Overcome Your Scuba Diving Fears: #3 Running Out Of Air

25 Aug 2021

To a beginner scuba diver, the concept of descending metres and metres underwater with only the air in their tank and being reliant upon equipment in order to breathe is scary. Fears of running out of air can make people so anxious that either they never try diving in the first place or increase their breathing to such a rate that running low on air sooner than they should becomes a real possibility!

– The first piece of advice we have is to relax! We know this sounds easy to do but, by relaxing and focusing on the incredible surroundings you will naturally slow your breathing to a normal rate – diving is not meant to be a stressful activity.

– Check your air gauge, also called a submersible pressure gauge (SPG), but don’t spend your entire dive with your eyes glued to it – you jumped in to see the marine life, you don’t want to miss turtles and mantas. A good rule of thumb is to ascend to your safety stop when you reach 50 bar remaining in your tank but this will depend on the dive plan and advice of your guide. Communicate the amount of air you have left with your buddy. Let them know when you reach 100 bar and then again at 50 bar. Ask them to do the same and always ascend together according to the person who reaches the reserve amount first. End the dive with at least 30 bar left in your tank – this will ensure that you have enough for the surface if conditions require you to keep you regulator in your mouth.

– Trust your training. On your Open Water Diver Course you will have learned how to use your buddy’s octopus air (spare regulator) should your air run out. This is a great reason to stick with your buddy – they are your back plan! If you need to use your buddy’s octopus, the air in their tank will obviously be consumed twice as quickly so never continue the dive in this way, proceed to the safety stop in a calm manner and end the dive.

– If the worst happens and your air supply suddenly runs out, and your buddy is nowhere to be seen, carryout out a Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (CESA) as you practised in your training, remembering to continuously exhale all the way up, then inflate your BCD manually as soon as you reach the surface before signalling for the boat.

– If you haven’t dived for a while, book a Scuba Tune-Up so you can practice your skills with an instructor – this will help build your confidence and make your dives more enjoyable.

– The PADI Rescue Diver Course is a fantastic way of building your confidence too, you learn not only how to deal with emergencies involving other divers but lots of self-rescue techniques too. All scenarios practiced are highly unlikely to occur if you follow the procedures taught in your Open Water Diver Course but, knowing that you could deal with a problem if it occurs, gives you a massive boost.