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April 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 30, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Two Good Reads for Reducing Your Dive Risks

from the April, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

You've no doubt read the many stories we've written about divers who found themselves in dangerous situations underwater and were faced with life/death choices. Some were smart enough to know what to do and get out of their snarls safely, but far too many did not. Two books on dive safety are must-reads for anyone who takes diving seriously.

Steve Lewis is aTwo Good Reads for Reducing Your Dive Risks dive instructor, expedition leader, industry consultant, and columnist who has authored several dive safety textbooks. In his latest, Staying Alive, he revisits the survival guidelines originally proposed by legendary cave diver Sheck Exley, and illustrates them in eight chapters: attitude, knowledge, training, gas supply, gas mix, exposure, equipment and operations. Lewis writes in a conversational manner, mixing discussions he has had with other dive pros on the topic with historical background about how dive training and safety was improved (you'll know all you want to know about Boyle's Law), and examples of disaster scenarios to try at home. One good chart to keep handy is a "reaction cheat sheet" that will make sure you know what to do about underwater mishaps such as lost masks or buddies and low air.

Staying Alive is a lot of text, and most of it is Lewis's own recommendations about what to do and not to do. However, if you prefer a little voice in your brain to talk you through, Lewis's easy tone and detailed explanations do the trick. If you're a technical diver or want to try it, Lewis has detailed information about gas supply, gas toxicity and operations. Any type of diver will benefit from his advice about gear. While it's not a book you can flip through to get the exact what-to-do just before you get into the water, it's a good book to review at leisure when you want to think about how to do it right the next time you dive.

Two Good Reads for Reducing Your Dive RisksScuba Diving Safety by Dan Orr, the former CEO of Divers Alert Network and Eric Douglas, its former director of training is more a book for divers to know how to take care of other divers who've gotten into trouble. This is definitely a good book for a dive operator or trip leader, with its details about how to create an emergency assistance plan, conduct a missing diver search, and what information to collect about each diver just in case. However, sport divers planning trips with their buddies will get a lot of good advice. The authors offer useful details about how to rescue a conscious diver compared to an unconscious one, and how to do surface rescues versus ones underwater. There are chapters on resuscitation and towing and removing divers from the water, all with photos and images. The "Diving First-Aid" chapter is an essential reference guide for all divers.

Too many divers do not think about potential trouble, but rather defer to the dive crew. But a smart diver understands just how independent and alone he is. If you're keen on self-preservation, these two books belong in your diving library. You can purchase them both from the Books section on our website.

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