Scuba diving is a safe and enjoyable sport. We get to explore and experience areas that only a handful of people can. Like others, all certified divers have heard the statement “Plan your Dive and Dive Your Plan” or a similar version of this critical planning process. Why is this statement and others like it essential to an enjoyable and uneventful dive? Let’s take a little peek into dive planning.

Diving and life are all about Risk Management. The key is to correctly identify the risks and mitigate them to a manageable level. This is an expansive topic; many theories and books have been published. So, let’s look at the basics of Risk Management in our recreational diving.

To start, we will break it down in a basic form to look at how and why we can have a safe and enjoyable dive.


Let’s look at the planning process.

  1. Who are we diving with?

Diving is much more enjoyable when diving with the same buddy or group of buddies. When we dive with someone, trust can be built over time. This trust is essential, as it allows us to interact with each other positively. The trust factor must not interrupt the important parts of dive planning and the dive. For example, cutting corners in the pre-dive checks or briefing because we trust each other. How do you know if your dive buddy is having a bad day?

  • Do you and your buddy have the proper experience, training, and mindset for the dive?
  • Do you and your buddy have the proper equipment for a safe and enjoyable dive?
    • For example, thermal protection for depth, lights, float/flag.
    • Pre-Dive Checks – Begin-With-Review-And-Friend or Big-White-Rabbits-Are-Fuzzy.
  • Do you or your buddy know the dive site?
    • Location
    • Underwater profile
    • Mode of entry and exit
  1. What are we going to do on the dive?
  • What is the objective(s) of the dive?
    • What are the entry and exit points?
    • What is our max depth and time?
    • Do you have a turnaround or end-of-dive tank pressure?
  • Are we prepared to achieve what we are setting out to accomplish?
  • What is our emergency plan and equipment?
  • Separated from our buddy?
  • Injury or illness response? Level of training?
  1. Where is the dive going to happen?
  • Lake or river?
  • Shore or Boat Dive?
  • What is our emergency equipment and plan?
  • Separated from our buddy?
    • Visibility, current etc.
  • What resources are available? How do we access them?
  1. When is the dive occurring?
  • Are there hazards we need to deal with?
    • Boat traffic?
    • Weather?
    • Water conditions? Spring diving in Saskatchewan – warm weather and cold water.

The Debrief

Lastly and most importantly, after the dive, have an honest debrief of the dive.

  • What happened or nearly happened that could have impacted our safety?
  • What did we get from it? Experience?
  • What not to do next time?
  • What skills do I need to work on?
  • More importantly, did we discuss what we could improve with our dive buddies?
  • Can we build what we need to learn into the next dive, or do we need pool time or an instructor-led course?

All divers must remember that life, particularly diving, is full of risks. The more tools we can use to communicate these risks and plan for and train for them, the better off we will be. Always take information and think it through critically, and never stop your scuba diving education. Don’t be afraid to look into the Dive Planning process more and use your critical thinking hat to work through the dive planning process.

Dive Planning


For more information on risk mitigation, look at the following.

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