Wednesday 27 November 2013

The Danger of the Dive Computer

These days it is rare to see a scuba diver who doesn't have a dive computer on their wrist but do they all know what the computer is telling them and how they should accordingly react?

When I first learned to dive, most dives were planned and executed using pre-determined tables produced and published by the relevant Diver Training Agency and as recent as five years ago, a common phrase you would hear in the Diving resorts was the Instructor's "Don't Dive Deeper than me and you will be ok!"

Although it is much safer for every diver to have a computer on their wrist for independent depth, time and decompression information, I do think that a lot of the explanation behind the information the computer is giving you has been lost in the attempt to simplify the training.

Divers are taught to read the information the computer gives without any real understanding.

Equally, now that diving with computers is commonplace, many diver training centres will give the student a dive computer to use, point out the basic information the diver needs to monitor the dive and after the course, take back said computer and wave cheerio!

Now diver goes to the local dive show and buys themselves a brand new, state of the art diving computer with all the bells and whistles needed, not only for decompression information relevant to their training and experience, but that they can "grow into" with in-built compasses, dive planners, trimix and CCR capabilities, GPS and satellite television.

The manual for the dive computer (and all its added extras) is so thick it looks a bit too daunting to actually read, so it goes in a drawer. There is no need to worry though because the diver has used a dive computer before.

picture from
On a Diving holiday later in the year, the diver emerges from the depths with a continuously beeping computer and a cheery " well, its 5 past 5 again!!"

Pardon me? What do you mean?

Having a quick look at the dive computer tells the more experienced and (hopefully) more
knowledgeable diver that it isn't 5.05...more like SOS.

Dive stops, DECOMPRESSION STOPS, have been missed.

"Oh, don't worry. It always says that".

This is just one example of many stories I could tell with regards to Dive Computers. It seems to be commonplace to have a computer but not know how they work or what they say.

Or even worse, to dis-regard the information being given. I have recently seen dive computers sitting out the decompression stops tied onto a line at 6m while the diver has surfaced, enjoying a post dive coffee.

The Dive computer is a life saving piece of equipment. It gives important information that will assist the diver to complete their dives in the safest possible way.

Divers who spend hundreds of euros or pounds on a dive computer and then don't know or do not care what information they give, to my mind, have too much money and not enough common sense. These divers are dangerous and are not the kind of buddies I want to dive with.

When in doubt, read the manual and if you are still unsure, a good dive centre or dive store that have trained you and/or sold you equipment, will never turn you away if you have questions regarding scuba diving.

All our students are told that they can come back to us at any time with any questions about anything they like... and that is a lifetime guarantee :)

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