If you enjoy diving, you may have considered cave diving. If you have seen videos or documentaries on this, you will have seen how interesting and beautiful cave diving can be.
However, cave diving is not something anyone can just do and it does come with a lot of safety warnings. If cave diving is not done correctly it can be extremely dangerous and we do not recommend cave diving to the ordinary person.
To cave dive you will need more than just an advanced level scuba or open water license. It should only be carried out by a professional that has had much training and experience.
In this article, we will be providing you with a list of the equipment you will need to cave dive safely and how cave diving should be approached.
Equipment You Will Need
Here is some of the essential equipment you will need to cave dive safely.
Without this equipment, you should not cave dive at all.
- Mask (and backup mask, should yours break)
- Flat bladed paddle fins
- 7mm full-length wetsuit and hood
- Thigh pockets in your wetsuit are required
- Two different dive computers
- Depth timer/gauge
- Sidemount harness or back mount harness (for students)
- Two 13 liter air cell oxygen cylinders
- Two regulators
- Two safety reels
- Deco bottles
- Primary light
- Two backup lights
- Two safety reels
- Dive Knife
This is not an extensive list and you should always double-check you have everything you need before diving. As you can see there are many things you require at a minimum to ensure that you are cave diving as safely as possible.
Always ensure all of your equipment is in perfect working condition and is not damaged in any way before you begin your dive. This is your first step to cave diving safely.
Precautions You Should Take
Plenty Of Practice
Before you decide to cave dive, you should ensure to carry out all of the necessary drills and training. If you are not feeling fully confident in the water, your risk of panicking mid-dive is significantly higher.
Some cave divers will experience something called cave diving stress. When you are in a cave, you cannot come to the surface of the water quickly like you can with regular diving.
Often there are no gaps between the surface of the water and the cave ceiling to do so. Given this, you need to remain as relaxed and confident as possible to prevent any panic.
When you carry out your practice drills you want to ensure that you are comfortable in a whole range of situations.
You will need to know exactly what to do if your oxygen runs out, or if there is little to no visibility. These are all things that could potentially happen. Knowing what to do and how to cope in these situations is essential.
It is important to remember that you only have a finite oxygen supply when you are diving. The more you panic, the more of this oxygen supply you will use up. Given this, it is essential to remain as calm as possible. Managing this supply is essential to cave diving safely.
Never Dive Alone
Another thing to consider is to not cave dive alone. If you are accompanied by another diver or a group of divers, you will be in a lot safer position, especially if something were to go wrong.
As you can imagine, if you are trapped in a cave with no way of contacting others and you are injured, that is a big problem. Even the most advanced cave divers should avoid venturing out alone, just to be on the safer side.
When you are cave diving, you must track your route using a safety line. A bit like with Hansel and Gretel, you want to ensure that you can always find your exit. By using a safety reel your chances of becoming lost are a lot lower, even if there is little to no visibility.
If something should happen to your flashlights, a safety line clearly showing you the way to safety is essential. We would recommend carrying at least two safety lines that you can attach to each other should one run out, or if one gets lost.
If visibility is low or something unexpected happens, you may lose your safety line. If this happens you will need to remain calm and try to find the line as quickly as possible. Always ensure you have trained adequately to feel calm should a situation as this occur.
The Use Of Flashlights
Ensuring that you have multiple flashlights that are in working order is a necessity.
While you may think that a primary flashlight and a backup flashlight is sufficient, we would recommend carrying two backup flashlights. This will give you more peace of mind that your visibility will not be compromised.
Diving in no light is disorientating and dangerous, so ensuring you and your group has enough light is essential. However, you should always feel suitably trained to dive in no light, should this situation occur.
To summarise, cave diving will always be a risk. Even the most trained diver can run into unexpected dangers. The most important thing to remember is to only dive with the correct and suitable equipment.
Always remember to be properly trained and never dive alone. Check all your equipment is in working order before setting off and that you have everything you could need, such as backups and safety lines.
One of the most essential things to do is remain calm. The calmer you are, the less oxygen you will use up, and the more rationally you will think.
Always remember that cave diving will always come with its risks. It is never completely safe to do and even the most experienced person needs to exercise much caution.
If you follow all of the steps we have mentioned above and practice many safety drills, these will help you to cave dive more safely.