Scuba Diving Gear for Kids
Scuba diving is an excellent sport for kids - once they have the correct training and equipment. There is so much to explore beneath the surface of the water. For kids, it is a fascinating new frontier.
Not only will scuba diving introduce a child to a great deal of science, it's good clean fun. When kids have the opportunity to go scuba diving, they put down the video games, turn off the TV and dive into a mysterious world of exotic plants and animals. Furthermore, the physical activity will help their bodies grow strong and their minds become disciplined.
Masks are often the first piece of scuba equipment that a child is introduced to. With just a good fitting mask, a kid can explore the underwater world close to the shore.
The mask must fit comfortably and snuggly on the child's face or water will seep in around the edges, causing him or her to feel uncertain about how scuba gear can help them remain safe and have fun under water.
Mask are made of rubber, silicone and neoprene. It is important to try on several masks to allow the child to learn that each one will fit and feel different. Help your child find a mask that fits perfectly and feels soft and snug on his face.
To find a good-fitting mask, have the child place the mask over his eyes and nose without putting the head strap behind his head. Brush his hair back so that it doesn't interfere with the seal between his face and mask. Instruct the child to breath in through his nose and hold his breath for a few seconds. If the mask fits his face well, it should stay in place for a few seconds without being held with his hand. If the seal is not good, there will be no suction when he breaths in, so try a different mask.
The strap that holds the mask on the child's head should be adjustable and comfortable. A popular style is the wide split strap because it conforms to the back of the head and feels more secure.
The traditional, stick-like snorkel is often the second piece of scuba equipment the child learns to use. This simple snorkel attaches to the strap of the mask, allowing the child to swim along the surface of the water with his eyes facing downward while breathing through the snorkel.
With practice, he will learn to swim for a few seconds under the water with his mask and snorkel. He will do this by placing his tongue into the snorkel's mouthpiece and going under water. Even if the entire snorkel is underwater, he is keeping the water from entering his mouth. When he surfaces, he blows the water out of his snorkel and continues to swim along the surface while watching the world below him.
When the child masters this technique and can swim under water and surface repeatedly with ease, his confidence and poise in the water will have grown tremendously.
Fins can be introduced once the kid is proficient with the mask and snorkel. The child will feel powerful as he zooms through the water while wearing fins. At the outset, care must be taken that the child does not stray too far from adults since the fins allow him to travel further distances in a shorter period of time.
In order to enjoy the sport of scuba diving, kids need equipment that fit them well and feel comfortable. You wouldn't put a size 12 shoe on a 10-year-old boy. Just as on land, footwear should fit well and cause no damage to the tender skin on the child's feet.
Fins not only help the child propel faster through the water, they also help to build strong leg muscles.
There are two basic types of fins to choose from:
* Full foot fins
* Open heal fins
Full foot fins are the most popular. They feel more snug and secure on the feet. When walking on the shore or on the bottom of the ocean or lake, the heel is not exposed because the entire bottom of the child's foot is covered.
The open-back fin often comes with an adjustable heel strap. This is convenient and economical for fast-growing feet. However, the heel is exposed when walking with these fins, so if there may be sharp objects that can cut the heel, this might not be the right choice. Also, take care that the strap is comfortable and snug on the back of the heel.
BC's or BCD's
BC stands for buoyancy compensator. BCD stands for buoyancy control device. This piece of scuba diving equipment helps the person maintain the proper level of buoyancy. It's a life-saving device that helps you ascend, descend and float on the surface, similar to a life jacket.
If the diver wants to stay on the surface of the water or float up from the sea floor, he wants more buoyancy. If he wants to descend into the water, he wants less buoyancy. When maintaining a certain depth, the buoyancy is made neutral.
The level of buoyancy is controlled by the amount of air in the BCD's inflatable bladder. The bladder can be filled in two ways:
* From the air tank through the regulator
* From the diver's mouth through an inflation valve (a backup safety feature)
When the diver wants less buoyancy, air can be released from the bladder using a vent valve. There are usually two vent valves - one on the top to the BCD and one on the bottom. Additionally, there is an over-pressure relief valve that automatically operates when the bladder is overfilled or when the diver is ascending.
BCDs also have a place to fit the air cylinder as well as pockets for weights. It is designed with clips to keep air hoses in place and prevent tangling.
A child must wear a BCD designed for person of his height and weight. Shoulder, sternum and waist straps should fit well and cross the body in the proper place. There should be easy-to-operate squeeze-type buckles so that the child can get his own BCD on and off.
The jacket-style BCD is the most popular type for children. The BCD should be durable and easy to operate. For safety, it should have clear marking on the shoulders for adults and diving buddies to see easily.
Wetsuits hold a small film of water between the suit and your child's skin. His body warms the water, which then acts as an insulation layer. This keeps him from being overly affected by cold water or harsh changes in temperature.
Wetsuits are designed to be flexible so that the child can move comfortably both in the water and onshore. Short sleeve wetsuits increase the child's arm mobility.
Although originally invented for cold water diving, there are now wetsuits designed for warmer water. Sometimes called a shorty, this style has short sleeves and short pants. It goes over the child's regular swim suit and act as protection barrier for the child's skin where the BCD is secured to his torso.
In cold water, the warm water shorty can be used over any full one-piece wetsuit to give an extra layer of thermal protection.
Wetsuits are made of a wide variety of materials, such as nylon neoprene or lycra skin. They also come in various thicknesses. Before choosing a wetsuit for your child, investigate the benefits of each wetsuit and be sure the wetsuit is designed for the diving environment your child will be experiencing.
Scuba diving can be an exciting and challenging sport. There is a lot to learn to dive safely but with so many experienced divers enjoying this sport, you can always find an instructor who will teach your child the best way to go.
To increase the child's enjoyment and chances for success in this sport, choose the best equipment you can afford. Always see that the mask, fins, wetsuit and BCD fit correctly as he grows. When needed, upgrade to a larger size or a better model. If scuba equipment is well cared for, it can be sold or passed down to a smaller person.
There is a whole world of wonder to be explored beneath the surface of the ocean, lake or pond. Consider opening this world to your children and watch their knowledge and enthusiasm for healthy fun grow deep.