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Staying Safe While Scuba Diving in Cyprus.

Staying safe while scuba diving in Cyprus is extremely important

Safety is easy – and makes your diving more fun!

Staying safe while scuba diving in Cyprus is extremely important, just as it is in the rest of the world.  Ayia Napa is located on the south eastern coast of the island of Cyprus. It is well known for its white sandy beaches, clear waters and pumping nightlife.  Perhaps less well known is the fact that the coastal region between Ayia Napa and Proteras is home to 70% of the islands dive sites. So how can you enjoy all that Ayia Napa has to offer and still stay safe while diving with Scuba Monkey?

Safety is paramount. Entry level courses or programs like the Open Water course or Discover Scuba Diving program have taught you everything you need to know about diving safety, but it is always good to review this knowledge with a few site specific tips and tricks. The most common causes of accidents are very easy to avoid when you follow simple guidelines, allowing you to avoid danger in the water and hopefully prevent accidents altogether.

 

Follow these 10 simple steps for staying safe while scuba diving in Cyprus

 

  1. Always check your gear
Annually  service your scuba gear

Annually service your scuba gear

Unfortunately we humans lack gills and so need equipment to allow us to breathe underwater. You should be comfortable in your gear and know how to use most features by feel alone. If using rental gear, give yourself the time to become oriented to any differences to what you are used to. If you have your own gear ensure that you have taken care of it, servicing it when it needs to be, and never ever make modifications outside of the manufacturers’ original design.

Use a checklist when you are preparing your equipment at the dive center. This will avoid leaving behind a vital piece, forcing you to miss the dive – which can be quite embarrassing. Don’t rely on your instructor or dive guide to have spare of everything. I try to be as prepared as possible when taking a group out – but I can’t carry the whole dive center. If you have particularly large feet for example chances are the spare fins are not going to fit you!

Sunburnt-Shoulders

Scuba gear hurts if you are sun burnt!

Cyprus specific tip: Cyprus is a very hot destination, especially in the summer months. Sun creme is essential and I always remind my guests to re-apply it while relaxing on our surface interval. Make it a ritual. Sun burn is so easy to avoid. Trust me: a BCD is painful when carried on shoulders the same color as the strawberry jam on your breakfast toast.

 

 

 

  1. Plan your dive, dive your plan
Plan, Plan, Plan - Dive, Dive, Dive!!

Plan, Plan, Plan – Dive, Dive, Dive!!

We can’t talk underwater, nor can we read minds…..and hand signals are pretty basic. Making a dive plan and listening to the pre-dive briefing is essential – deviation is not a

good idea.  Always agree on maximum depths, minimum returning air supply, entry/exit procedures, hand signals, emergency protocols and how to navigate the dive site before you enter the water. Stick to your plan as closely as possible. Check your gauges frequently to avoid a low on air situations or exceeding  no-decompression limits.

Cyprus-specific Tip: Online navigation apps do not work well in Cyprus because of military presence due to us having the last split capital in the world. Carry paper maps whenever possible and be ready to navigate emergency personal to your dive site if an emergency does occur.

 

  1. Never hold your breath
Staying safe while scuba diving in Cyprus is extremely important

Never, ever hold your breath while diving

This is the first rule of scuba diving and it should have been imprinted onto your brain by your instructor on your very first training session. After you become certified it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe by breathing continuously and never holding your breath. Diving is exciting stuff however, and perhaps a particular situation may literally be breathtaking.

Cyprus specific tip – Ayia Napa has many exciting underwater features, and if you are lucky enough to see two turtles playing in the sea grass you may unknowingly hold your breath. Don’t. Stay conscious of each inhalation and exhalation, this is the best way to avoid lung over expansion injuries.

 

  1. Only dive when you feel comfortable.

Scuba diving is peer pressure against peer pressure. The rule is that a diver can cancel a dive for any reason, any time – no questions asked. If you feel that a dive maybe outside your comfort zone talk to your instructor/dive guide.  If you are still unsure then feel free to sit this one out. Never let anyone pressure you into the water. It is your dive and no one else’s. Never worry about “losing face”, you will be respected more and not less if you call off a dive because you feel nervous. Consider taking a specialty course or a dive orientation to local sites to get yourself back into your comfort zone, training and experience always leads to peace of mind.

Cyprus specific tip: The Zenobia wreck is unmissable, but can be daunting due to its size. Be prepared for this, the wreck specialty course is perfect to keep those nerves at bay.

 

  1. Practice your ascents

The most common reason for a rapid ascent is failing to release the expanding air from your BCD.  Always be familiar with the location of the inflator and deflator and make adjustments frequently.

Be a S.A.F.E diver = slowly ascend from every dive. Air expands when you go up and your lungs are made out of your own biological material. Lung over expansion injuries are easy to avoid if you ascend at a rate of 18 meters per minute or slower. Dissolved nitrogen in your body is also an issue. Slow ascents allow this normally inert gas to work its way out of your body via your breath safely and within acceptable limits. A dive computer is a marvelous bit of kit for this reason – most have alarms to warn you if your ascent is too fast. Don’t worry if you don’t have one however, the rule of thumb is: stay below your smallest bubble.

Cyprus specific tip – be like the locals and do everything slowly, especially ascending after a dive!

 

  1. Air Supply
Staying safe while scuba diving in Cyprus is extremely important

Always end your dive with at least 50 Bar

Stay away from the caution zone of your air supply. Keep away from the red! You should always end a dive with 50 bar or more. Monitor your SPG frequently and be aware of how much air you need to get to your agreed exit point. Breathe slowly and deeply, this is the most efficient method to make your air supply last. For more tips read “slowly slowly catch the monkey. How to enjoy longer dives

 

 

  1. Keep fit

As relaxing as diving feels, scuba diving is physical exertion for your body. Fitness is important as gear can be heavy, the entry point may go over challenging terrain and weather conditions can change quickly. You need to be prepared for currents, longer surface swims or other demanding elements. A lack of physical stamina can result in

Staying safe while scuba diving in Cyprus is extremely important

A certain level of fitness is also essential because you are your buddy’s support system.

overexerting yourself, which can lead to higher air consumption and panic.  This is when accidents happen. A certain level of fitness is also essential because you are your buddy’s support system.

Health is more than the absence of illness. Regular health checks are a great idea. Tell your doctor that you are a diver, he will monitor you for conditions that conflict with scuba. Always tell your dive operator of any pre-existing conditions that may put you into a higher risk category, even if they are only temporary. The common cold is no more than an inconvenience on the surface, but underwater it can play havoc with our sensitive ears. As always, communication is key.

Cyprus specific Tip: Never dive with a hangover. Ayia Napa is famous for the nightlife, but don’t drink more than a beer or two if you are diving in the morning. Remember; a hangover is felt partly because you are dehydrated…..and you will have a higher risk of decompression sickness if you dive the next day.

 

  1. Know vital skills

Scuba diving requires learning skills that may seem alien to us at first, but they quickly become second nature. Your Open Water course taught you more than 20 different skills. Expect to get rusty if you stay out of the water for some time. If it has been more than 6 months since your last dive consider taking the new re-activate program…..it’s fun fun fun and it will keep you safe safe safe!

Cyprus-specific tip: The Greenbay dive site is perfect for the reactivate program, with its easy walk in entry and protected water, it is as clear as your pool, but has all the salt in the sea! Perfect for practicing buoyancy skills.

 

 

  1. Use the Buddy system

Everything is more fun in life when you have someone to share it with. Diving is not only more fun with a buddy, but safer too. Always respect your buddy and keep them close. No more than an arm’s reach away should be therule. Remember, they are your life line and you are theirs, so it is in both your best interests to stay close to one another. If your dive center pairs you up with a stranger take a little time to get to know them. Go over hand signals that you are used to just in case there are any differences.

scuba-diving-buddy-check

Get into the BUDDY system ritual

Always perform a BUDDY check – the pre-dive safety check. This is the final check to not only confirms that all of your equipment is in full working order, but also allows you to check the positioning of the all-important alternate air source on your buddy’s body. In the extremely unlikely event that you do have problem with your air supply under the water you want to get to your buddy’s alternate as quickly as possible. It helps to know where it is, and how to release it easily to get it into your mouth quickly. If it makes you feel more comfortable, practice securing your buddy’s alternate on the surface. This ensures a fluidity of movement should the need arise during your dive.

Cyprus Specific Tip: Do this in the shade. It is super-hot in the sun and you are in a wetsuit. Do not over heat!

 

  1. Use positive buoyancy

The lead around your waist is heavy! If you jump in without inflating your BCD you will sink – and sink fast!! Your ears need you to go slowly in order to equalize them effectively and you need to maintain buddy contact throughout your dive. Just remember to press your inflator before jumping in!

diver-swimming-on-surface

Surface swims are a lot harder when you have to fight to keep yourself up – inflate your BCD

Positive buoyancy is also vital when you end your dive, for you and your buddy. Surface swims are a lot harder when you have to fight to keep yourself up, and you may be fatigued after a particularly challenging dive through heavy current. Remember to fully inflate your BCD when you hit the surface, and don’t forget to drop your weights if you need to. It is a horrible statistic, but 80% of divers who drown are found to be still wearing their weight belt. If you cannot stay at the surface easily, lose them! All weight systems have a quick release mechanism – and lead is easily replaced.

Cyprus Specific Tip: The Mediterranean has a lot of salt compared to other areas, meaning that you may need one or two kilos more than you are used to. Be prepared for this extra weight.

 

Keeping safe is easy. Being prepared for an emergency is good practice. Diving is fun and always will be, and you can always minimize the risk of something going wrong. You can never be too safe, and preparation is the key!

 

Do you have any added safety advice that you can share with us? Do you and your buddy have any safety rituals that you follow? Share if you care!!

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