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  Scuba diving

What is scuba diving?

Scuba diving lets you discover the submarine world with the aid of specific equipment (wetsuits, oxygen tanks, etc.) Snorkelling is a simpler means to explore what lies below the sea’s surface, using only fins, a mask, and a snorkel.

In both cases, it is best to be accompanied by professionals from a scuba diving club or centre. They know where the best sites are and they will ensure your safety. Scuba diving clubs are principally associated with an international organisation called PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), whose diving regulations and standards are referenced around the world. Certified instructors are true marine professionals. They manage and supervise scuba diving sessions and ensure their complete safety. Supervision is the same everywhere regardless of the structure. 

The classes teach you how to prevent basic risks while diving, but also teach you what you need to know about tides, currents, marine flora and fauna and the characteristics of each region.

Some practical advice

Most scuba diving accidents are not due to ignored illnesses or ailments, but rather the result of divers who overestimate their physical condition and dive “’dangerously”.  For total peace of mind while you’re diving, following these practical recommendations: 

  • Even if you are in excellent shape,  meet with your doctor before deciding to pursue your scuba diving adventure.
  • Before leaving, design an easy “ get in shape” programme. 
  • Before your first lesson, get comfortable with an aquatic environment (swim, look under water) to rid yourself of any apprehension and anxiety. Be sure you are motivated by the activity itself and not because you feel pressure from those around you. As soon as you’re in the water, it is critical that you follow all safety and security measure that your instructor has explained throughout the lessons. 
  • You must wear a wetsuit that fulfils a double function: thermal insulation (you may get very cold, even if you’re in warm, tropical waters) and protection from flora, fauna and sharp formations such as coral reefs.  Choose a complete, comfortably fitting set of equipment adapted to your needs (mask, belt…). When you’re under water, breathe normally without trying to save on oxygen. 
  • Pressure is fundamental when practicing this sport, and divers feels its effect particularly on the eardrums; it’s important to consider the time it takes for the pressure to equalize, during both the descent and the ascent back to the surface. To do this, breathe slowly and frequently pinch your nose during the descent before your ears begin to bother you. Respect the different decompression levels during your swim back to the surface. Attention! Do not scuba dive at all for a period of 24 hours before getting on a plane (36 hours for repetitive dives or deep sea diving) or before starting a high-altitude mountain walk. It could be very dangerous if you do not respect this time delay. 
  • To prevent a possible inflammation of your ear canal, limit your use of Q-tips or ear-cleaning rinses. In case of otitis, consult your doctor who will prescribe the appropriate treatment. Divers who are particularly susceptible to these kinds of problems should strictly observe the preventive measures their doctors recommend. 
  • If a diving accident occurs, follow the instructor’s instructions to the letter; he/she knows best about the local conditions and the manoeuvres to carry out in such situations.  
  • If you are  snorkelling (swimming with a mask, fins and snorkel), don’t forget to wear a tee-shirt and sun cream. Don’t try to cover great distances and remove your snorkel from time to time to catch your breath and fully ventilate your lungs. Do not dive repeatedly while holding your breath and without a partner. And be sure to take adequate rests between dives. 
  • If you have any problems whilst travelling, don’t wait until you get home to consult a doctor. Allianz Global Assistance’s emergency medical team is available to discuss any questions or doubts you may have about your health. We can provide useful advice and organize a consultation wherever you are.

Who can do it?

Generally speaking, you do not need to be particularly athletic or even a good swimmer to scuba dive. However, children must be at least 8 years old, and all potential divers must be in good health, fairly physically fit, and women should not dive if they are pregnant.  First time scuba diving requires a medical certificate.

However, illnesses or health deficiencies that might be relatively harmless “on land” can lead to serious consequences underwater. It is therefore  essential to consult your doctor before leaving. He/she will also be able to tell you whether or not this activity is compatible with any prescribed treatment you have been following before your trip. Treatment for malaria is authorised as long as the treatment does not cause side effects. However, sedatives, sleeping medication and strong analgesics are incompatible with scuba diving.

Children can scuba dive from 8 years old, as long as they have well-adapted equipment and are in an appropriate environment (warm water, easy place to dive, etc.). They should also limit their dives to one per day.  Beyond their parents’ motivation and most importantly, children should have a genuine desire of their own to want to learn to scuba dive.

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Allianz Global Assistance Travel Insurance is underwritten by AWP P&C S.A. - Dutch Branch, trading as Allianz Global Assistance Europe with offices at Poeldijkstraat 4, 1059 VM Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Registered at the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) Nº 12000535, Corporate Identification no 33094603

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