Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Scuba As A Hobby

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This is a guest post from Surya, my favorite middle schooler!

Scuba diving is like escaping into a different, underwater world. Once you are certified, you can go anywhere in the world and dive.

If you think you might like scuba diving the first thing to do is to try it. Most diving centers have “try scuba” classes that take place in a pool with professional divers to help you try it. If you like it, then there are several parts of your certification.

You need to be 13 years old to do a PADI class, which I did, but if you are 10 – 12 years old you can sign up for a “traditional” class at a local dive center. If you do a PADI class, you will have to read a book, see some movies, and take tests to make sure you understand the information.

Some of the things you need to be able to do correctly and safely are controlled swimming ascents, buddy breathing in case you or a buddy are out of oxygen, which should not happen if you pay attention, and knowing how to properly weight yourself in fresh and salt water.

Once you know the information, then there are at least two pool dives, a swimming test, and finally four ocean dives (in one weekend) to make sure you are safe, can navigate in poor visibility conditions, and can do everything correctly and safely under water without perfect conditions.

You can rent much of the equipment, but you will need your own mask, fins and snorkel. When you go to try on wet suits, do it on a cool day – I got blisters trying mine on during the summer! Wet suits should be hard to get on because they have to fit you tightly or you will be cold under the water because of the loss of heat, which causes hypothermia.

The other parts of the gear that you will wear while scuba diving include:

Buoyancy Control Device (BCD): holds your oxygen tank and weights, as well as inflates and deflates, so you can float on the surface, even wearing all of your gear.
Regulator: this is the thing that goes in your mouth and gives you oxygen.
Cylinder/oxygen tank: holds about 4,000 psi, which lasts a different amount of time depending on the depth of your dive.
Wet (or dry) suit: A wet suit is lets a thin layer of water in, which your body will heat and a dry suit goes over a set of really warm pajama-like clothes and your skin stays dry.
Hood: keeps your head warm.
Gloves: protect your hands from sharp objects and keeps them warm, too.
Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG): the diver how much air pressure is left in an air tank.
Alternate air source: also called an octopus, it is a second regulator that you will use if your buddy runs out of air.
Compass: points north and helps you find your way if the visibility is bad.
Dive computer/watch: shows you how deep you are and some plan your dive depending on how deep you are and tell you how much time you have left on a dive.

Photo credit: Ed Bierman
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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