The most important rule in Freediving Safety
Never Ever Dive Alone!
98% of accidents in this sport could have been prevented in people stuck to this golden rule of freediving safety. Deaths in freediving rarely occur, however there are a few safety considerations to prevent this from happening.
The Buddy System
The buddy system leads on from the most important rule that I mentioned above. Not only should you never dive alone, but the person you are diving with should be properly trained. By attending a freediving course you’ll learn the basics of how to be a good buddy and safety diver. This involves only ever having one person diving at a time. The safety diver must meet safteythe diver on the final 10-15 metres of their ascent. The safety diver should also be properly trained in rescue techniques and what needs to be done in case of a freediver blacking out.
Hyperventilation is when a freediver breathes very rapidly and shallow. This effectively lowers the amount of CO2 in your bloodstream which is what gives you the urge to breathe. How is this bad? Well, by lowering the amount of CO2 you’re basically almost switching off your body’s alarm system of when you need to come up and breathe. You’ll feel more comfortable. But at the very dangerous cost of probably running out of oxygen before you know it. Imagine suddenly blacking out underwater without warning. It’s not worth the risk and actually increases oxygen consumption. Hyperventilation will not increase your dive times. Before various studies on breath holding this was a popular way to make diving more comfortable. However it has been shown that normal relaxed breathing and slowly getting used to more CO2 in your body is the safer way to freedive.
Another popular misconception is the more lead weight you use, the easier it will be to descend. While technically true, this is also extremely dangerous. If too much weight is used the freediver will be negatively buoyant closer to the surface. In case of a blackout the freediver will sink rather than float. Their safety diver will have a much harder time bringing them back to the surface. Beginner freedivers should be weighted just enough to offset the buoyancy created by their wetsuit and no more. It may seem easier to get down to depth, but remember you will have to bring that weight back up again on the ascent.