If I had to recommend one scuba diving book that every recreational and newly-certified diver should read, it would be "Diver Down" by Michael R. Ange. These days, the focus of the dive industry seems to be on encouraging people to become scuba divers. Bookshelves are filled with adventure stories of shipwreck explorations, cave diving, and the incredible variety of wildlife found in oceans. "Diver Down" is not one of those books.
Accident Analysis for Recreational Scuba Divers
"Diver Down" address a subject sorely under-represented in scuba diving publications -- that of accident analysis. In most adventure sports, any accidents causing death or injury are carefully studied with the goal of preventing future accidents. This is also true in scuba diving; however, most accident analysis publications available to the public focus on technical diving, not on recreational diving. "Diver Down" looks at recreational diving accidents, explains the series of events leading up to the accident, and provides tips to prevent divers from repeating the unfortunate divers' errors.
An Informative, Rather Than Frightening, Read
This sounds like a terrible, scary book, but it's not! Nor is the aim of the book to place blame on divers for stupid mistakes or errors in judgement. To responsible divers interested in safety and accident prevention, "Diver Down" is a fascinating read. Divers will recognize common behaviors that lead to scuba diving accidents, perhaps even behaviors that they have been lucky enough to get away with in the past.
Common Causes of Scuba Accidents
Common causes of scuba diving accidents include a diver's failure to stay current (or refreshed) with his dive and emergency management skills, a diver engaging in dives beyond his level of training, and experienced divers ignoring the advice of divemasters and locals in a new dive location. The book also addresses psychological causes of accidents such as peer pressure and ego. One of the most interesting revelations of "Diver Down" is that most accidents are caused by multiple problems or errors in judgment which snowball into a critical situation. The majority of dive accidents discussed in the book could have been prevented if the diver involved had ended the dive after the first problem.
Scuba Diving Books:
• "The Silent World" by Jack Cousteau and F. Dumas
• "Caverns Measureless to Man" by Sheck Exley
• "Diving into Darkness" by Phillip Finch
Easy Reference Material for Scuba Divers
"Diver Down" also includes multiple asides providing in depth information on topics such as the risks of overhead diving, the use of nitrox or trimix, the difference between various certification levels, and other valuable subjects that many recreational divers do not have easy access to.
Recommended for Both Experienced and Novice Divers
While "Diver Down" might not promote the popular concept that diving is always "safe, easy and fun" it does promote safe diving. Only by learning from mistakes, both our own and those of others, can we avoid repeating them. This safety-oriented, candid look at diving accidents is well-written and insightful, and if taken seriously, can help to prevent unnecessary mistakes which may lead to scuba diving injuries and deaths. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!