At Kids of the Wild we love wildlife, the coast, the beach and all that the ocean has to offer. We’ve all seen Blue Planet II and know just how stunning marine life can be but few of us learn the skills to get into the water to spot sea life up close.
My series of articles on Things to Do at The Beach continues with this excellent balanced post from Troy Mayne (whose turtle photo you may know from my plastic pollution post & Greenpeace marketing) on the delights AND the dangers of scuba diving with children.
So welcome Troy. Over to you!
“Scuba Diving itself is one of the safest adventurous sports available, it allows humans to delve into a world that has hardly been discovered.
More people have been to the moon that have been to the deepest part of the ocean, more is known about space, than our oceans, yet our world is covered by over 70% of water!
Why Do We Dive?
People dive for many reasons. Here are a few: –
- To be with nature
- Treasure hunting
Whatever the reason it is an escape from our terrestrial world in to the marine world. There are so many different skills, courses and activities to be done, and every dive is always so different that it is difficult to become bored with diving.
Scuba Diving is a safe sport, but to ignore the inherent risks is dangerous. Diving is safe because of the strict rules and professional courses governed by years of experience and Diving Associations that promote its safety, so do not be frightened of what is to follow, Scuba Diving if conducted correctly is a very safe sport.
Child Scuba Diving Health & Safety
Children have been diving for many years. However, children and diving is a very contentious issue within the Scuba World. Potentially it is much more dangerous for children, however the facts actually state differently. From a physiological point of view (how it affects the body) we do not know how diving affects children if it does at all. There is no medical evidence that suggests that there are any impacts at all, mainly because there has been little study in that area.
The main potential issue is with the developing body and possible interference with a child’s development due to the pressure that water exerts on the body. It is also possible that undeveloped organs may negatively respond to Scuba Diving. Again there is no scientific proof to support these issues yet, but they may well be a valid concern.
Is Your Wild Child Ready Yet?
The biggest issue is the individual maturity of a child to deal with the stress and responsibility of diving. However the statistics actually indicate that there are less incidents, injury and death in children diving than in adults. This is because children must be accompanied by an adult or an instructor when they dive. So at this particular time evidence suggests there is no detriment to children diving.
Medical Check for Kids
It is very strongly advised that all children who wish to conduct Scuba Diving do a recreational Dive Medical with an Authorized Dive Physician prior to the commencement of any initial Scuba Program. There are many medical conditions that prevent participation in Scuba and are very dangerous to a potential diver.
Children’s Scuba Diving Course Guidelines
I have been an instructor for over 20 years and have taken numerous children diving. They are by far the easiest to train out of all various groups I have taken. I have enjoyed training children far more than any other group. They are more enthusiastic, adventurous, coordinated, and learning-orientated than most adults. This is natural, as adults generally have been out of the learning sphere for a while. Children also have less fear, and fear can be a problem if it is not managed correctly.
Diving From 8 Years Old
Children are able to experience Scuba Diving as early as 8 years old under strict guidance from an instructor and must be: –
- through experience programs
- in enclosed pools
- under very strict and controlled circumstances
- to a maximum depth of 2 metres or 6 feet
Junior Open Water Certification Aged 10 or 12
Certain Scuba Training Agencies allow the training of children at the basic open water diver level at the age of ten. This is a general rule as some countries have specified by law that the minimum age is 12. At ten or twelve depending on local laws, a child can begin Junior Open Water certification.
The Junior Open Water course is exactly the same as for adults and takes up to four days, depending on the number of participants and how the the theory is conducted. Theory is quite involved taking a full day to complete with an exam at the end. There are many skills involved that are first conducted in a pool, then once mastered, in the open water or ocean. Again there are strict rules for children: –
- parental consent
- 200m swimming test
- Tread water for 10 minutes
- upon certification a child must be accompanied by an Instructor until they are 11. If they were 12 when they started, then they must be accompanied by an adult
- Maximum depth allowed is 12 metres until they are 14 years old. (18 metres is the maximum for an adult open water diver). At 15 years of age restrictions are lifted and then become same as for an adult diver
Scuba With School
Many schools get involved in Scuba experience and course programs during holidays and excursions. This is a good opportunity for children to learn Scuba in a safe environment with fellow students and friends. Discounts normally occur for group bookings such as these.
Well Worth The Risks
Diving with compressed air in a wild natural environment has real risks. People do die diving, as do with many sports and hobbies. In just about every single case it is diver fault. The risks are real, very real, and the consequences are dire. But these risks are reduced with proper dive training, from a certified instructor. Following the rules of Scuba will provide years of amazing underwater experiences, like I have enjoyed on many thousands of dives over 25 plus years.”
Thank you Troy!
Having done my Open Water Course in Mexico many years ago I can’t wait for Caroline to snorkel with me, and if she’s up for it, scuba diving together would be incredible.
Kids can always try goggling before snorkeling. Never heard of it? Find out more in goggling, the new snorkeling for kids.
Learn to Scuba Dive in the UK – links and information
British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC)
UK Diving Locations
Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)
I have also just discovered Deptherapy, a fantastic charity providing scuba for seriously injured serving and veteran members of the British Armed Forces.