Divers must always keep in mind that the deeper they are, the faster they are going through their air.
The chart above explains several things as they pertain to scuba diving. For the topic of running out of air we will look at a specific example. Three friends who have not been scuba diving for a couple of years, decide to get back into it. After a quick refresher and going over the gear, equalizing, signals, what we may see, our dive profile and the whole pre-dive stuff we head over to the dive site. Each diver has his own dive computer and is keeping within the no-decompression limits for the respective depth. The max depth for the dive was set to 70 feet. Among the divers, one kept swimming around and staying close to the max depth. The result of this was having to come from the dive within 40 minutes. The amount of air left in the tanks were; 1200 psi for one diver, 1100 for the other and 500 for I’m going to swim all over and stay deeper longer. They were all friends and the dive was good, but they were hoping for a 60+ minute dive. Ok, so the diver didn’t run out of air, in terms of zero, but we are not really going to let someone get to no air. Call it that 500 is running out of air as far as we are concerned. How can we help our dive buddy get to enjoy a longer dive.
Relax when you dive
If you are diving along with the current, there is little need to be constantly kicking. Try gliding with the current. For those who are not properly weighted they sometimes feel as if they need to constantly kick so as not to keep sinking. One way to reach the relaxed zone is to have the right amount of weight. That means you rise slightly as you inhale and descend slightly as you descend. You are neutrally buoyant in the water. Once you are properly weighted and don’t feel as you are sinking or floating to the surface for that matter, you will be able to relax. One tip is to try to pause between kicks. So, kick and glide. The more you kick the more air you will need.
Think about doing some sprints. After several, you will end up huffing and puffing. Perhaps you will end up with your hands on your needs while you catch your breath. Now have a tank and reg provided while you are breathing heavily. The amount of air required to get back to a slow breathing rate will be high and you may also feel air starved. The moment you feel as if you are not getting enough air from the reg, may in turn lead to panic. Wait a second, we are supposed to be relaxed here. Stop constantly kicking and slow down. Your air consumption will get better by doing so. Instead of sprinting, walk with several pauses along the way. Doing so will also help you find amazing critters which live on the reef and fall under the macro finds.
So not that you are relaxed, remember that the deeper you are, the faster you are going through your air. At 20 meters it’s as if you are taking 3 breaths compared to if you were at the surface. You are breathing denser air at 20 meters than at the surface. If you use a lot of air, stay shallower than the rest of the group. If our max depth is 70 feet, try staying at 55 and then multilevel to a shallower depth as the group comes up. With more dives you will slowly get better as experience breeds confidence which in turns helps you relax while diving.
Bottom line is to get properly weighted, slow down, and stay shallower.
Check out DAN’s Smart Guide to Air Consumption
And our latest YouTube clip of West End Wall