Using sea scooters to get around underwater can be very efficient and fun at the same time. Nonetheless, while sea scootering, you should not forget about your safety as your number one concern.
This is especially true considering the fact that you’re cruising in an unfriendly environment to most air-breathing creatures. Besides the diving environment, you should also consider the safety of your DPV per se. Which brings us to the following question: are sea scooters safe? Simple answer: yes, sea scooters are fairly safe, they are indeed equipped with many safety features. However, safety depends more on you than on the device itself. You should be aware of inherent risks to your activity while adopting the right state of mind at all times.
More safety-wise information is to come. You’ll just have to read along the following content. Let’s get started!
Safety features installed in sea scooters
Most underwater scooters possess built-in safety features. Some of these features are found in almost every device while others are only found in more premium models.
Master switch or safety lock
This switch prevents any accidental engine start-up, should you inadvertently push on the device’s trigger. This feature can be a life-saver for your scooter especially when transported or stored out of water. It is known that running your propeller out of water can cause overheating and potentially irreversible damage to your DPV!
Auto shut off when trigger is released
When you take your hands off the trigger (2 triggers in some cases), the sea scooter immediately stops working. The goal here is to prevent losing your means of propulsion while diving or snorkeling.
As its name indicates, this part is made to protect the propeller from any foreign body or debris which can get tangled around the propeller. If this occurs, your sea scooter will either stop altogether or will struggle in maintaining the desired speed output. Quite often, some divers with long hair will forget to tie their hair and find it tangled around the propeller. Ouch! Hurts both the diver and the sea scooter!
This feature is found very often in amateur or children’s sea scooters. Should you get separated from your scooter underwater, it will find its way up to the surface.
Automatic speed regulation
The faster you go, the more heat will your scooter exert. However, beyond a certain point, the scooter can be damaged and shut down at once. This can in certain situations pose a threat to the user’s life. As a protection, some models have implemented automatic speed regulation, especially for those who dive in tropical and hot waters. When this feature is activated, exceeding a certain speed limit won’t be possible until the temperature is cold enough for normal use.
When sea scootering, you might encounter some risks. These risks can be categorized into the following 3 families:
- Environment related: these risks are dictated by the elements. For instance the wind, water currents, the water temperature and even the presence of boaters or yachters.There is not much to do here but to adapt yourself to the environment in a manner to reduce the risks to the maximum.
- User related: this is related to how well you know your ABCs and how safety savvy you are when venturing in the water. Whether diving or snorkeling, you should know how to behave and how to interact with your environment while respecting your own limits and your gear. This mindset can be achieved with the right training and experience out in the water.
- Underwater scooter related: this has to do with the device itself, how well it was designed, and most importantly how the person behind the handle uses it! Eventually every device will encounter a dysfunction during its lifetime. But what makes the most impact is how well it was used and cared for by the owner! However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do some research before acquiring a sea scooter to discover the users feedback and how reliable and safe it is!
10 steps to consider to increase your safety with underwater scooters!
As told before, the equipment you’re using while sea scootering has its word to say in your safety. But most of all, it relies heavily of how you behave underwater and how well you are prepared and aware of certain key points. You’ll find below the main things to know before, during and after using your underwater scooter in order to increase your safety whith underwater scooters!
1. First things first: read your instructions manual!
After you acquire your sea scooter, the first thing that you should do is to read thoroughly your instructions manual. Even if this is not your first underwater scooter, you should not skip this step. This is because every device has its own characteristics although some instructions are relevant to most sea scooters.
Usually, not many of us read the instructions manual but still, this is very important as your knowledge of the device can be a life saver underwater. In doing so, you’ll come across very useful information like how to assemble the device, battery care, device storage and maintenance. An most importantly, you’ll be able to know how to operate the DPV, safely and with minimum risks to you!
2. Get to know your device in a safe environment
After the proper assembly and charging of your underwater scooter, the next step is to get acquainted with it. The goal here is to apply the theory (in the instructions manual) and to learn how to safely manoeuver the device.
In order to do so, choose an environment similar to where you plan to dive/snorkel, while being very low risk and safe.
For instance, if you plan to dive in salt water you can dive the first times in a swimming pool, or even better in a calm shallow sea area. This is because diving in fresh and salt water is different: your buoyancy and your scooter’s buoyancy are affected by water density, which can have quite an impact on how to use the device.
If you encounter any discomfort or issue, you can easily stop the training session and get to safety quickly. Alson diving alone is definitely a no go! Always dive with a friend! This will bring additional safety to your first dives with a sea scooter.
At the end of your ‘get to know your device’ sessions, you’ll be able to:
- Turn your device on and off
- Operate it in accordance with safety instructions
- Use the device’s buoyancy to your advantage
- Cruise at different speeds depending on the situation
- Experiment with different scenarios: for example how to behave if you get separated from your DPV
- Be aware of your scooter’s limits and strengths
Going underwater in a bad shape or mental state is definitely a no-go! Before taking a dip, you should check every time if you’re:
- Mentally ready and calm. Avoid diving or snorkeling while being anxious, stressed out or after having consumed alcoholic beverages or psychotropic substances or some types of medication. Being calm and focused is a must especially in potentially life threatening situations, where you need to quickly assess the situation and decide how to act.
- Physically fresh and fit. Although underwater scootering takes much of the effort of moving yourself underwater, you must avoid diving when you’re physically tired. You should always rely on your own body to get back to safety should any bad surprise occur with the device!
4. Check out your material before each use
Your material check-list should include:
- The diving or snorkeling equipment: you should check if there are no leaks in your diving mask, snorkel and that you’re breathing equipment is functional for instance…
- The sea scooter: when it comes to this, follow what is instructed in the device’s user manual. Here is a non-exhaustive list of things to inspect before entering the water:
- Your DPV is correctly sealed
- Your battery is fully charged or charged enough for your trip back and forth
- No debris are blocking the propeller
- Make sure the scooter runs smoothly without unusual noise or vibration
5. Assess your environment
Inspecting your diving environment is essential before each sea scootering session. The environment is quite often the biggest challenge when maneuvering your device underwater. For instance, you should always pay attention to the following elements, before and during your sessions:
- Water levels, tidal changes and dangerous currents
- Weather changes and strong offshore winds
- Always inspect the swimming area to ensure it is free of hazards or obstacles like boats and swimmers, stay away from them and make sure not to hit them with your DPV
6. Plan your dives
Well, for a fun activity like sea scootering, you won’t need to do a detailed schedule, but it is very preferable to have an idea about your activities. In order to help you achieve this, you’ll have to answer the following simple questions:
- What: what will you do? E.g: marine life observation, abalone or sea urchins diving…
- When: When will you begin your activity?
- Where: What is the location of your endeavor?
- For how long: How long do you plan to do so? This question can also be a reminder to check your sea scooter’s battery level and to ensure that you have sufficient juice for your underwater journey.
- How: the way you plan to be on your enterprise? Is there a particular route to follow? Etc…
- With whom? Yes, you should never be diving or snorkeling alone!
These questions can help you acquire a more tangible idea about your endeavors. This way, you can be more aware of time and place related measures to take. For instance, a certain location can be dangerous a certain time of the day, so you should either be demonstrating more vigilance or avoid the area altogether.
7. Start slow
The same logic applies to a sea scooter as to a car: you want to start slow and gradually increase your speed. Do not forget to always keep an eye on your surroundings for obstacles, debris, unusual currents or other elements that might pose a threat to you.
8. Respect your limits and your body
While underwater scootering, you should always respect your own body’s limits. The training sessions with the device should help you know your own abilities. Try to experiment rather during these sessions and not in the ‘field’ because of the low risk nature of the training environment.
Additionally, do not forget to always be listening to your body at all times. You also should avoid diving deeper than you would usually do to ensure you can get back to the surface safely!
Needless to say, do not use sea scooters while tired or under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication or during pregnancy for your own safety.
9. Good use of scooter
The next item in our check-list is the good use of your sea scooter. As told before, the first thing that you should do is to check your instructions manual for specific does and don’ts to your device.
Other than that, here are some pieces of advice relevant for most DPVs:
- While diving, never exceed specified depth or dive in excessively hot waters for your device.
- Use it only as advised, do not push it to its limits. You shouldn’t for instance load it with more than the advised user’s weight.
- Always ensure that the propeller is free from debris of obstacles. Long haired users should always attach their hair to avoid it being tangled around the propeller! This also applies to loose clothing or equipment that could be drawn into the water intake.
10. After use
Maintenance after use is very often overlooked and forgotten, no matter what device we speak of. Maintenance tasks, despite being little time and effort consuming, can paradoxically prolong the life of your gear and keep it in good functioning state. Sea scooters do not escape this rule and maintenance is particularly important for such devices. This is because the water environment we use them in (salt water for many users) is particularly corrosive for mechanical parts.
As mentioned many times in this articles, always refer to your manufacturer’s manual. But here is a little list of tips that are pertinent to most underwater scooters after use:
- Always rinse your underwater scooter with fresh water after scootering sessions. To do so, use a container filled with fresh water to rinse the scooter. Put it in the container and turn it on for about 10 seconds.
- Next put the scooter in a shadowy place to drain of water and get dry.
- Once dry, remove the battery
- Keep the battery and the scooter in a shadowy dry place for storage
These steps might seem difficult to apply when it comes to real life. But they’re not that difficult to remember. 4 things you’ll have to remember:
- One: read attentively your instructions manual.
- Two: get the proper training. Develop the right safety mindset: plan your sessions, respect your limits and don’t take useless risks!
- Three: Always check your surroundings at all times
- Four: Make sure to use correclty your scooter and care for it.
Enjoy your underwater adventures and stay safe!