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Diving Safety, Accidents and Incidents Post here to discuss accidents, incidents, ideas, gear, or anything else to improve spearfishing safety. Memorials and condolences threads should be placed in that separate forum.

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Old 03-26-2017, 08:19 AM   #1
blitzemall
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Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

I've had enough of watching all the amazing videos and have decided to make this the year I go beyond light snorkeling and have a go at some spearfishing.

Of course, with a family and a general desire to stay alive a bit longer, I'd like to stay safe as I begin this journey.

I plan to enroll in a FD course and follow all safety protocol including diving with companions.

But I see so much about SWB I can't help but feel a bit concerned about the odds as I move forward into deeper water.

So I've decided to keep it light and try to keep my dives shorter and shallower as a rule.

My question is: given the fact that I'm in good physical shape and intend to follow safety measures combined with the above, can this sport be made "safe" from SWB?
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Old 03-26-2017, 08:37 AM   #2
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

This sport can be made safer than ever from SWB. Knowledge is the key. There's more knowledge regarding SWB than there ever has been. When I think of the many friends I've lost to SWB every one of them was breaking the basic rules which you will learn in that FD course.
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Old 03-26-2017, 10:38 AM   #3
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

Here is my 5 step advice for mitigating the risk of SWB. I am a newbie with a 2 year headstart on you. Five years from now I will still be a newbie. It's just that type of sport.

1. Start by reading the article which will put everything in perspective. At least it did for me. When Navy seals are dieing, while training, with buddies all around, it should be an eye opener.


LIMITING FREEDIVES TO 60 SECONDS FOR SAFETY

A PROPOSED 60 SECOND LIMIT FOR BREATH-HOLD DIVING

by CAPT Frank K. Butler, MC, USN
Command Surgeon United States Special Operations Command
MacDill AFB, FL, USA

2. Take a freedive course.

3. Find a dive buddy.

4. Look into the frv - free dive recovery vest.

5. Have a great freedive watch, with audible alarms etc.

Do as I say and not as I do! I typically dive alone, with no frv or watch and have come to the conclusion that I must follow my own safety plan or find a different sport. Good luck!
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Old 03-27-2017, 12:29 PM   #4
blitzemall
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

Excellent read! So it looks like 60 seconds would be a safe ceiling to work with. I'm assuming that it is enough time for a fair shake at hunting?
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Old 03-27-2017, 01:26 PM   #5
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

You can black out in 60 seconds if surface intervals are too short, if heart rate is too high or if oxygen is too low for other reasons. .
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Old 03-27-2017, 03:17 PM   #6
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

I'm glad you are looking for advice and trying to be safe. I know that the 60 second guide line has been promoted by some respected people, but I personally place very little value in it.

I've been freediving for a long time. In some situations and for some people a one minute dive is ridiculously conservative.

To put things in perspective, a lot of my hunting dives are less than 45 seconds - kinda weak really.

It is supper important that you understand that predive rest and condition are much more important than dive time.

Similarly, your activity level during the dive is also more important than an arbitrary total dive time.

If you are cold, tired, and working to hold position over a dive site in a current and then you dive with too little surface rest and follow that up with a wrestling match with a fish... 50 seconds could easily be too long for many people, myself included.

Rest time on the surface between dives and elapsed dive time ARE important parameters, but they aren't everything.

Don't make the false assumption that a 55 second dive is safe! Especially for something as variable as spearfishing.
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Old 04-12-2017, 07:32 AM   #7
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

Quote:
Originally Posted by blitzemall View Post
Excellent read! So it looks like 60 seconds would be a safe ceiling to work with. I'm assuming that it is enough time for a fair shake at hunting?
Take a class. The newer you are, the greater the value it'll have for you.

Having said that, my dives (30ffw on average) are usually between 40 and 50 seconds long. One minute, in that context, would be a fine target for hunting.

But add 2 things to that loose rule;
1) make sure you're up twice as long as you're down. You probably won't be making 60 sec dives to start, honestly. If you were, make sure you spend 2 minutes on the surface between dives, breathing up and relaxing.
2) pay attention to your body. If you're fighting contractions, or if your head is getting swimmy, or you are getting tunnel vision, or "things don't feel right", call it for the day or back off a bit if you're pushing yourself.
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Old 04-17-2017, 11:38 AM   #8
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

Quote:
Originally Posted by blitzemall View Post
I've had enough of watching all the amazing videos and have decided to make this the year I go beyond light snorkeling and have a go at some spearfishing.

Of course, with a family and a general desire to stay alive a bit longer, I'd like to stay safe as I begin this journey.

I plan to enroll in a FD course and follow all safety protocol including diving with companions.

But I see so much about SWB I can't help but feel a bit concerned about the odds as I move forward into deeper water.

So I've decided to keep it light and try to keep my dives shorter and shallower as a rule.

My question is: given the fact that I'm in good physical shape and intend to follow safety measures combined with the above, can this sport be made "safe" from SWB?
The safest the sport can be made is if you dive with a trained buddy and follow procedures that you would learn at a legit freediving course (an $80 PADI course is not legit). You would learn self rescue techniques as well as buddy rescue techniques. Following those procedures, you would be as close to 100% safe as you can be... In the history of modern (last 20 years) competitive, constant weight freediving around the world--we're talking thousands and thousands of drops to literally hundreds of feet (the current CWT record is OVER 400')--we have had ONE fatality but thousands of SWB's. I knew that diver and how he died; the safety protocols and competition rules have since been amended and in the light of knowledge since gained we look at his final dive profiles think, 'RIP, brother, and WTF were you thinking???'.

When you add situations which can arise in spearfishing such as: dangerous/rocky entries, poor visibility, stormy conditions, currents, extreme fatigue, hypothermia, overhead environments, recovering with big angry fish that can breathe underwater, darkness, underwater structure, entanglement, inattentive or untrained buddies, etc, risks go up and up and up.

Take a good course with a knowledgable, experienced instructor. You can learn the facts and management of SWB incidents; there is a lot of dumb stuff and incomplete information on the internet. I teach the PFI program now in Los Angeles, http://www.socalspearit.com/freedive-classes
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Old 04-18-2017, 10:40 AM   #9
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

Lots of great suggestions here.

I find it interesting that anytime someone finds out that I freedive/spearfish the first two questions they ask are: How long can you hold your breath and how deep can you go? To these questions I almost always say "I don't know". Besides getting hit by a boat, improving the answer to these questions can get you killed faster than just about anything. My suggestion to a beginner diver would be to enjoy the process. Don't hurry to the depths. Be amazed by the world around you and be aware of your need to breath. As you get more comfortable larger fish will suddenly appear in front of you. Most of the game fish I have shot have been 20 feet or less from the surface.
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Old 04-18-2017, 06:26 PM   #10
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

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Originally Posted by Castor View Post
Lots of great suggestions here.

I find it interesting that anytime someone finds out that I freedive/spearfish the first two questions they ask are: How long can you hold your breath and how deep can you go? To these questions I almost always say "I don't know". Besides getting hit by a boat, improving the answer to these questions can get you killed faster than just about anything. My suggestion to a beginner diver would be to enjoy the process. Don't hurry to the depths. Be amazed by the world around you and be aware of your need to breath. As you get more comfortable larger fish will suddenly appear in front of you. Most of the game fish I have shot have been 20 feet or less from the surface.
It's a good idea for anyone to take it slow, and it's true that in California gamefish can be taken in a welcoming kelp bed in 20' of water (we're fantastically lucky in that), but seeking answers to the question of 'how deep can I go' or 'how long can I hold my breath' does not need to be dangerous under qualified supervision, and is certainly less dangerous than assuming that you and all your dive habits are safe because you never dive more than X feet or more than X seconds...

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Old 04-19-2017, 06:54 AM   #11
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

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Originally Posted by growingupninja View Post
It's a good idea for anyone to take it slow, and it's true that in California gamefish can be taken in a welcoming kelp bed in 20' of water (we're fantastically lucky in that), but seeking answers to the question of 'how deep can I go' or 'how long can I hold my breath' does not need to be dangerous under qualified supervision, and is certainly less dangerous than assuming that you and all your dive habits are safe because you never dive more than X feet or more than X seconds...

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That's a really good point. "Not dead yet" doesn't mean smart. I really need to take a class myself.
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Old 04-19-2017, 07:43 AM   #12
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Re: Mitigating Risk For Complete Noob

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That's a really good point. "Not dead yet" doesn't mean smart. I really need to take a class myself.
'Qualified supervision' usually means class but for divers so inclined you can push limits in competition as well, I was definitely in the minority on this but I had been competing and even winning (weird word to me when it comes to freediving) for years before I ever took a class, although I certainly sought out and considered advice from a variety of knowledable sources, and had great training partners and safeties.

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