Whenever you go snorkeling or scuba diving, be sure to fly a diver’s down flag from your boat or surface float. This is essential to help avoid getting hit by a careless boat operator.
The diver’s flag is a red flag with a diagonal white stripe which runs from the upper left corner to the lower right. The purpose of the flag is to warn boat operators that there are divers in the water and that they should maintain a distance of 100 feet from the flag. If you venture more than 100 feet in any direction from your flag you run a good chance of being hit by a boat.
Keep in mind that not all yachtsmen know what the diver’s flag means and that some people will deliberately motor your way to investigate your flag. Keep a sharp eye out any time you are snorkeling or diving in an area where there is any boat traffic.
If you plan to use your equipment at resorts where there are other divers present, you will probably want to mark your gear so that you can quickly identity it as yours. You can use a waterproof marking pen for this purpose on brightly colored gear. Dive stores also sell special markers designed for use on dark equipment. You can consider buying yourself a full face snorkel mask that is going to help you in enjoying your snorkeling experience fully.
While it is acceptable to wear earplugs for swimming and snorkeling on the surface, you must never wear earplugs for diving below the surface. The water pressure can drive the earplugs through your eardrums causing serious injury.
Good quality diving equipment will last you for many years, but only if you care for it properly. There are a few simple things you need to know to get the most out of your gear.
Always rinse your diving equipment thoroughly with fresh water at the end of each diving day. If you allow salt to dry on your gear it can cause it to wear prematurely.
If you use a snorkeling vest or buoyancy compensator, each time you put air into the vest or vent it while you are in the water some salt water will get inside. You need to run fresh water into the vest to help flush it clean. To flush your buoyancy device, hold the inflator mechanism open and squirt fresh water into it.
Shake the vest several times and turn it over so that the fresh water circulates inside it completely. Turn the device upside down and hold it so the valve is at the lowest point. Open the valve and allow the water to drain out. Repeat this process until the water flowing out of the vest appears to be clear.
Dry your gear in the shade where it will get good air circulation. Never leave your gear in the sun any longer than necessary.
Hang your wetsuit or dive skin on a wide wetsuit hanger to dry and for storage. Wetsuits in particular should not be folded for storage or they will development permanent creases. Store your gear in a cool, dry place between diving days. Keep it away from electric motors or hot water heaters which produce ozone and cause rubber products to deteriorate.