Diving is a great sport, especially for people who love to travel. However, if you have not dived in a long time, it’s advisable for you to take a scuba diving refresher course. The course will help you resharpen your skills and knowledge about diving. You will now be ready to dive again with everything fresh in your mind. In this blog, we will discuss why you should reconsider taking a refresher course and how the course works.
What is a Scuba Diving Refresher Course?
A so-called scuba diving refresher course is a short course designed to remind divers of their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. These are essential to participating in recreational diving activities safely.
The instructor will firstly review and refresh theoretical topics required by regulations, such as:
- The basic rules (for instance, never stop breathing)
- The effects of depth and pressure on human physiology
- The purpose of a dive plan
- Key safety procedures
Next to recapping important theory, your instructor will refresh your skills, including:
- Equipment assembly
- Buddy check
- Giant stride entry
- Using the BCD properly
- Mask skills (e.g., removing and replacing mask underwater)
- Emergency procedures
Agencies Offering Scuba Diving Refresher Courses
Many different scuba diving agencies and dive shops around the world offer refresher courses. The most popular agencies for a scuba diving refresher course include PADI, SDI, and SSI. These are some of the most popular and well-known training organizations.
While they come with their own set of rules and regulations, the refresher programs more or less do the same job: they refresh your diving knowledge and skills, making sure you are ready to dive again.
Of course, it makes most sense to choose the same agency you did your initial certification with – if it was PADI, stick with PADI, and so on. However, this is not a mandatory requirement, as you can always continue your training with a different agency as well. In some holiday destinations, the choice may be limited – don’t worry, you can do a scuba diving refresher course with any agency.
Is a Refresher Course Mandatory?
A refresher course is not mandatory, but it is a good idea to do one. It makes sure that you know how to dive safely before going on your first dive after some time without diving. While diving in itself is not difficult, many divers dive infrequently. This can become a problem as proper training is a key prerequisite for keeping diving safe. Over time, you may have forgotten quite a bit, so it is a good idea to take a refresher course. In addition, rules and regulations may change over time – a refresher course will ensure that you are aware of the most up to date specifics.
In some places, dive shops may require that you take a scuba diving refresher course before diving with them if you have not been diving for some time (e.g., two years). Don’t be angry – this is an important precaution so you can dive safely afterwards.
How Much Does a Refresher Course Cost?
The cost of a refresher course depends on the agency and the specific dive shop. Of course, it also strongly depends on the location.
Most refresher courses cost between $100 and $500, also depending on whether they include equipment rental. Check the specific prices with dive shops around your holiday destination.
Let’s review why taking a refresher course as a scuba diver is a great idea, especially if you haven’t dived for some time.
Refresh Diving Knowledge
After some time without diving (maybe a few months, maybe a few years or even decades), you forget things that are absolutely crucial to keeping diving safe and fun. While diving is safe if done right, things can go wrong. You don’t want to be shooting to the surface because you accidentally overinflated your BCD. You don’t want to have a ruptured ear drum because you did not equalize properly. You don’t want to get the bends because you stayed too deep for too long.
These are just a few examples of things people tend to forget. A scuba diving refresher course allows you to safely review important knowledge and skills before hitting the water for your first dive after some time without diving.
Take a refresher course to build up your confidence in key knowledge and skills. Confidence is essential for a diver to be safe. Divers who are confident in their skills make fewer mistakes, which leads to less potential for injury. They enjoy their diving experience more because they know what’s coming next and how to handle it safely. Especially after some time without diving, taking a refresher course is a great way to rebuild your confidence.
We all make mistakes sometimes – this applies to scuba diving just as to any other activity. However, if you have not dived for some time, these mistakes accumulate, potentially up to a point that becomes dangerous. In your initial Open Water certification, you have learned how to prevent beginner scuba diving problems, but that memory may have faded completely by now.
Taking a refresher course ensures that you make fewer mistakes when diving after some time has passed since your certification or last dive. Should a mistake occur, you will know how to handle the consequences safely.
Practicing safe diving in a safe environment is essential, especially if you have not been diving for some time. Not only will this help you to understand better how your scuba equipment works, but it will also allow you to practice skills and safety procedures. If something goes wrong during a dive, you should know how to stay safe – taking a refresher course ensures this is the case.
A scuba diving refresher course is a great way to refresh your memory and learn new things. It’s also an opportunity for you to practice and rebuild your diving skills, as well as stay safe in the water. After all, there will be an instructor with you to answer your questions and correct your technique. This allows you to reestablish your long-term memory, so you can dive safely for the years to come. The more you practice something, the easier it will be for your brain to remember what was learned and how to apply it later in life.
While development has slowed down, diving is still evolving. If you have not dived for more than a few years or even decades, a refresher course should be an absolute must not only to refresh your knowledge and skills. It will also ensure that you are aware of the latest procedures and equipment.
For instance, a refresher course allows you to familiarize yourself with new equipment and procedures that may have been introduced since you last took a course or were first certified.
Learning new skills can help you become more comfortable in your skin, as well as increase your overall proficiency as a scuba diver. Try different styles as part of your refresher course, and don’t be afraid to experiment! Your instructor will be there to assist you.
Scuba Diving Refresher Contents
Let’s review some contents that will be part of your scuba diver refresher course, regardless of the training agency. During the course, you should expect:
Check the condition of your equipment and make sure it’s in good working order. Check for damage or signs of wear; if something seems wrong, do not dive with it and instead have it serviced.
The most important rule of scuba diving (you may remember it from your Open Water course) is to never hold your breath. Air spaces expand as you ascend, so be sure not to hold your breath to allow air to escape and avoid injury.
Hand signals are the main way for you and your dive buddy to communicate underwater. They are also used by the instructor to communicate with you.
During your refresher course, you should refresh your knowledge of the different hand signals, for instance, how to check your buddy’s air and communicate your own.
Equalizing is a skill you need to practice, especially after some time without diving. The more you dive, the better your equalization skills will be. You can always ask your instructor for help if you’re having trouble equalizing – it is likely that a certain technique works best for you (e.g., the Valsalva maneuver).
While diving, it may be that you lose your regulator. This could be because you accidentally spit it out, or somebody knocks it out of your face. Whatever happens, you should know how to recover it safely. A scuba diving refresher course goes through the simple steps to recover your regulator to stay safe.
Your weight belt (or integrated weights) keep you down. Without it, you risk an uncontrolled ascent, which is quite dangerous. Nonetheless, dropping your weight may become necessary in an emergency if you run out of air and your last option to get to the surface in time is to drop your weight. Therefore, practicing the emergency weight drop is a mandatory requirement of the refresher course.
If you are considering to restart diving after some time without it, you should definitely take a refresher course. Scuba diving is only safe if you are aware of the key concepts and know the basic skills! After a few months, years, or even decades of not scuba diving, knowledge and skills fade, whether you want to admit it or not. Don’t be too confident in your memory – there are just too many things to forget. After all, a refresher course does not take much time and does not cost much, so better be safe – and of course, diving will be much more fun afterwards when you have regained confidence in your knowledge and skills.