Top 10 Tips for First-time Scuba Divers

­­­­­­­­­­­­First-time scuba divers often worry about the same things: Will I be able to equalize my ears? Will I be able to hold my breath long enough to get down? Will I panic underwater? The answers are yes, yes, and no.

First-time scuba diving is a lot easier than you think. Here are 10 tips that will make your first dive a success.

1. Ensure It's Medically Safe to Dive

Before you go diving, talk to your dive instructor about any medications you take and whether they're safe to use while diving. Many medications are not safe for diving, and some can cause problems even if you don't dive after taking them. If you're taking a medication that's not safe for diving, make sure your instructor knows about it before you go underwater.

2. Practice Breathing Techniques

Before your first scuba dive, practice holding your breath and breathing through a snorkel so that you get used to the feeling of air hunger.

3. Ensure Your Mask is Sealed Properly

If you don't have a good seal between your mask and face, water will leak in when you're underwater and cause discomfort or even disorientation.

4. Bring Your Own Gear

If possible, rent your equipment from a reputable dive shop. A reputable shop will provide equipment that's been properly maintained and inspected by the manufacturer or by an independent inspector certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).

5. Check Your Regulator

A regulator is the device that delivers air from your tank to your mouth via the mouthpiece attached to the regulator mouthpiece cover (mouthpiece cover). If your regulator malfunctions while you're underwater, it could cause serious problems such as hypoxia (low oxygen), hypercapnia (high carbon dioxide), drowning or even death if it isn't fixed quickly enough [source: PADI].

6. Check Your Buoyancy Control Device

A buoyancy control device is usually an inflatable vest with adjustable straps that helps divers maintain neutral buoyancy underwater so they don't float up toward the surface or sink toward the bottom [source: PADI].

7. Check Your Dive Computer

A dive computer tracks how much air is left in your tank, how long you've been under water and how deep you've gone so that you can plan when it's time for another tank change [source: PADI].

8. Don't Forget Your Regulator Kit

A regulator kit contains items such as lubricant for clearing debris from valves or regulators; replacement parts for regulators; patches for fixing leaks; replacement mouthpieces; replacement O-rings; and other items necessary for fixing malfunctions [source: PADI].

9. Don't Forget Your Divers Alert Network Card

The Divers Alert Network (DAN) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to diver safety through research and education programs [source: DAN].

10. Do Take It Slow

Your first scuba diving experience should be fun -- not stressful -- so take it slow until you feel comfortable with all of the equipment and techniques involved in scuba diving [source: PADI].

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