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The Freediver's Survival Guide: How to Stay Safe Underwater

Freediver's Survival Guider

Freediving offers a unique underwater experience, allowing you to explore the ocean without relying on oxygen tanks. However, with freedom comes responsibility. Freedivers must prepare carefully, train rigorously, and follow strict safety protocols to ensure their dives are successful and safe. 

From proper gear selection to monitoring your breath-hold, there are many factors to consider when diving into the deep blue. This article will discuss the importance of following safety protocols and tips on staying safe while enjoying the thrill of freediving. This information guide is invaluable to help you dive with confidence and peace of mind.

What safety protocols should freedivers follow?

Safety is paramount when freediving. Whether you're working on performance or taking the role of safety diver, you must be aware of your surroundings, communicate well, and know what to do in an emergency. Below we explain some of the key safety considerations for freediving. 

Proper freediving training

Formal training is critical as it helps equip divers with the necessary skills and knowledge to dive safely. Since freediving involves diving deep into the ocean while holding one's breath, it can be physically and mentally demanding. Without proper training, divers may put themselves at risk of accidents, such as shallow water blackouts or decompression sickness. These risks are heightened as they may not recognise the early signs of these conditions or know how to respond appropriately. 

Additionally, adequate training teaches divers how to use their equipment, make safe diving plans, and dive within their limits. Ultimately, proper training ensures divers have a safe and pleasant diving experience. 

Always remember to equalise 

Equalisation in freediving refers to balancing the pressure inside the ears and sinuses with the surrounding water pressure. By equalising, divers can counteract the pressure change, allowing them to safely descend deeper into the ocean without experiencing discomfort or pain.

The equalisation is important because, as a diver goes deeper, the water pressure increases. If the pressure inside the ear and sinuses is not equal to the external pressure, it can cause damage to these areas. Divers use techniques such as pinching the nose and blowing gently or using the Valsalva manoeuvre, which involves closing the throat and blowing air into the ears. 

Doing this avoids barotrauma, which damages the sinuses and ears caused by the pressure change during descent. Divers should never force an equalisation and stop the dive immediately if they've experienced a failed equalisation. 

Dive planning

Planning a dive helps divers anticipate the conditions and requirements, such as the depth, time, currents, and necessary equipment. A plan ensures the dive stays within a safe and comfortable range for the diver and maximises the time spent underwater. Divers and their partners should create a detailed plan together, including knowing what each other is doing during the dive and having a procedure for emergencies.

A solid dive plan is essential for a successful experience and reduces the risk of unexpected challenges or obstacles. 

Do not mix freediving with scuba diving

Mixing scuba diving and freediving is not recommended as they require different techniques, equipment, and hazard considerations. Scuba diving relies on a constant supply of air from a tank, while freediving requires divers to hold their breath for extended periods. This difference in breathing systems and the physiological demands of each activity can put a diver at risk.

Freedivers who use scuba gear can experience decompression sickness due to the high pressure of the air in the tank. Additionally, scuba divers who attempt to freedive can risk hypoxia or shallow water blackout. To stay safe and minimise the risk of accidents, doing freediving and scuba diving sessions on separate days is important, giving your body plenty of time to recover in between. 

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is critical for freedivers as even mild dehydration may impair performance and increase the risk of symptoms such as cramps, fatigue, and dizziness. The physical demands of diving might lead to fluid loss, so it's essential to replenish the body by drinking plenty of water before and after dives. Proper hydration also helps regulate body temperature and support organ function, which are crucial for a safe, freediving experience.

Use of equipment

Freedivers should use appropriate equipment, including fins, wetsuits, weights, and masks. The type of equipment you buy might vary depending on the type of freediving you're doing, how experienced you are, and your physical condition. Agulhasocean provides divers with performance-enhancing gear that doesn't impact the planet. They are committed to sustainability in all they do. That's why they offer safe, high-quality tools without compromises. Wherever you source your equipment, you should ensure it is in good working condition and fits comfortably before each dive.

Always dive with a trained diver

If you're considering freediving, you must always dive with someone at a similar or higher experience level to yourself. Having a safety diver, you can rely on during your dive and in case of emergencies is crucial. You should never dive at the same time as each other or assume the role of safety diver after you have resurfaced from a dive. 

Keep a reasonable time between sessions

During freediving, you should give yourself plenty of time to rest. A general guideline to follow is to rest for twice the duration of your previous dive. If you're doing a deep dive, you should allow for a minimum of five minutes between dives so the gases in the body can return to normal. 

Understanding your limits is essential to having an enjoyable session. Ensure you're regularly checking in with yourself to gauge when it's time to call it a day. Finally, you should always leave at least 24 hours between freediving sessions and rest well when you're finished for the day.

Medical check-ups

Freedivers should have a medical check-up before diving and consult with their doctor in case they have any medical conditions that could affect their diving ability. The sport takes a lot of mental and physical endurance, which is why it's necessary to have good cardiovascular and respiratory health.

Continuous monitoring

While one of the main advantages of freediving is that this sport allows you to experience a feeling of intense relaxation and self-confidence, freedivers should continuously observe their bodies, including their breathing and heart rate. You should monitor signs that may indicate stress or fatigue. With adequate training and more experience, freedivers can better identify these signs and recognise when it's time to stop.

Closing thoughts

The underwater world is full of mysteries and beauty that only a few have the privilege to explore. However, careful preparation, training, and adherence to safety protocols are crucial to minimising the risk of accidents or injuries. 

With proper training and safety measures in place, freediving provides a unique and unforgettable experience that is both humbling and empowering. These guidelines allow you to break free from the boundaries of the surface and immerse yourself in the liberating world of freediving.

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