Relative risk in diving

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Dody

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There seems to be a commun wisdom in the diving community that we should avoid risk because it will kill you. Diving should be fun and safe. However, the perfection of risk is a very personal thing. The risk itself is not an absolute concept. Some divers will rapidly gear up if there are told there is group of longimanus lurking underwater, a bit like surfers are attracted to the biggest waves. I would not. Other divers like me, enjoy rough conditions, current, surges and even long surface dive in choppy waters. We feel alive, we find it fun but not to point of being dragged miles away in open sea. Some dive solo even at 50 years old plus (what about the risk of heart attack) and feel perfectly safe. Some rec divers have the same routine diving 39 meters or 12 meters while for others below 15 meters is too dangerous. I am not even talking about technical diving, especially cave diving. It is not only a matter of experience and training. It is a matter of perception rooted in ourselves from our life experience, personal fears, comfort under water, personality, scientific knowledge… For example some consider that diving on air is dangerous below 30 meters given the gas density and the CO2 retention. Or that it it is better to dive nitrox (32 I guess not 36) at this depth. Everybody has the same data (Gavin Anthony and Simon J. Mitchell) but not everybody reaches the same conclusion. The mistake that some commentators make is transposing their personal vision of the risk to everybody else. Mistaking absolute and undeniable risk if that exists with perception of what absolute truth is… This does not mean that we should disregard the risks. It’s just a bit more complicated than that.
 

jadairiii

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...The mistake that some commentators make is transposing their personal vision of the risk to everybody else. Mistaking absolute and undeniable risk if that exists with perception of what absolute truth is… This does not mean that we should disregard the risks. It’s just a bit more complicated than that.

Go on the average Cattle Boat in the keys and see how many divers have a BMI of over 30......that is risky!
 

TMHeimer

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NorCalDM

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I think risk tolerance is personal based on your past experience/training and not just in diving. I may look at something and don't feel that it is a risk to me but someone else may feel it is too much of a risk for them as we have different life experiences.
 

arew+4

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I ride sport bikes on the road, I used race them on the track. I was always much safer on the track even at my personal limit, than I will ever be on the road even at 50% of what me and the bike could do. It all boils down to managing controlling the variables under your purview, and modifying your plan and actions to adjust for those you cannot. Then deciding if the remaining risk is worth the reward.
 

The Chairman

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The mistake that some commentators make is transposing their personal vision of the risk to everybody else.
A few mantras come into my mind here...
A diver has to know their limitations.​
Plan as if your life depended on it.​
Dive and let dive!​

Diving is all about limits. We usually set three on every dive (time, depth, & gas) and often overlook others such as conditions, training, skill, and stamina. It's my belief that the most important rule in diving is that you can call a dive at any time, for any reason, and with no questions asked. I also believe that the best time to call a dive is before you get wet.

Unfortunately, planning seldom seems to address those limitations adequately. Many (most???) divers plan their dives as if nothing will go wrong. Sure, you get an education in not doing that here on SB as we kibitz about others exceeding their limits and the aftermath that comes with that. Still, most divers splash hoping nothing happens, and every successful dive increases their over-confidence until it doesn't.

That over-confidence often gets expressed here. It also often gets challenged here. Unfortunately, that sometimes results in feelings getting hurt. An anecdote: before I was full cave, I posted here on SB my desire to do the "Grand Traverse" at Peacock Springs near where I live. Boy did I catch hell for that and rightly so. Meh, so I waited till I was fully qualified to do it and had a great time doing it with @tbone1004. A few people were appalled at some of the comments leveled at me, but not me. Feedback, even harsh feedback, is a bonus. Like antiseptic on a wound, it might sting a bit, but there is almost always a nugget of truth to learn in criticisms. Candidly, there's often a whole mine full in there, so swallow your pride and learn something.

Edit: The Grand Traverse is an almost mile long journey underground. There are a few karst openings where you can do the "walk of shame", but it's not that hard to complete if you plan adequately and keep to the plan.
 
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