Scuba Diving Without Certifications
Every dive boat you get on it seems there is that person with a story about how they started diving without a certification. Their friend, or a friend of a friend, took them out and they just went diving. These stories may seem like they are a little far fetched, but many people start diving without a certification.
There are inherent risks when you do any activity that requires a license or certification. Usually, the training required to get the certificate pertains to vital safety information. For many licenses, there is also legal information you are required to learn about the sport you are going to participate in.
Diving is no different than any other sport that requires a certification. In your training course, you learn life-saving information about diving and equipment maintenance. With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you would choose to dive without a certification, the legality of it, and how you can make uncertified dives safer.
Is It Legal To Dive Without A Dive License?
There are no laws regarding the licensing or certifying of divers in the United States. Diving is an unregulated sport. Some areas may prevent all diving as they are protected wildlife areas. Other areas require that you have a dive flag up when there are divers in the water.
Most dive trips and dive boats will not allow you to dive uncertified if you are on your own. There are many dive shops that will teach an intro to scuba class that allows an uncertified diver to go into the open water and try out scuba diving. Most certifying agencies like PADI even have courses designed to let people try out scuba without paying for a certification.
These guided dives are done in shallow waters to minimize the risk of expansion injuries and BENDS. Many protocols for introductory dives do not have divers descending more than 1 atmosphere (about 15 feet). This minimizes the pressure that you put on your body and the chance that an unskilled diver will damage their ears or lungs by not breathing.
Gear Rentals Without Certifications
Every dive shop I have ever rented any gear from has wanted to see my dive certification first. This included when I solely checked out air tanks. Even if you purchase your own gear to dive, you will have a hard time getting air tanks without a diving license. The legal liability of sending someone into the water without any proof they know what they are doing is just too risky for dive shops.
Why Should You Get Certified To Dive?
There are plenty of reasons that you should get your diving certification before diving. A few of these reasons include knowing the physics of expansion injuries and how to prevent them. In addition to being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of decompression sickness, you learn things like buoyancy control in an open water scuba class.
Learning Basic Equipment Maintenance
In an open water scuba certification class, you’ll learn things like basic equipment maintenance. It is very important to be able to recognize good scuba gear from bad scuba gear. When scuba diving you are in an enclosed environment that you cannot breathe in. Having faulty gear can lead to a deadly scuba diving trip.
Learning how to attach the regulator to an air tank can ensure that you know your equipment is properly set up. In addition to knowing how to set up your equipment, you will learn what to do in case something happens to your scuba gear when you are under the water. There’s nothing scarier than having your regulator fail or your air tank suddenly go empty because of a faulty pressure gauge. Knowing what to do in case of this type of emergency is a prime example of why you should take a scuba certification class.
You Will Qualify for Dive Insurance
The Diver’s Alert Network (DAN), is an independent agency dedicated to helping divers in emergency situations. The Diver’s Alert Network teaches divers how to recognize expansion injuries and signs of decompression sickness. In addition to that, they have physicians on standby that will interface with emergency personnel if you are ever injured while diving.
Another great thing that DAN offers is dive insurance. This is special medical insurance that covers any expenses related to diving. Diving injuries often require expensive treatments and interventions. A life-flight to a hyperbaric chamber alone can be a bankruptcy causing event. People with insurance from DAN don’t need to worry about any costs associated with dive related injuries and treatment.
You Will Learn How to Control Your Buoyancy
When you watch videos or see pictures of people diving it looks like they are floating seamlessly through the water. An unskilled or unpracticed diver may think that buoyancy is something that happens naturally. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true.
Learning buoyancy control is one of the essential parts of getting a dive certification. Poor buoyancy control is one of the leading causes of decompression sickness and expansion injuries. The inability to maintain a constant depth can lead to injuries that may be life threatening.
You’ll Learn Your ABCs
Any certified diver knows the ABCs of diving. There are certain pre-dive checklists that you must go through every time to make sure your gear is functioning properly. The ABCs checklist allows you to evaluate your equipment easily.
In addition to learning how to do a pre-dive inspection of your equipment, you learn many other important scuba diving basics. These are things that you will not get from uncertified diving. Knowing how to dive and dive safely is going to make diving an enjoyable experience. No one wants their fun and exciting dive trip to end with the hospital visit. Getting your diving certification can help make sure that you don’t end your vacation in a hyperbaric chamber.
In the end, it will be up to you and your personal choice whether you choose to dive uncertified. Uncertified diving is not illegal, and if you have the equipment, there’s nothing to stop you. Certified divers across the world will recommend that you get your diving certification before you get into the water.