Freediving can be a fun and unique way of experiencing the water. Scuba diving is fun, but nothing quite beats the liberating feeling of freediving. However, freediving can also be extremely dangerous. During a 5 year period (from 2006-2011) over 400 freediving accidents were reported, 300 of them resulted in someone dying. This is not meant to scare anyone, it is simple meant to be a warning, if you go freediving, make sure to take the proper safety precautions. So, here are some safety tips you should make use of next time you go freediving in shallow water.
Never dive alone
This is the probably the most important tip to remember. You should never go freediving alone; always bring a partner who is at roughly the same skill level. When diving, you should always try and keep an eye on your partner and make sure they don’t stray too far away from you. Also, before you actually dive, inform your dive partner of what you plan to do; under no circumstances should you go off on your own.
Remember that freediving and scuba diving don’t mix
After scuba diving, the nitrogen in your bloodstream will begin to form bubbles as the pressure changes. This can lead to the onset of decompression sickness. Now, the symptoms of decompression sickness can start to manifest relatively quickly after a scuba dive. The reason you do not want to free dive is because there is a risk that repeated dives under water will drastically increase the chances of developing decompression sickness. You should always spend a lengthy amount of time on the surface after a dive. Although there is no consensus as to how long you have to spend on the surface, it is best to be safe and spend at least half a day on the surface before attempting another dive.
Know the conditions of the water
This is another important safety tip to keep in mind. Before you dive into the water, you should have a good idea of what the water is like. Try to get accurate information about the strength of the current, how good the visibility is, what the temperature of the water is, etc. These can affect what sort of equipment you need to bring (for example, if the water is murky, you will need to bring a dive light) and how difficult the dive is (for example, if the current is high, the dive is going to be more strenuous than usual because more effort will be required to stay close to the dive line).
Only dive when you are completely sober and well rested
Your survival when freediving, even in shallow waters, relies on your ability to hold your breath and your ability to make good decisions (when should you equalize, when you should you drop your weights, etc.). Anything that impairs these abilities will make your dive more dangerous. So, never free dive if you are under the effects of alcohol or drugs; likewise, never free dive if you are tired or feeling sluggish.
Make sure you are properly hydrated
Before going freediving, make sure you drink a lot of water and make sure you stay properly hydrated. Proper hydration helps you maintain alertness and performance while under water. You lose a lot of water when you dive, and it is easy to become dehydrated while freediving; so make sure you are adequately hydrated before jumping into the water.
Freediving is a fun and exhilarating hobby, but like most exhilarating hobbies, it can be dangerous. You have to be as safe as possible when freediving, or otherwise it can end in tragedy. But, if you remember these tips and remember your training, your freediving sessions will turn out fine.