A Review of Best Practices

Here are the essential steps of a pre-dive routine that will help you stay within your limits:

  • Plan your dive within your NDL. Set the maximum depth you will not cross and the time you will not exceed. Share it with your buddy and dive your plan.
  • Avoid exertion. If you start feeling out of breath, then rest. Consider ascending to a shallower depth if the site permits it.
  • Heed your training. Choose a dive site or destination that matches your diving skills and experience.
  • Assess the dive site’s conditions and hazards. Plan your dive accordingly and be ready to adapt if conditions change. If they appear too challenging, sit out the dive.
  • Ask yourself if you are feeling 100%. If not, skip the dive and take a rest.
  • Limit your exposure at depth. You cannot modify the effects of nitrogen narcosis or oxygen toxicity, but you can avoid them.
  • Manage your anxiety. Anyone can become anxious, but safe divers learn to recognize when anxiety is manageable and when they may have to sit a dive out.

Once you’re in the water, be sure to regularly check your dive computer and your tank pressure gauge. They will tell you your depth, dive time, and remaining NDL time plus the amount of air in your tank — information critical to your safety. The closer you are to the limits you established before the dive, the more often you should monitor your instruments.

By regularly reviewing these limitations and practicing the skills that help you stay within them, you’re much more likely to surface safely. Diving should be fun, so keep your stress level in check by staying within your limits.