Updated: Jun 12, 2022
We all love to dive, and it is difficult to turn down an opportunity to get under water. It is even more difficult to abort a dive while already in the water. However, safety must always come first. There always will be the opportunity to dive another day.
I do a fair amount of solo diving, so for me, the decision to abort a dive is usually a personal one and is always influenced by overriding safety issues. However, not every diver has the luxury of making decisions whether to abort a dive or not in isolation without affecting his or her dive buddies. Sometimes peer pressure and enthusiasm stop us from using common sense and lead us to making decisions that can escalate into serious diving-related incidents or, even worse, into accidents with some dire consequences.
We should consider several factors that could help in deciding whether to call the dive off or not. I call them the rule of four Es and over my life of diving they served me really well.
If the conditions in which you were supposed to dive look beyond your comfort level, call the dive off. This could be issues such as high winds, strong currents, temperature, visibility, or even aquatic life.
2. Essential fitness
Fitness of body as well as mind are absolutely essential for safe diving. Diving can often increase demands on your physical and mental resilience. If you don’t feel up to the dive or something inside is telling you don’t dive, call the dive off. Trust your intuition.
Do not dive unless you have all the essential equipment you need for the dive, in good working condition, and that you have the knowledge on how to use it. Address any concerns before entering the water and if you can’t get satisfactory resolution to your concerns, call the dive off.
Sometimes it is wise to abort a dive due to logistical and time constraints. If you don’t have enough time to prepare and do a pre-dive buddy check to your satisfaction before diving, or if you could be forced to return to high altitude sooner than expected, call the dive off.
The decision to dive or not must be a part of every diver’s pre-dive checklist, whether you dive in a group or solo. If you don’t feel confident about the dive, call the dive off. It is much better to make this call rather than to enter diving accidents statistics.