PADI STANDARD SAFE DIVING PRACTICES
STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING
This is a statement in which you are informed of the established safe diving practices for skin and scuba diving. These practices have been compiled for your review and acknowledgement and are intended to increase your comfort and safety in diving. Your signature on this statement is required as proof that you are aware of these safe diving practices. Read and discuss the statement prior to signing it. If you are a minor, this form must also be signed by a parent or guardian.
I, __________________________________________________, understand that as a diver I should: (Print Name)
1. Maintain good mental and physical fitness for diving. Avoid being under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs when diving. Keep proficient in diving skills, striving to increase them through continuing education and reviewing them in controlled conditions after a period of diving inactivity.
2. Be familiar with my dive sites. If not, obtain a formal diving orientation from a knowledgeable, local source. If diving conditions are worse than those in which I am experienced, postpone diving or select an alternate site with better conditions. Engage only in diving activities consistent with my training and experience. Do not engage in cave diving unless specifically trained to do so.
3. Use complete, well-maintained, reliable equipment with which I am familiar; and inspect it for correct fit and function prior to each dive. Deny use of my equipment to uncertified divers. Always have a buoyancy control device and submersible pressure gauge when scuba diving. Recognize the desirability of an alternate air source and a low-pressure buoyancy control inflation system.
4. Listen carefully to dive briefings and directions and respect the advice of those supervising my diving activities.
5. Adhere to the buddy system throughout every dive. Plan dives including communications, procedures for reuniting in case of separation, and emergency procedures with my buddy.
6. Be proficient in dive-table usage. Make all dives no-decompression dives and allow a margin of safety. Have a means to monitor depth and time under water. Limit maximum depth to my level of training and experience. Ascend at a rate of not more than 60 feet/18 metres per minute (30 feet/9 metres per minute is recommended).
7. Maintain proper buoyancy. Adjust weighting at the surface for neutral buoyancy with no air in my buoyancy control device. Maintain neutral buoyancy while under water. Be buoyant for surface swimming and resting. Have weights clear for easy removal, and establish buoyancy when in distress while diving.
8. Breathe properly for diving. Never breath hold or skip breathe when breathing compressed air, and avoid excessive hyperventilation when breath-hold diving. Avoid overexertion while in and under water and dive within my limitations.
9. Use a boat, float, or other surface support station whenever feasible.
10. Know and obey local diving laws and regulations, including fish-and-game and dive-flag laws.
is an alphabetical guide to the safe practices of sports diving as
recommended by the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) the Governing Body
of the sport of sub-aqua diving in the UK. The ideas expressed within
reflect the current thinking of the National Diving Committee and the
advice on which it is acting.
is an adventure sport and like all adventure sports its participants
require differing levels of enjoyment and challenge. At one extreme we
have the equivalent of the Himalayan mountaineer who, in peak
condition accepts the challenge of new routes and exploration. At the
other extreme we have the equivalent of the weekend summer climber who
potters around on popular well-climbed rock faces.
is safe diving practice for the former may well be very perilous for
the latter and so the contents of this booklet are not a set of rigid
rules but recommendations for safe diving practices. These
recommendations can be amended depending upon the particular type of
diving being planned and the experience and capabilities of the two
divers carrying out the dive.
appropriate the advice in this booklet is also applicable to snorkel
Diver's Code of Conduct is appended to the end of this booklet. It
contains sensible advice on the conduct of all dives, and is seen as
complementary to the guidance given here.
and Incidents Advisor
National Diving Committee
that your access to the water is safe and that you can successfully
regain contact with your boat/beach/shore. Always ensure, when diving
from the land, that it is possible to climb out at the planned exit
point at varying states of the tide.
member involved in a diving accident or incident should notify BSAC
HQ. An incident report form will then be sent, which should be
completed and returned as soon as possible. Reports are treated as
strictly confidential and are used to prepare an analysis of safety
performance each year. If there is any possibility of an third party
insurance claim arising out of the circumstances it is particularly
important that a form is completed without delay.
ensure you have an adequate reserve of air (at least 25% is strongly
recommended) at the termination of a dive. The amount of air deemed to
be an adequate "reserve" will obviously depend on a number
of factors including the size and working pressure of your main
cylinder together with the depth and type of the dive a standard
figure is not appropriate. The reserve should be sufficient for a
normal ascent, plus any decompression stops, and to allow adequate
amounts for surface swimming. Remember that rates of air consumption
can vary enormously with the effects of cold, fitness, experience and
depth and you should monitor your own and your buddy"s air supply
Air Source (AAS)
BSAC strongly recommends that all divers carry an alternative air
source (AAS) in the event that they may need to share air underwater.
AAS include an "Octopus Rig" (a second 2nd stage fitted to
the same 1st stage of the regulator, which includes the type fitted to
a direct feed). In this case divers should be aware that a first stage
failure on their regulator will affect both second stages and render
more strongly recommended alternative, however, is a totally
independent air supply such as a "Pony cylinder" (a small
2-3 litre auxiliary cylinder attached to the main cylinder with its
own regulator assembly) or separate regulators attached to each
cylinder of a matched pair. If a manifold is fitted to the pair of
cylinders, making them into a "twin-set", it should allow
the diver the ability to isolate each cylinder/regulator assembly
should a failure occur. Auxiliary cylinders having a capacity of less
than 3 litres and ABLJ/BC mouthpieces are not considered adequate AAS.
at altitude, or travelling to altitude (including flying), either
before or after diving, involves the diver being exposed to a reduced
atmospheric pressure. This can both affect the decompression
procedures required and increase the diver"s susceptibility to
decompression illness. The BSAC 88 Decompression Tables, Levels 1-4,
have been specifically designed to allow the various factors involved
to be taken into account in a simple manner. They should be used for
all dives at altitude and also for determining whether a particular
dive/journey sequence involving an excursion to altitude is
permissible. (See BSAC 88 Decompression Tables)
a safe rate of ascent is vitally important in preventing possible
decompression illness and the risk of gas embolism. The BSAC 88
Decompression Tables have been calculated on a maximum ascent rate of
15 metres per minute up to 6 metres depth and 6 metres per minute from
6 metres to the surface and this must be adhered to when using the
tables. Some dive computers incorporate slower ascent rates of 10
metres per minute but all divers are recommended to follow the
practice of ascending at 6 metres per minute from 6 metres to the
multiple ascents should be avoided as they may result in decompression
illness. Particular care should be taken when carrying out the various
ascent training drills, for which specific advice is available.
dive profiles which involve repeatedly ascending and re-descending
over an uneven bottom should be avoided, but the practice of returning
to the surface from maximum depth in stages is encouraged.
National Diving Committee strongly recommends the use of an
alternative air source (see Alternative Air Source) as the prime
method of assisted assent, and that all divers should carry such
equipment. The less preferable alternative of sharing from one demand
valve remains a useful training drill since it may be necessary to
share with someone who has only the one.
authorised dive by a BSAC Branch is one carried out with the prior
knowledge and approval of the Branch Diving Officer. A properly
qualified and appointed dive marshall shall be present and shall be in
charge of all diving activities for the duration of the
dive/expedition. All Branch dives should be carried out in accordance
with current BSAC rules and recommendations for safe diving.
(Artificial Ventilation) and CC (Cardiac Compression)
demonstrating or practicing AV in the water, a proper seal (usually
nose) should be made. A simulated seal is not sufficient to give the
sense of realism required, and does not guarantee a successful
acquisition of technique. The use of a manikin is strongly recommended
when practicing AV on land.
Compressions (CC) should never be practiced on a conscious breathing
subject, a manikin should always be used.
following rates for AV & CC are recommended:-
On land or static in deep water approx. 10 breaths/1 min.
towing 2 breaths/15 sec.
100 compressions/1 min.
AV and CC Solo rescuer: 2 breaths/15 compressions. Two rescuers: 1
breath every 5 compressions.
your boats operate at slow speed in any area where divers are below.
Those in the boat should keep close watch for divers surfacing
dropping divers into the water, or retrieving them, ensure the engine
is in neutral, and that they are well clear of the propeller before
you engage gear. All boats should be marked for easy identification
and should be properly equipped before taking them to sea.
used on BSAC events must have appropriate Third Party insurance cover.
using boats take note of the recommendations for boat users laid down
in the Diver's Code of Conduct.
88 Decompression Tables
NDC considers the BSAC 88 Tables to be the safest sports diving tables
available in the world and recommends their use. The BSAC 88 Tables,
Levels 1-4, have been specifically designed for sports diving on air
and incorporate new thinking on the avoidance of decompression
Tables promote safer diving practices, particularly by encouraging
slow, controlled ascent procedures and allow divers for the first time
to make allowance for atmospheric pressure changes due to weather or
changes in altitude. Due to the wide variations in human physiology
and the large number of factors that can affect your susceptibility to
decompression illness, no table can guarantee to protect you against
all risk. Whenever diving the following advice should be taken into
The maximum recommended depth for recreational diving is 50m.
Specific depth restrictions, appropriate to skill level and
experience, are applicable to some BSAC diving grades (see Depth).
When carrying out two or more dives in one day, perform the deepest
It is recommended that no more than 3 dives be performed in any
24 hours. Any dive series involving consecutive days diving to 30m+
should be limited to four days, after which a 24 hour break should be
Always be in control of your buoyancy, especially during the
ascent, and observe the recommended ascent speeds. (15m / min to 6m
and 1 min from 6m to the surface).
It is permissible to conduct slower descents and ascents,
whilst remaining within the dive profile envelope, but multiple
"saw tooth" ascents and descents should be avoided.
Be aware that smoking, alcohol consumption, tiredness, age,
increased body fat and any medical condition affecting the respiratory
or circulatory systems may increase your risk of decompression
illness. Susceptibility can also be increased with excessive physical
exertion during or immediately after a dive.
When diving with Nitrox use the BSAC Nitrox Tables to determine
the safe limits for your planned dive. (See Depth and Nitrox)
is important for safe diving that divers are formed into appropriate
buddy pairs. Buddy diving means a pair of divers operating as a unit,
each taking some responsibility for the safety of the other. On every
dive one diver, usually the senior in grade or experience, should be
elected as the dive leader. Divers with a minimum grade of Club/Ocean
Diver may dive together at the discretion of the Branch Diving
Officer. Divers below the grade of Club/Ocean Diver (i.e. divers under
training) must be led by an instructor.
snorkelling, dive alternately so that the snorkeller underwater is
covered by their buddy at the surface.
conditions of poor visibility, you may wish to use a buddy line to
retain contact with your buddy. A line two to three metres long is
ideal, with a shackle or small karabiner spliced to each end. This
allows it to be looped over wrists, if so desired, or it can be
clipped to a suitable piece of equipment e.g. BCD, to leave both hands
need to be able to adjust their buoyancy underwater to compensate for
buoyancy losses due to pressure changes on descent, and then to
jettison this buoyancy as they ascend. This may be provided by
inflation of a drysuit or by means of some buoyancy compensating
device. Total reliance on a drysuit is not sensible and a suitable
buoyancy compensator should be worn on every open water dive.
are three main types of buoyancy compensator currently on the market,
the Adjustable Diving Vest (ADV),the Stabiliser Jacket (STAB) and the
"wings" style of BCD.
are made in various sizes and care should be taken to choose the
correct size and amount of buoyancy offered. All buoyancy compensators
must have a direct feed mechanism for routine buoyancy adjustment.
divers other requirements for a buoyancy system are to stay afloat at
the surface or to give emergency buoyancy whilst rescuing or being
rescued. An inflated drysuit is not a good solution in these surface
situations and drysuited divers must wear a buoyancy compensator to
maintain and control buoyancy safely.
Buoyancy Compensators can be fitted with a small air cylinder for
emergency inflation. At the present time there is no legal requirement
for BC emergency cylinders to be tested. Since the filler of the
cylinder is usually the owner, it is his / her responsibility to
ensure that the cylinder is in good condition. It is strongly
recommended that BC cylinders are visually inspected every year.
overcharge a cylinder and avoid storing one for any length of time
fully charged. Ensure that the working pressure of the BC cylinder is
compatible with the working pressure of the aqualung cylinder. Avoid
completely emptying such cylinders since, if the valve is allowed to
remain open, any water in the buoyancy jacket may be drawn into the
is strongly recommended that BC cylinders should not be filled with
enriched air (Nitrox) mixtures.
fall into two categories, buoyant ascents in an emergency, and
controlled buoyant ascents in a non-urgent situation. In the former it
is vital to remember the risk of embolism and positive breathing out
is absolutely essential. In the latter case, the training programme
teaches the correct techniques to ensure a safe ascent rate in a
controlled manner. It is most important that an ascent rate of 6
metres per minute is achieved from 6 metres to the surface and this
requires that the diver is always capable of being neutrally buoyant
at 6 metres with a near empty cylinder.
safety reasons only properly trained and competent people should
operate compressors. If you use a portable petrol or diesel engine
take care not to have the air intake in a place where fumes may be
ingested with the air, and never use the compressor in a site where it
is an annoyance to other people. It is essential that air of a high
standard of purity is delivered. BSAC Regional Coaches have access to
air purity testing kits and should be contacted to carry out such
production of compressed air for use in oxygen enriched mixtures
requires specialised oil-free equipment and training. Only properly
trained operators using appropriate equipment should undertake this.
computers offer accurate and automatic recording of depth and time and
continuously calculate the diver's decompression requirements
according to the depth and duration of the dive. Computers are also
available with advanced features such as the ability to calculate
decompression requirements for a variety of Nitrox mixes, and also to
monitor available air and air consumption rates. The use of a dive
computer is no substitute for proper dive planning, including proper
attention to air requirements and dive time.
is recommended that divers choose a computer which is at least as
conservative as the BSAC 88 Decompression Tables on a rectangular dive
profile. Individual susceptibility to decompression illness varies and
can be affected by a number of factors, for which no computer or
decompression table is able to allow. Divers should be aware of this
and avoid pushing computers beyond their limits. The advice on safer
diving attached to use of the BSAC 88 Tables applies equally to
computer users and should be followed. (See BSAC 88 Decompression
Cylinders to the obsolete specifications HOS, HOT (steel), and HOAL 1,
2, 3 and 4, (aluminium) are still legal for use by divers, although no
longer manufactured. The current specifications approved by the Health
and Safety Executive are BS5045 Part 1 (steel) and BS5045 Part 3 (aluminium).
Diving cylinders must be tested according to BS5430 Part 1 (steel) and
BS5430 Part 3 (aluminium). These specifications call for diving
cylinders to be visually inspected every TWO years and subjected to a
hydraulic test every FOUR years.
should ensure that test stations carry out their tests in accordance
with BS5430 and should obtain a test certificate which states this.
Test stations approved by the Inspectorate for Diving Equipment
Servicing and Testing (IDEST) are strongly recommended. The cylinder
should be stamped by the test station after every inspection / test.
for use with Nitrox should be dedicated to this use, marked with a
100mm green band around the cylinder and clearly labelled to show the
gas mixture contained (oxygen percentage) and its Maximum Operating
should be regularly (usually annually) cleaned to oxygen service
standard. Oxygen service standard is essential where the oxygen
content is 40% or greater and strongly recommended for mixtures where
the oxygen content is greater than 21%. Nitrox cylinders should have a
maximum working pressure of 232 bar.
contents should always be analysed at the time of filling and again
immediately before the dive. (See Nitrox and Compressors)
dives involve some decompression, which normally takes place during
the ascent and subsequent period on the surface. It follows that it is
as important to correctly perform these stages as it is to monitor the
dive itself. Decompression computers can assist in this if they are
correctly used and are programmed to an appropriate algorithm. This
means for a simple rectangular profile they should give dive times as
conservative as the BSAC 88 Decompression Tables.
is important to realise that both tables and computers are unable to
make allowance for factors such as age, fitness, exertion, obesity and
injuries, which may all significantly affect susceptibility to
decompression illness (DCI). Divers should therefore be aware of these
factors and avoid diving beyond their limits. Take particular care
when planning repeat dives. Where two or more dives are being made the
same day it is good practice to carry out the deepest dive first. It
is also good practice to achieve maximum depth as early in the dive as
possible and to avoid re-descending once any ascent has commenced.
illness symptoms vary between those so sudden, that immediate air
evacuation to a chamber is vital, to those which may not become
apparent for some hours. Some of these less dramatic symptoms, such as
tingling and numbness, may well be delayed but can be more serious and
produce greater disability than the excruciating pain often associated
with DCI in a joint. Tingling and numbness are included in this
DCI symptoms, occurring at sea, require rapid transfer of the subject
to a recompression chamber, laid flat on their back and if possible,
the administration of 100% oxygen and fluids. Being bounced, rapidly,
in a small boat is almost certainly going to worsen the symptoms
rather than help the situation.
assistance with decompression illness, advice in the UK can be
obtained from the National Decompression Illness Helpline.
at sea, contact should be made via the Coastguard on VHF
Channel 16. When on shore, contact can be made via the
following 24-hour telephone numbers:
calling in England, Northern Ireland or Wales call 0831 151 523 to be
connected with the relevant department of the Royal Navy
calling in Scotland call 01224 681 818 to be connected with the
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
other emergency assistance, when ashore in the UK, use 999
or 112, as usual.
diving outside of the UK, ensure that you know the local
emergency contact procedures.
BSAC 88 Decompression Tables / Oxygen)
NDC considers the BSAC 88 Decompression Tables to be the safest sports
diving tables available in the world and recommends their use. In
areas of the world where other tables are being used, members should
check the correct application of these tables and if in doubt use the
BSAC 88 tables. Dives requiring decompression stops should be well
planned beforehand and executed according to recommended techniques.
Avoid deciding upon decompression stops once in the water.
accurate means of measuring depth and time is essential, as is an
appropriate means of controlling the depth of the stops, such as a
shotline. Any diver who has missed planned decompression stops could
be suffering from decompression illness and should be returned to the
shore as quickly as possible. No attempt should be made to carry out
any form of re-entry decompression as this inevitably worsens the
situation. The diver should be treated as a potential casualty, kept
quiet and administered oxygen and oral fluids. Emergency advice should
be sought and their recommended actions followed - see the section on
Decompression for contact information.
BSAC 88 Decompression Tables/Decompression/Oxygen)
Delayed SMB is no substitute for a fixed shot-line and wherever
practical a shotline should be used for the ascent and descent phases
of the dive. However there are situations where the use of a shot line
or a conventional SMB may not be appropriate, and in these
circumstances consider the use of a Delayed SMB. Ensure that you
practice deployment and usage of the Delayed SMB in safe, simulated
conditions before using one in earnest, and when deploying the Delayed
SMB do not attach the free end of the line or reel to yourself, or to
other personal equipment.
depth of 50 metres is recommended as the limit for normal recreational
diving. Within this limit BSAC divers have additional restrictions
upon the maximum depth to which they should dive, dependant upon their
diving grade. The specific depth limitations for each grade are
contained within the current Diver Training Programme and
Qualification Record Logbook.
is statistical evidence that decompression illness is more likely to
occur on dives deeper than 50 metres, even though decompression tables
may be strictly adhered to, and such occurrences are usually serious,
with central nervous system involvement. When diving deeper than 35
metres, special care with planning is vital, and recommended deep
diving practices should be adhered to. The NDC strongly recommends
that dives in excess of the recommended maximum depth limits should
not be undertaken by recreational divers.
diving with oxygen enriched mixtures it is essential that the maximum
operating depth for the mixture is adhered to. Failure to do so may
have fatal consequences due to the onset of oxygen toxicity.
at sea can range from an extreme form of decompression illness, where
life is threatened, to divers being lost on the surface having been
swept away by the tide. Procedures to deal with such a range of
emergencies are as follows:-
dive boat at sea requiring Search or Rescue assistance for a missing
or overdue diver should use a "MAYDAY" call if life is in
danger. Less serious, but nonetheless urgent requests (e.g. a boat
drifting with no engine), may warrant a "PAN PAN" (Urgency)
call. Both these calls would be broadcast on VHF Channel 16. If your
boat does not carry VHF radio it is sometimes possible to attract the
attention of passing vessels who may radio on your behalf.
can be used to attract attention, either from the shore or from other
vessels in the area. It is important that flares are not wasted, so
only fire them if there is someone likely to see your signal. Several
Maritime and Coastguard Agency reports, each year, indicate that some
divers leave it too long before raising the alarm. Do not delay too
long if you are convinced problems are arising which you cannot
distress at sea, where decompression illness is involved, see
is a rule of the BSAC that the Dive Marshal has the authority of the
Branch Diving Officer to suspend a member from diving if instructions
are not obeyed.
Authorised Branch Dives)
Authorised Branch Dives/Buddy Diving, also Dive Planning and
Planning and Organisation
boat dives are taking place, make sure that a responsible person on
shore has details of your dive plan and estimated time of return. The
Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is always grateful for a phone /
radio call to brief them of your intentions, and confirmation that you
have returned to shore safely. Accurate records of diver training,
dives and expeditions should be kept at all times.
International Code Flag 'A' should always be flown when diving. For
small boats it should be at least 1/2 metre square and should have the
means to fully extend it in calm conditions. It should not be flown
when travelling to or from a dive site.
Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) is a very effective and effortless way
for the diver to cover a large underwater area. By riding, or being
dragged along by the DPV, the diver is provided with greater mobility
and range for the dive, as well as breathing a reduced amount of the
mixture due to the reduced effort required for motion. Such a
reduction in gas consumption may therefore also allow the diver to
spend a longer period of time underwater, subject to their personal
major risks related to DPVs are listed as follows:
looking at, and therefore properly monitoring, pressure, depth and
other gauges whilst holding on to the DPV. However the diver can pause
from time to time to review these instruments.
of equipment due to the speed of the DPV. The diver will need to
ensure that all ancillary equipment such as torches etc. are securely
strapped to the person, and, in addition, do not dangle from the body
where they could fall into the propeller guard.
and other pressure related injuries could occur as a consequence of a
rapid descent, and particularly on the ascent. Due to the potential
speed that the diver may travel using a DPV,
these vehicles should be very carefully used for the descent
and ascent phases of the dive.
separation from the buddy could occur, unless the buddy also has a DPV.
It is important that both members of the buddy pair use DPVs, since if
only one member of the pair has such a vehicle then it is quite
possible that the pair may become separated due to their obvious
different speeds of movement through the water.
in poor visibility. Always a potential risk, but unlikely.
divers need to be recalled to the surface there are several means
available. If they are using SMB's a pre-arranged signal on the line
is sufficient. Thunderflashes can be purchased, but ensure they are of
large enough size and that they are weighted in order to sink before
you need to use them. Endeavour to allow divers to experience a
thunderflash going off as a training drill so that they will recognise
the sound when they experience it in a real situation.
is also a diver recall system available using a .38 'blank' cartridge.
This allows several signals to be fired. Divers are cautioned against
taking such devices abroad, particularly when flying.
you are taking prescribed medication of any kind, do not dive unless
clearance has been given by an approved Medical Adviser.
are two main types of drysuit in common use, the membrane type (which
require adequate undersuit thermal protection) and foam neoprene
drysuits. Each type has different weighting requirements. The buoyancy
a drysuit provides cannot be guaranteed to support a diver on the
surface safely - the air in the suit is too easily vented when
swimming or in rescue situations. For this reason, plus the common
sense of having a "redundant" method of obtaining controlled
buoyancy, a buoyancy compensator (BCD) is worn.
training can be undertaken by Branches during initial training or at
any time in later training. Sheltered water / pool training is
essential before progressing to open water. Do not wear excess weight
when using a drysuit, wear just sufficient to be neutrally buoyant at
6 metres with a nearly empty cylinder. Divers have experienced
problems on ascents because they have used both buoyancy compensator
and drysuit to compensate for buoyancy loss, and have not enough hands
to operate all the controls plus coping with whatever else they might
divers should include their method of achieving neutral buoyancy as
part of the buddy check and dive brief. They should also advise their
buddy on whether their suit is capable of being used as the main
source of buoyancy during a Controlled Buoyant Lift, or whether their
BCD will have to be used.
NDC recommends that drysuited divers adjust their buoyancy underwater
by introducing air into their drysuits, rather than into their
is extremely dangerous to attempt to recover or retain live explosive
devices. Immersion in water could render them very unstable,
especially if they are consequently dried out, so keep well clear of
any such devices you find. If you consider that they are in a
dangerous location, inform the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
attempt to bring them to the surface and on no account abandon
them in shallow water, or on the beach;
undertake the use of underwater explosives for carrying out
underwater work without a recognised course of training;
dive near sites where underwater explosives are being used
since the shock waves can be fatal.
uses as much energy as moderate to heavy work. Before resuming diving,
after a lay off, you are advised to regain physical fitness, practice
basic underwater skills in the pool or sheltered water training area
and complete a series of "work up" dives before diving to
depth. Ensure all divers are both physically and psychologically fit
for the dives they plan to undertake.
smoke and red handheld / rocket flares should be carried by all dive
boats in order to attract attention when in difficulties at sea.
Similar flares, in waterproof containers, are available for divers to
carry in the event of them becoming lost at sea. Flares should not be
used for signalling purposes in a non-emergency situation. Gun type
flare launchers require a Firearms Certificate for use within the UK.
are cautioned against taking such devices abroad, particularly when
or travelling to altitude after diving can give rise to decompression
illness. Flying or travelling to altitude before diving may increase
the risk of decompression illness on a subsequent dive. It is
therefore recommended that divers use the BSAC 88 Decompression Tables
(Levels 1-4) to determine whether the proposed dive/journey
combination is acceptable.
BSAC 88 Decompression Tables/Altitude)
before a snorkel dive, should be avoided at all costs, as it has the
effect of flushing out carbon dioxide from the respiratory system.
Build up of carbon dioxide, rather than lack of oxygen, creates the
desire to breathe and, by getting rid of carbon dioxide in this way,
snorkellers are more likely to suffer a "blackout" through
hypoxia (shortage of oxygen).
No Clear Surface.
of the BSAC automatically gives worldwide Public Liability insurance
cover of up to £5,000,000 when the member is engaged in diving or
diving related activities. This cover is available to all BSAC members
regardless of where they are domiciled, and cover applies as soon as
membership is confirmed/renewed. This is considered to be the earlier
of when the Branch issues a temporary membership receipt to that
member, or when the membership details
are included on the BSAC"s membership database at BSAC
also includes any qualified diving guests of the insured, prior to
becoming a full member, whilst participating in the activities of any
Branch to which the policy applies, as well as any intended member
undergoing preliminary training. Both of these extensions are
naturally subject to certain time limits,
and further details on the policy can be obtained from BSAC
is not restricted to only BSAC organised events or when the member is
diving with other BSAC members. The general rule is that if the member
is also a member of another diving association and is participating in
a dive organised by this other association, then that
association"s own public liability insurance policy should
respond. If mixtures of individuals from various organisations are
diving with an independent organiser then the BSAC policy will respond
to that BSAC member.
social events such as shows, bOrganised social events such as shows,
barbecues, bonfire parties and other fund raising events are covered.
However the policy does not cover personal or Branch diving equipment
or boats, and it is a constitutional rule of the BSAC that all boats
used for Branch diving, whether privately owned or not, must be
insured for Third Party risks with a minimum indemnity limit as
recommended by the BSAC, currently
at £5,000,000. If water skiing is included in Branch activities,
additional cover is also required.
is important to note that potential incidents should be reported to
the BSAC using the BSAC Incident Reporting System, and further details
on this system, and the insurance policy itself can be obtained by
contacting Technical Support Services at BSAC Headquarters.
the exception of requirements relating to cylinders (see Cylinders)
and the law which protects historic wreck sites, there are no laws or
government regulations in the UK about the way in which the sport of
diving must be conducted.
if you dive for money or reward, even using recreational techniques
and equipment, you are considered to be a professional diver and are
subject to the requirements of the Diving at Work Regulations 1997.
These regulations require a diving medical issued by a medical
examiner approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and impose
detailed safety requirements on all diving operations.
divers must be aware that any job of work carried out for anything
other than essential expenses e.g. petrol or air costs, would be
considered subject to the requirements of the Regulations. It does not
matter whether the money or gifts are presented to the divers or their
Branch, this would still be seen by the HSE as diving at work. Even
jobs of work undertaken for true expenses are seen by professional
divers as "stealing their work" and will often be a source
regulations recognise that different techniques are used by the
different sectors of the diving industry, and there are five separate
Codes of Practice covering Offshore Diving, Inshore Diving, Scientific
and Archaeological Diving, Recreational Diving and Media Diving.
working professionally have to comply with the requirements of the
relevant Code of Practice. Those teaching sport diving professionally
must comply with the Recreational Diving Code of Practice.
BSAC qualifications have been approved by the HSE for activities
covered by this Code.
is strongly recommended that all divers should undergo a medical
examination before beginning training with underwater breathing
apparatus, although a chest x-ray would not normally be required. This
recommendation is a rule for members of the BSAC.
medicals should be taken every five years up to the age of 40, every
three years to the age of 50, and annually thereafter. Branch Diving
Officers should ask for proof of current medical fitness when members
transfer to them from another Branch.
member who has been the subject of a decompression accident must not
commence diving again until medical clearance has been obtained from a
BSAC Medical Referee, or another NDC Approved Consultant.
new members who are undergoing the 'Experience Scuba' introductory
course should be asked to sign a disclaimer, which states they have
not suffered from diseases or conditions which would make aqualung
gases containing nitrogen and oxygen in proportions other than that of
air may be used by properly trained and qualified BSAC members.
Mixtures containing other gases (e.g. helium, hydrogen) are not
recommended for use by recreational divers.(see Nitrox)
buoyancy is achieved when the diver is able to remain in a static
position in the water and rises or falls as a result of breathing in
and out. Comfortable diving means the achievement of neutral buoyancy,
if required, at any stage of the dive. Correct weighting is critical
to gaining neutral buoyancy easily, the diver should carry just enough
weight to hold a 6m. decompression stop with a nearly empty cylinder.
NDC strongly recommend that where a drysuit is being worn, the drysuit
is used to maintain neutral buoyancy underwater.
diving, especially in tidal waters, requires very careful planning.
Each diver should have a working torch otherwise the dive should be
terminated. An efficient system of marking the point of exit must be
employed. Care must be taken with diver to diver signals to ensure
that the torch is not shone directly into the diver's eyes.
Narcosis decreases a person's ability to cope with emergencies, slows
down reaction and realisation time and increases the risk of an
accident. There is strong evidence to suggest that 40m should be
regarded as the maximum depth for most sports divers, as below this
depth narcosis problems can become debilitating.
use of Nitrox (nitrogen / oxygen mixtures where the oxygen content is
greater than that of air) as a breathing gas can provide a safety
benefit in terms of a reduced risk of decompression illness, or enable
longer dives times / shorter decompression stop requirements with no
added risk. The use of Nitrox has certain disadvantages which require
training and suitable equipment to minimise the risk.
trained and qualified BSAC members are permitted to use Nitrox on
Branch dives, with the approval of the Dive Marshall. The BSAC
provides a range of courses and qualifications in Nitrox diving.
NDC recommends a maximum partial pressure for oxygen exposure when
diving of 1.4 bar. This figure will normally determine the Maximum
Operating Depth for any Nitrox mixture. However, for the standard
mixtures of 32% and 36% oxygen, Maximum Operating Depths of 35m. and
30m. respectively are permitted. Failure to observe the Maximum
Operating Depth for any gas mixture may have fatal consequences due to
the onset of oxygen toxicity. (See Cylinders (Nitrox)).
Diving, Ice Diving, Diving inside Wrecks)
wishing to dive in caves should contact the appropriate cave diving
organisations, as this is very specialised diving, in terms of
technique and equipment, and is not covered in BSAC diver training.
under ice should only be undertaken with a surface party of at least
two. This allows one to tender the divers, while the other is free, if
required for any reason, including an emergency. One of the divers
must be securely roped to the surface, if diving in pairs, and contact
between them should be by means of a buddy line.
should not be penetrated without proper training and equipment. (See
is very strongly recommended that diving in 'odd numbers' be avoided,
as the 'odd man out', to some extent, is without a buddy.
administration of 100% pure oxygen following a decompression accident
is recognised as an effective FIRST AID TREATMENT and may result in
much less serious injuries. It SHOULD NEVER be regarded as a
substitute for recompression, which is the only effective treatment in
such cases. Members who have taken part in appropriate training
courses and who have approved equipment, are recommended to use oxygen
to treat divers showing symptoms of decompression illness, while they
are waiting for recompression treatment. Where 100% oxygen is
unavailable as a therapy gas, Nitrox mixtures may be used, although
the benefit will be much less than that of pure oxygen.
use of Nitrox mixtures containing up to 80% oxygen is permitted for
diving by properly trained and qualified BSAC members. Mixtures
containing more than 80% oxygen are NOT recommended for use by
recreational divers. (See also Rebreathers).
(Patent Foramen Ovale)
pregnancy the right and left sides of the foetal heart are connected.
The hole between the right and left sides is known as the Foramen
Ovale. Normally this should heal over after birth, separating the
venous and arterial blood supplies passing through the heart. However
in a proportion of the population (perhaps 25%) this hole does not
close up completely, resulting in a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO). The
consequence for divers is that having a PFO can increase the risk of
decompression illness. This occurs as a result of bubbles in the
venous circulation (which would normally be filtered out in the lungs)
shunting across to the arterial circulation, where they continue to
expand in size.
well away from fishermen's buoys, pots and pot markers, unless there
are special circumstances.
evidence as to the safety of diving whilst pregnant is not conclusive.
However there is evidence that deep diving may cause harm to the
foetus. Certainly decompression illness and its subsequent treatment
could be harmful to the foetus. Consequently if a woman is pregnant,
or is trying to become pregnant, she is strongly advised not to dive.
women who decide they wish to continue to dive whilst pregnant, or
trying to become pregnant, should only undertake shallow dives,
ideally less than 10m and no deeper than 20m, and remain well inside
no-stop times. Even at shallow depths there remains a risk of
pulmonary barotrauma which could require recompression treatment and
cause harm to the foetus.
a woman discovers she is pregnant and has been diving during the
pregnancy, she is advised to discuss her case with a BSAC Medical
Referee. The scientific evidence is not clear cut and ultrasound
studies, together with other indications, may be useful to allay any
fears and help in the decision as to how the pregnancy should be
propeller guard, fitted to an outboard motor, gives a degree of
protection from injuries to divers. Before fitting a propeller guard,
take note of the manufacturer's recommendations and instructions, as
it is possible to cause stress to the gear box and low end of the
engine. Some loss of power may result from fitting a propeller guard.
water qualifying dives should be made under the guidance of a Branch
instructor or approved Dive Leader. Each dive should increase the
diver's experience of differing underwater conditions and where
appropriate follow the format laid out within the training scheme.
circuit sport diving rebreathers are the only type of rebreather
currently permitted for use on BSAC Branch dives. Members wishing to
use a rebreather for recreational dives must hold a recognised
rebreather qualification and register this qualification with BSAC
Technical Support Services at BSAC HQ.
BSAC rules and recommendations for safe diving are equally applicable
to diving with a rebreather. Rebreather divers should also follow the
additional guidelines for diving with rebreathers that the BSAC have
published, which in summary are as follows:
maximum depth for BSAC rebreather diving is 40 metres.
rebreather is not to be used by an instructor whilst teaching or
assessing an open circuit diver.
prepare and use the rebreather following specifications set by the
your intended dive plan with your buddy and inform the Dive Marshal of
your buddy check procedure to accommodate the rebreather layout.
that your buddy understands the operation of your rebreather.
Emphasise the opening and closing of the mouthpiece to maintain gas in
the loop in the event of a rescue.
carry a suitable alternative gas source for yourself and your buddy.
only permissible gas for use in a rebreather on BSAC dives is Nitrox.
The maximum oxygen percentage allowed is 80%.
a means of indication on the surface. Reduced bubbles will make boat
cover difficult if no marker is used.
the role of the rebreather in First Aid following a DCI incident
within the diving party: a rebreather allows prolonged enriched air to
be made available to the conscious casualty.
a diver misses planned decompression stops, no attempt should be made
to enter the water again in order to complete them. In this situation
the diver is increasing the risk of decompression illness.
BSAC 88 Decompression Tables should be used for planning and
performing repeat dives. Where two or more dives are being made the
same day, it is good practice to carry out the deepest dive first. You
should also take care if you are involved in several days of diving
deeper than 30m. It is possible to accumulate excess nitrogen over
this period, and apparently 'innocent' dives, carried out near the end
of the period of diving, can cause decompression illness. It is
therefore recommended that any dive series involving consecutive days
diving to 30m+ is limited to four days, after which a 24 hour break
should be taken.
BSAC 88 Decompression Tables)
should take great care with the use of ropes underwater, especially
using reels as distance lines from shot lines. Reels for SMB use
should float independently, have a quick release system such as a
bayonet fitting snap lock and divers should be taught how to use them.
When divers do get into difficulties on ascent it is often the best
course of action to ditch the reel so that both hands are free to deal
with the situation. When using a reel and line as a bottom distance
line, we recommend that a reel and line which sinks is used and that
when deploying line, hold the reel and line away from the body and
especially the legs. It should also be recovered from in front of you.
Never let a bight of line develop in front of you; slow down and wind
divers become separated underwater, a brief attempt (approx. 30
seconds) to re-locate should be made, after which the divers should
surface. If the dive is subsequently re-commenced appropriate
decompression planning must first be carried out.
should be completely familiar with the standard code of visual signals
and should give them accurately and clearly. All signals should be
acknowledged. The 'Come and get me' signal by a diver at the surface
is to be used only for distress, and not as a 'Pick me up' signal.
are occasions, e.g. in nil visibility or when working underwater, when
the 'buddy' system is ineffective. On these occasions a solo dive may
be required, with the diver being securely roped and in constant rope
communication with a surface 'tender', who should be a diver himself.
rope must be securely fastened to a suitable object on the surface.
Communicating signals must be fully understood and a fully kitted,
roped, 'stand-by' diver must be available in the event of an
the majority of dives your stand-by diver is your buddy. A stand-by
diver is usually only required when a solo dive, using a rope tender,
is in operation.
Marker Buoy (SMB)
should be used in significantly moving water, when operating well
offshore and in areas with heavy surface traffic. There may be times,
other than these stated, when their use might be deemed prudent by the
dive marshal. It is essential that correct training is given to new
members in their use, as for any unfamiliar equipment. In some
situations e.g. wreck sites with slack water, they are unnecessary and
can actually be a hazard to the diver.
fishing, particularly on wreck sites, with difficult-to-see
monofilament netting, is a real hazard around the British coast.
Experiments have shown that the average diver"s knife is very
ineffective should the diver become entangled. A curved blade
"dinghy" knife, with a blunt end, is probably the most
effective type and needs to be worn on the arm. A knife with a sharp
point could lead to a diver stabbing himself when in difficulties.
Small shears or scissors are recommended as an effective tool for
cutting netting. Once caught in netting, it is advisable to partially
inflate your lifejacket, so you rise inside the net, putting it under
tension and making it easier to cut. The positive buoyancy will also
help to "tear" you away. If your buddy is free of the
netting he may be advised to cut you out, still enmeshed, and worry
about completing the job on the surface.
success of any sea dive depends on accurate, local, tidal predictions
for the dive site you wish to visit. Admiralty charts give accurate
large scale predictions and should be used in conjunction with the
relevant local tide tables. Tidal Stream Atlases are also useful and
are available for the UK and many other sea areas throughout the
radios are a valuable aid to safety at sea and, together with suitable
waterproof housings, are frequently used in small boats.
should only be used by someone who has passed the appropriate exam and
when the radio is licensed. All divers are recommended to attend a
BSAC VHF Course available through the Coaching Scheme, where correct
radio procedures are taught.
is an offence to use Marine VHF radio from the land, so your shore
party is not allowed to use one.
an accurate weather forecast for your dive site can save a lot of
unnecessary travelling expense and can mean the difference between a
controlled successful dive and a risky experience.
TV News Bulletins are always followed by a UK forecast with easy to
understand symbols. Some daily newspapers carry a good forecast with
weather map, and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency always has an up
to date forecast. RAF stations have a meteorological station and are
usually very helpful. The Shipping Forecast on Radio 4 is another very
useful source, whilst the Meteorological Office (Met Office) provides
a telephone message and fax back service: its helpine is 01344 854153.
when used, should always be fitted with a reliable quick release and
fitted so that it will always fall clear of other equipment when
released. You should be practised in releasing your weighbelt and
should also make sure that your buddy is well briefed and fully
familiar with your release mechanism. If the buckle is of the same
type as on the cylinder harness, it is wise to wear it so that it
operates in the opposite direction.
diving is one of the most popular forms of diving and requires extra
safety precautions if divers venture inside the wreck. Many steel
wrecks are in a dangerous state of decay, and loose overhead objects
or steel plates are a real hazard. Never venture deep inside a wreck
without ensuring your route to clear water is certain, and use a reel
and line secured to the outside of the wreck to mark your return
route. Avoid excessive finning inside a wreck as sediment stirred up
is very slow to settle, due to lack of tidal flow. Always allow an
adequate reserve of air at the end of your dive and never run down
your air supply by attempting to remove an artefact. Never try to lift
heavy objects from wrecks using your BCD and/or drysuit.
and more people are taking to the water. Some for recreation; some to
earn their living. This code is designed to ensure that divers do not
come into conflict with other water users and sets out some guidelines
which should be observed alongside the regulations relating to Marine
the nearest BSAC Branch or the dive operator local to the dive site
for their advice. Seek advice from them about the local conditions and
regulations. If appropriate, have the correct chart and tide tables
for the area to be dived.
the beach, river bank or lakeside
Obtain permission before diving in a harbour or estuary or in
private water. Thank those responsible before you leave. Pay harbour
Try to avoid overcrowding one site, consider other people on
Park sensibly. Avoid obstructing narrow approach roads. Keep
off verges. Pay parking fees and use proper car parks.
Don't spread yourselves and your equipment since you may upset
other people. Keep launching ramps and slipways clear.
Please keep the peace. Don't operate a compressor within
earshot of other people - or late at night.
Pick up litter. Close gates. Be careful about fires. Avoid any
damage to land or crops.
Obey special instructions such as National Trust rules, local
bye-laws and regulations about camping and caravanning.
Remember divers in wet or drysuits are conspicuous and bad
behaviour could ban us from beaches.
and on the water
Mark your dive boats so that your Club can be identified
easily. Unmarked boats may become suspect.
Ask the harbour-master or local officials where to launch your
boat - and do as they say. Tell the Coastguard, or a responsible
person, where you are going and tell them when you are back.
Stay away from buoys, pots, and pot markers. Ask local
fishermen where not to dive. Avoid driving through rafts of seabirds
or seal colonies etc.
Remember ships have not got brakes, so avoid diving in fairways
or areas of heavy surface traffic and observe the 'International
Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea'.
Always fly the diving flag when diving, but not when on the way
to, or from, the dive site. Never leave a boat unattended.
Do not come in to bathing beaches under power. Use any special
approach lanes. Do not disturb any seal or bird colonies with your
boats. Watch your wash in crowded nchorages.
Whenever possible, divers should use a surface marker buoy.
Never use a speargun.
Shellfish, such as crabs and lobsters, take several years to
grow to maturity; over-collecting in an area soon depletes stocks.
Observe local Byelaws and restrictions on the collection of animal and
plant specimens. However the BSAC recommends that you do not collect
shellfish, but if you must collect, only take mature fish or shellfish
and then only what you need for yourself. Never take a berried female
(a female with eggs), this is stock for future years. Never sell your
catch or clean it in public or on the beach and do not display your
Ascertain and comply with seasonal access restrictions
established to protect seabirds and seals from disturbance. During the
seabird breeding season (1st March 1st August) reduce noise and
speed near seabird breeding sites. Do not approach seal breading or
haul-out sites. Do not approach dolphins or porpoises in the water.
Be conservation conscious. Avoid damage to weeds and the sea
bed. Do not bring up sea-fans, corals, starfish or sea urchins - in
one moment you can destroy years of growth.
Take photographs and notes - not specimens.
Do not dive on a designated protected wreck site. These are
indicated on Admiralty Charts and marked by buoys or warning notices
on the shore nearby.
Do not lift anything which appears to be of historical
If you do discover a wreck, pinpoint the site, do a rough
survey and report it to the Nautical Archaeological Society, who will
If you do not lift anything from the wreck, it is not necessary
to report your discovery to the Receiver of Wreck. If you do lift, you
must report even if you, or your Branch, owns the wreck.
If your find is important, you may apply for it to be
designated a protected site. Then you can build up a well qualified
team with the right credentials and proceed with a systematic survey
or excavation under licence without outside interference.
Divers Code of Conduct that is set out immediately above was developed
by the BSAC many years ago, and is still relevant to all divers today.
However environmental issues are of greater concern to all water users
today than ever before, particularly when this Code was developed, and
so during 1999 the BSAC will be actively developing its environmental
presence by the development of the following policies.
provide education in environmental awareness, understanding and
promote Branch participation in environmental schemes and events
current environmental issues, and work with other environmentalists in
order to provide a united approach to deal with these issues.
further develop and update the Divers Code of Conduct