpful for beginners: 

1. The first and most important rule in diving is to never hold your breath.

Before you learned SCUBA, it was a natural action to hold your breath underwater. You need to unlearn that and instead practice the opposite. Always bear in mind that you have a couple of oxygen tanks that even feature a safety reserve. It is always vital to breathe slowly, deeply and most importantly, continuously. Your regulator equipment supplies air that helps you breathe through the mouth.

Gentle breathing can also calm you down and make you feel relaxed. Also, uninterrupted breathing can prevent many possible injuries that can happen to your lungs. The expanding air in your lungs can be expelled as it gets equalized. Internal lung pressure is also decreased if your breathing is an interrupted. Constantly exhaling a little amount of air is also very important in an unlikely case that your regulator is not in your mouth. 

2. Atmospheric pressure does not affect you body when you are still on the surface because land is our natural environment.

However, it’s a different thing when you’re diving. It is necessary to equalize the air spaces in your body when you are underwater. As you go deeper, more air pressure can be felt . Your body’s airspaces feel these pressure particularly on the ears, sinuses, and lungs. But if your breathing is uninterrupted, you will be able to equalize your lungs as you exhale.

To equalize the ears and sinuses, you use the Valsalva maneuver. You can perform this by gently closing your nose and exhaling by it. You can do this for a few times while you are descending. Be careful when doing this maneuver because you should not do it too forcefully. And you should stop it before you start feeling any discomfort in your ears. While ascending in a dive site, air can get off by itself and no special manuever is required.

3. Ascending too quickly is a big NO when you are scuba diving.

This applies to whatever depth you are ascending from. If you go up very quickly, partial pressure from gases that have been absorbed by your body cannot equalize to outside pressure. It is also necessary that excess air inside your body escape the lungs and ears on time before these air spaces expand too much.

This is very helpful to avoid decompression sickness. That is why it is necessary to ascend not faster than 18 meters per minute or depending on what your dive computer indicates. Meanwhile, some dive computers suggest that safety stops of three minutes every 5 meters is advised when going for a deep dive.

Different Types of Diving

Different Types of Diving

What is Decompression Dives?

“Every dive is a decompression dive.” This is what people have to say about diving. You compress when you descend and decompress on your way up or ascend. 

A decompression dive means intentionally going beyond the NDLs or the No Decompression Limits.  This is done to achieve a longer bottom time at a given depth. It also denotes extra time and freedom to explore more during the dive as well.

Upon ascending, you have to periodically pause to avoid decompression sickness. These pauses depend on depth of the dive. At 6 meters, you can dive for many hours without needing decompression stops on your way up. However, in depths greater than 40 meters, a diver needs to perform decompression stops before totally ascending to the surface.

What is Nitrox Dive?

Every diver uses air mix when diving in order to breathe underwater. The type of gas that is being consumed can make a difference in terms of bottom time. 

Using as EAN or enriched air nitrox which contains 32% oxygen concentration, and lower nitrogen percentage allows a longer no-decompression limits when diving, shorter surface intervals and a safety buffer for decompression sickness. To do this, some nitrogen in the tank will be replaced by extra oxygen or alternate air source.

This will lessen the nitrogen content which means it won’t dissolve quickly allowing a longer no-decompression limit. This follows the concept of EAD or equivalent air depth. If the diver has an ordinary no-deco limit of 20 minutes, this can be extended to 40 minutes..  

What are Drift Dives?

Drift diving means diving along the current of the waters’ movement. For some divers, this underwater “flying sensation” can be exhilarating and can cover a much bigger area to explore while drifting in the currents. Depending on your dive sites, you can see some serious hunting and feeding of the marine life, as bigger fish including whale sharks, are attracted by the currents. 

Not everyone enjoys drift diving, however, especially if one is new to it and uncomfortable with strong currents. There is a tendency to get separated from the other divers  when ocean currents are strong.

How to Establish Positive Buoyancy Control

How to Establish Positive Buoyancy Control

Among the greatest pleasures that you can experience during deep dives and scuba diving itself is feeling weightless underwater. It may look easy but if you want to ensure safe diving, learning it is essential. Take note that it is actually harder than it looks, but achieving it is very possible.

Keeping your weight in the proper range paired with practice will help you establish positive buoyancy. You can also keep track of your dive tables to be able to regulate your underwater time. This will ensure that a scuba diver does not absorb too much nitrogen that can result to an underwater emergency.

There are actually three types of buoyancy that you should remember. First, the positive buoyancy which refers to divers who are going upwards. Second, neutral buoyancy means that a diver is neither floating nor sinking. Lastly, negative buoyancy that refers to a diver’s body sinking towards the bottom.

Always check if your buoyancy equipment is connected to your low pressure inflator hose. If you are wondering what this is, a Low Pressure Inflator Hose is the device connecting your Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) to your tank. The BCD worn by divers contains a bladder to hold air just like a jacket or a vest. 

When you are about to dive, you raise the hose above your head to release the air from your BCD then you have to exhale slowly. It will release the air from your lungs to make your descent with other divers comfortable. 

Why Dive with a Dive Buddy?

Why Dive with a Dive Buddy

So you’re thinking about going solo. You’re all set now and ready to head off to a dive site. However, here’s why a scuba diver should change mind about this risky activity and get a dive buddy instead. Although going solo sounds like a good adventure, it is still very important that you have a dive buddy with you.

Aside from the fact that you will not go depths underwater by yourself, you are also assured that a buddy system will help you avoid diving fatalities knowing somebody is with you. For example, if you encounter any emergency, diving with a team, a diving instructor or a buddy will help detect the situation right away.

If your air supply happens to run out which is extremely dangerous, signaling for your buddy’s alternate air source or emergency oxygen can actually save you. Your divemate will be able to call for help during situations that require immediate medical attention while supplying you enough air while you both surface. Situations that cannot be dealt alone can be prevented if somebody dives with you. Can you imagine going for a night dive alone? The risks outweigh fun that is why many divers won’t give this a go!

Also, it is always fun to share a dive with family or friends who understand and share the same passion. Futhermore, a dive experience with a buddy system becomes more worth it if it is shared with someone else rather than risk it alone. With the reasons mentioned earlier, this is why safe diving with another person is very important although it is possible to go for a solo dive. Always remember – safe scuba diving means having a dive buddy.

Different Scuba Emergencies while in a Dive

Different Scuba Emergencies while in a Dive

A scuba diver must adhere to diving safety rules and their dive plan to be able to prevent underwater emergencies from happening. Scuba diving safety trainings and lessons are strongly encouraged to ensure safe diving. However, as emergencies cannot be predicted, it is wise to know what these are before hand. Here are some emergencies while on deeper dives:

Barotrauma of descent

Pulmonary barotrauma -Occurs when divers breathing compressed air ascends too rapidly. The symptoms can happen 10 minutes up two hours after surfacing from underwater. This can happen to people with obstructive lung diseases which can lead to a raptured lung or chest cavity causing air embolism.

Decompression Sickness

This is also known as “the bends” that can form air bubbles in the tissue and the blood after nitrogen dissolves come out. This can happen if a safe ascent is not done. This can leave you symptoms including muscle pains and aching joints as well as fatigue. To avoid this, check on your dive computer to certain speed information including the depth of the dive.

Nitrogen Narcosis

To ensure safe scuba diving, you have to get a special training, aside from your basic skills training, to be able to dive deeper than 25 meters. As you know, water pressure increases as the dive go deeper. Aside from that, your body can also receive increased amount of compressed nitrogen. In return, this can slow your movement and weaken your senses. This is because too much nitrogen intake can hav a laxative effect. If this happens, the next possible scenario is experiencing decompression sickness. Drowing can be the worst aftermath that is why safety underwater should always be come first.

Arterial Gas Embolism

When the blood supply to the organs are blocked buy bubbles in your artery disease when arterial gas embolism occurs. Divers can lose consciousness a few minutes after reaching the surface. This can also be likened to a stroke. Perform CPR and other emergency procedures when necessary.

Frequently Ask Questions about Scuba Diving safety rule and regulations

Frequently Ask Questions about Scuba Diving safety rule and regulations

Scuba diving is an adrenaline boosting underwater sport that uses scuba gears in order to breathe underwater. It is enjoyed by people who want to explore the underwater world freely and be a part of the marine world. For some, they do scuba diving to reap the numerous health benefits that it offers.  

If scuba diving is an unknown territory to you, you might have questions regarding the sport. Below are some of the commonly asked questions from beginners to their instructors.

1. What happens if air runs out?

There is less chance that this situation will happen because you will not be allowed to dive with an empty tank. That is why your instructor will thoroughly check your equipment aside from checking overall physical fitness. You will be taught how to monitor your air supply frequently as well as how to deal the situation of when air supply becomes scarce. Aside from that you will also be trained to manage this situation.

2. How long can I stay underwater?

Staying underwater depends on how fast your air supply gets consumed. Beginner diver usually cannot stay underwater for a long time because their air supply runs out faster compared to experienced divers. There are also other factors that can affect your air consumption. These include body features, the condition of the waters, the depth of the dive, your overall physical fitness, how you use your fins, as well as the temperature of the water. Usually, a beginner can stay up to 20 minutes. However, others can stay for as long as an hour underwater. The key point to remember is that the more dives you do, the more you can improve your air consumption.

3. Is there a depth of dive requirement?

A maximum of 12 meters on the 1st two dives and 18meters on the 3rd and 4th dives (12m for 10-12 years old). This is the regulated by the PADI Open Water Diver program

4. Can I still wear my glasses when I dive?

There are different options for people who wear prescription glasses.

  • Contact lenses- You may use the disposables one in case you lose one when diving. If you don’t like wearing contact lens then  prescription mask is the best option for you.
  • Prescription mask – This is a good substitute if you are not comfortable wearing contact lenses. Some diving centers have available prescription masks although it would be difficult to find the one that matches your eyesight requirements. Lastly, itwould be a good investment to order and have your own personal prescription mask .

5. How can I learn all these diving instructions?

There are many courses offered onsite and online for divers. There are also many ways for a student to learn. You can study using dive guide videos, practical demonstrations, theoretical instructions and instructor presentations. E-learning is also a great option especially when you cannot go to the onsite school. As technology advances you can study at home at your own pace before actually going to the dive center for the practical test. You can use your tablets, smartphones and computers during these online sessions to acquire vital skills for diving.

6. Are there any chances of encountering a dangerous marine life?

Diving is a great chance to be able to come in to close contact with marine life. is a great opportunity to observe life in the underwater world. There can be chances of you getting stung by coral plants when you touch or brush on them. Most marine animals will not attack, and their stingers are there to protect them. Do not poke on their habitat. Most importantly, you should remember and follow the golden rule: Look but certainly do not touch!

7. If I don’t have a dive buddy, can I still dive?

Although it is highly recommended that you dive with a buddy, you can still go solo diving. Divers are sociable and welcoming so you can always be a part of a group. Also, you don’t need to worry about being alone because you will always get a chance to meet new buddies or you can have a one on one program with your instructor to be a better diver. 

8. I’m not a good swimmer. Will that be a problem?

You should be able to swim using any strokes for 200 meters. You should also be able to float for 10 minutes using either trading or back swimming. These are the fundamental requirements if you want to take on diving. Furthermore, You should also be able to complete snorkeling skills. so if you want to be comfortable underwater during a dive then it is best to take swimming classes ahead to boost your confidence if you feel you are not good enough in swimming.

9. Do I need to buy my Own scuba gears?

You don’t necessarily need to buy your own scuba gear. This is because most centers have their own that you can rent. But if you can afford to buy your own then you can simply do so.

10. How long does it take for me to complete a diving course and become a better diver?

It takes less than a week to complete a diving course depending which center you are in enrolled. However, if you are asking about when you can become a better diver, well this takes patience, experience and progress. Meanwhile, you will be able to boost your confidence by taking a diving lesson that will eventually lead you to frequent dives. In return, you will be able hit your goal of becoming a better diver through constant practice and experience over a period of time.

What is the most important rule in Scuba Diving?

Important rule of scuba diving

Follow the rules if you want to enjoy a safe, stress free dive. Here are absolute rules for divers to remember and can to help you get certified.

1. Never hold your breath.

You should continuously breathe while underwater. Holding your breath when you change depth can result your lungs to overly expand. You will then experience shortness or difficulty of breathing, pain and even unconsciousness. 

2. Equalize early and often. 

It is also important that you do not go deeper when you are not comfortable about it. Risking to dive deeper without equalizing can burst your eardrums which is in your middle ear. This can result to getting disoriented which can lead to losing your regulator and drown. If equalising is a problem, use can always use a rope to control your descent. You can go feet first and don’t go deeper your maximum depth capacity when it already hurts. 

3. Ascend slowly and make safety stops.

Ascending should be slowly done. A safety stop should also be observed. A stop means that you can halt between 3 to 6 meters in order to let excess nitrogen escape your body. This will also avoid overexpanded lungs and reduce decompression sickness. 

4. Monitor depth, time and pressure continuously.

This is another basic rule in diving. If you forget to do this because of an engaging underwater activity like cray fishing or photography, chances are you will encounter being out of air at depth. You need to give time to check your console and don’t forget to have enough air reserve for you safety stop while on slow ascent.

5. Avoid carrying too much weight.

Remember that you should only carry what you really need during the dive. This is because you are a danger when your buoyancy compensator does not inflate. It can also affect proper buoyancy and balance when you are underwater. When this happens you will feel uncomfortable and lopsided. Proper weighing means you can do safety stop neutrally buoyant at 5 meters with 40 to 70 bars without inflating your buoyancy device. Furthermore, too much weight can be a cause of serious injuries.

6. Dive like a fish. (not like a monkey)

Swimming horizontally at all times is an important role when it comes to scuba diving. That is why you have to dive like a fish that swims horizontally then a monkey whose body is open when wading in water. Vertical swimming means you are over weighted or your buoyancy device is not used properly. Always check your position when diving. Horizontal swimming / diving can help prevent reef destruction and can add to your pleasure underwater. 

What is the golden rule of scuba diving?

All these rules are formulated to prevent accidents and ensure safety when underwater. If you were to remember one of the most important rule or the golden rule of scuba diving, always think of the first rule. BREATHE CONTINOUSY and never hold your breath. 

What should you not do when scuba diving?

What is the most import rule in Scuba Diving

Never hold your breath. Ever. Breathe normally and continuously when underwater. Aside from this scuba diving golden rule, you need to avoid the following:

  1. Don’t dive when you are intoxicated with alcoholic drinks.
  2. Always inform someone or fellow divers when you go diving and what time will you be back.
  3. Diving after a big meal is a no-no. Wait at least two hours for your stomach to settle before diving.
  4. Always know what your comfort level is to aboid any serious injury. Then, don’t go beyond this level when diving especially when the area has extremely cold temperatures.
  5. Always check your equipment before diving. Broken equipment can spell disaster even if you are properly trained. Also, you have to know surface conditions and overhead environments before starting the dive.
  6. Never dive alone. Always have a diving buddy with you.
  7. Lastly, the Golden Rule : Never hold your breath. This is a very basic common sense rule that you should never forget.

What are the Five Steps in a Predive Safety Check?

What are the Five Steps in a Predive Safety Check

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors or PADI, is the largest training agency for scuba diving. They have issued the following guidelines for buddy check procedures or the BWRAF. Find out what these are by continuing reading below:

Step 1: B – BCD 

First item to buddy check before diving is the BCD or Buoyancy Control Device. The buddy will check the inflator and releases. Before wearing your BCD, check the over-inflate valve. The tank strap should be checked and the buddy will check that the tank is secure and will not slip. 

Step 2: W – Weights

Check your buddy’s weights and weight belts. The quick release should be fully closed and will not catch on anything. The belt should be firmly in place and the weights are around the entire body. Secure the end without interfering with the quick release. 

If your buddy is using a BCD with integrated weights, you should know how to release the weights during emergencies.

Step 3: R – Releases 

Make sure that the releases of the BCD is secured. Shoulder straps and cummerbund are flat and tightened properly. Anything that hangs from the BCD should be secured. Make sure the dive lights are functioning. Activate the tank light when diving at night. 

Step 4: A – Air

Tank valves should be fully open and not forced. The pressure gauge should be steady when your buddychecks and takes full breath from the regulator and the alternate air supply . Always have the dump valves fully open when diving and not half open to ensure sufficient air flow. Half open valves cannot deliver enough supply of air when under pressure or there is an increase demand to breath. 

Step 5: F – Final

Do a final overall check to make sure that all your gears are streamlined and your fins and mask are at hand to be able to have a worry free dive.

These rules and regulations were made for good reason – to ensure scuba diving safety. Always observe them. Wear proper and fully functional equipment; check and double check them. Bring a buddy. Make a checklist. Remember your exit point. Safe scuba diving will ensure enjoyment and peace of mind.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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