Remember the story about the Thai kids stranded in a cave? It was world news, and for good reason.
Can you imagine…
The claustophia… the risk of drowning.
Not for the faint of heart, let me say.
Of course, there is another take on caves.
One of the most breathtaking adventures one can experience is cave diving. Aside from the beautiful scenery and unequaled ambiance, cave diving presents a very challenging underwater maneuver. Imagine yourself diving underneath rock formations with nothing else to keep you alive but your common sense and equipment.
Cave diving is different from open water diving because the latter offers a better chance of survival when something goes wrong. Safe cave diving requires, above all, fitness of both mind and body. Abiding by the following tips will definitely increase your safety. So here goes:
1. Grab the correct equipment
Cave diving and open water diving use different types of equipment. Procure equipment from reputable cave diving shops. You can definitely make use of your creativity and improvise some of the gadgets just to make sure you have the right tools for the activity.
2. Multiple lighting devices
Cave diving is in a world of total darkness. Without sufficient light support you could easily lose your way in the underwater caverns even if there are guidelines. Make sure to bring multiple reserved sources of light; three to four pieces of lighting equipment is good.
3. Presence of mind
Even before getting into the underground water, try to visualize the passages underneath the cave. Anticipating the directions will save energy and air.
4. Mind your guideline
Avoid getting tangled on the safety guideline because this is your main indicator for direction. If it snaps, you could lose your bearings and you will be underwater for a longer time.
5. Keep dangling stuff away
While swimming through narrow and sharp underwater passageways, things dangling from your body can get you stuck on tight underwater chambers. Any hanging trinkets could become serious trouble that will restrict your movement.
6. Check your air constantly
With open water diving, you can easily surface out of the water if you ran out of oxygen. But for cave diving, it is simply impossible so make sure that you have enough air–the rule says at least two thirds—for your way out.
7. Don’t panic
In emergency situations one has to control of their self and avoid panicking. You can easily get disoriented and things can go from bad to worst if you are overwhelmed with fear.
Of course, remaining calm is easier said than done. It is obviously great advice, but how can one stay calm?
- Well, you should practice all the time. Hold your breath often. Practice increasing the time you can hold it.
- Practice lowering your breathing. Then work on slowing your breathing down.
- Panic is intertwined with physiology. What body postures and movements are associated with calm states vs. panic states?
8. Nothing beats good training and preparation
Not even, prey tell, reading my article, gulp.
Cave diving is such a unique activity that it will need formal training to keep you safe. Attend classes from reputable and certified cave diving schools. Don’t gamble with your life by breaking the limits of what you have learned.