Nothing can bring you peace but yourself
Divers are by nature adventurous people with the needed bravery and confidence to go deep underwater and explore the rarely seen world. It is unfortunately also natural that every one of us can get into a panic state of mind under difficult or threatening circumstances. Panic is also a major issue in scuba diving, because every action driven by panic is counter-intuitive to safe-diving practice. In a panic state of mind, divers will revert solely to their instinct for self-preservation rather than proper train of thoughts to find solutions and overcome problems.
How to Deal with Panic When Scuba Diving
There are many possible reasons why divers panic. It can be from a simple error in their equipment, getting lost or separated from their diving buddy, to an encounter with unfriendly aquatic animal. The reactions during panic, on the other hand, are pretty predictable including faster breathing, irrational actions, bolting to the surface, or even removing the regulator. According to the National Underwater Accident Data Center, about 20% of all deaths when diving can be directly attributed to panicking. Here are some tips to minimize risk of panicking and how to deal with it:
Practice: basic skills of scuba diving are important. Once you master those skills, you are ready to dive. However, basic skills alone are not enough because you also have to prepare for the possibilities of emergency situations. Training drills to simulate emergency situations are excellent, but the training regime must also encourage improvisations. There is no definable sequence in a real-world diving emergency case. Your diving instructor should help students to develop the capability of improvising as well.
A common cause of emergencies is the encounter with unfriendly animals, equipment failure, and losing your dive buddy. Prepare for each situation before going underwater, and rehearse it with a friend / dive buddy or diving instructor. Knowing what to do to solve problems before they occur is the best preparation.
Stop and think
Getting in a panic state underwater is extremely dangerous. Although you can scream into your regulator, there is a small chance to be heard. Some fellow divers may not even notice that you are panicked. Before you try hard to ascend as quickly as you can or make visual signs, you should stop - literally, concentrate on steadying your breathing, try to think and then act. Regardless of the situations, asses your conditions and surrounding environments before you do anything else.
On the other hand, if you are the person witnessing a panicked diver, you might find it pretty scary too. Unless you are a certified rescue diver, trying to help a panicking buddy might put you in a life endangering situation yourself. Although scuba diving in Padangbai is suited for diving beginners too, sometime all it takes for even for a more experienced diver to start panicking is a tiny bit of water getting into their nostrils or throat. That is why at OK Divers in Padangbai every dive is led by a skilled and certified professional who will exactly know what to do in case of emergency.