What This Accident Taught Me About Scuba Diving Safety

I’ve been a scuba diver for more than a decade, and there’s a common expression all divers use: “Plan your dive and dive your plan.” It means exactly that: Map out the details of your dive—from equipment to location, depth, and time—and then follow that to the letter. As I write this, I’m two weeks out from a recent trip to Grenada, an island in the Caribbean West Indies, where I had my first—and, hopefully, last—diving accident.

Here’s the recap: I had been struggling with my mask fogging up the entire trip, an issue I’d had on previous dive vacations. But instead of taking preemptive action to fix the problem, I blew it off. Big mistake. After many frustrating mid-dive mask clearings, the strap finally snapped, and I found myself in need of immediate underwater assistance. As the mask started filling with water, I held it over my face in a vain attempt to see and tried to get my husband’s attention. I noticed he was clutching some trash he’d found on the sea floor and was planning to bring back to the surface to throw out, as divers are an eco-conscious bunch. To alert him that he needed his hands free to help me, I tried to snatch the object away. I couldn’t quite tell what it was: Turns out it was a broken porcelain coffee mug that was razor-sharp. I cut two fingers badly and had to make an emergency ascent. The rest of the story involves a lot of yelling by me—”It’s not your f*&*ing job to clean up the ocean!!!”—and a trip to a local hospital to stop the bleeding. (Fun fact: The color red appears green underwater, an image I won’t soon forget.) In the end, I was fine.

Truth be told, though, I got lazy. I love diving, but I don’t love the equipment and science, and sometimes I don’t treat it seriously enough. It requires perfectly functioning gear to become amphibious. When I took stock after all the drama subsided, I knew I had only myself to blame. I needed to own this sport and be more proactive and engaged. (Too scared to get in the water?…

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