Scuba or SCUBA diving is named after the gear used, which is a self-contained upper breathing apparatus. Scuba diving allows divers to stay underwater for extended periods of time and reach deeper depths of water than they could without the apparatus. Scuba divers can see an array of tropical fish, sea creatures and coral reefs. Scuba diving can be done as a hobby, as in cave diving or open water diving, as well as for industrial and commercial purposes and rescue diving.
What to Know Before You Start
Be sure you are in good health before going scuba diving. Although it is safe for most people, it can be dangerous for some. Certain medical conditions, including head injuries, recent surgery, spinal injuries or blood disorders, can prohibit you from being able to dive because of the increased pressure underwater. Minor illnesses such as colds and the flu can also impact your dive because the conditions underwater take getting used to and require some focus, so it may be difficult if you are already under the weather. People of all ages can scuba dive, including children as young as 10.
Where to Go
You should always train with a certified scuba diving school, such as a PADI certified school. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is the biggest and best known scuba diver group in the world and its certifications are widely recognized. You can be sure that if you earn your certification at a PADI school and travel the world to scuba dive, your certification will be recognized everywhere you go. Beware of schools that offer shortcut methods. A reputable diving school must provide adequate training for diving, instrument operation and safety.
The most basic certification that most people obtain is the open water diving certification, which is typically taught in a three-to-five-day course. With this certification, you will be able to dive up to 60 feet into the water while accompanied by a scuba instructor. You can also go on to obtain advanced certifications. During the course, you will be taught basic diving techniques, the effects of diving on your body, safety drills and use of equipment. Confined water training, generally taught in swimming pools, is another type of course used for certifications.
What You Need
The bare essentials of scuba diving include a scuba mask, scuba booties to protect the feet, swim fins, snorkels and scuba weights or belts to help you sink. You may also need a wetsuit and hood, depending on the conditions and temperature of the water. Other equipment used during diving includes a scuba tank that holds your air, regulator to help you breathe through the cylinder of the tank, fins, computers and gauges to help determine pressure and depth and an alternate air source, or "octopus."
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