The Coast Guard wants you to Survive Your Dive!

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LOS ANGELES – As response agencies continue their search for a missing diver in Emerald Bay on Catalina Island, Calif., the Coast Guard reminds recreational divers to play it safe when diving along the California coast.

In addition to the ongoing search, a diver fatality was reported Wednesday morning off Anacapa Island by the National Park Service, bringing the number diving accidents in the area to three since Spiny Lobster season opened Sept. 27th.

“The Coast Guard doesn’t regulate recreational diving but is generally called in to assist during diving emergencies,” said Capt. Jennifer Williams, Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach commander.  “We see the tragic results when people underestimate the hazards associated with diving, with many of the injuries and deaths that occur being preventable. Diving is a sport that leaves little room for error and we urge everyone who is in the water to make safety a top priority.”

FIVE TOP DIVE SAFETY TIPS

1. Have a medical assessment by a doctor before diving.

2. Always dive with a buddy, and leave details of your dive trip with someone ashore who will report you overdue if you run into trouble.

3. Plan your dive, follow your plan, and provide your emergency plan to someone on shore.

4. Choose dives that match your training, experience and fitness level.

5. Practice emergency procedures, like dropping your weight belt and inflating your buoyancy compensator, in a controlled environment.

All the normal hazards of water sports and recreation are more dangerous for those spending time below the surface. Strong ocean and rip currents can occur at any time of year. Water temperatures, limited air supply, reliance on equipment for survival, and the lack of underwater rescue capabilities all make it essential that divers are fully aware of their own limits and prepared for all possible problems.

Diving safety experts report that many accidents stem from people underestimating the hazards associated with diving, and overestimating their own physical fitness and skill levels. They stress the importance of the buddy system, planning, fitness and medical issues, and awareness of weather and sea conditions.

Divers should not let schedules, peer pressure or costs push them beyond their capabilities. People who have invested time and money to plan a dive trip, or sport fishers anxious to harvest fish during a set season, may be tempted to dive in unsafe conditions or overexert themselves. It’s a good idea to have an alternate activity planned in case a dive trip has to be cancelled for weather, equipment, or health problems.

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