Obviously, I will start by saying that the absolute safest way to dive is with a buddy, and my preferred method as well. But for some people diving with a buddy is just not possible and they are going to dive without a partner regardless. I’ll put together these five tips that will help with minimizing the risk of diving solo.
This tip is an easy one. Just don’t do it, and if you’re going to do it be smart about where and when you choose to dive by yourself. Hazardous conditions and different bottom types can lead to a issues while hunting or recovering your fish. A diver that has to extend their bottom-time in order to recover the fish, can lead to many different issues other than just shallow water blackout.
Use a float. Using a float is a good idea when diving by yourself so that boats have an idea of where you are even if you’re underwater. Additionally, a float line and float can reduce tangles if you’re dealing with larger fish and more complex environments.
Reduce your working depth. My personal rule thumb if I ever end up diving alone which does happen from time to time is that I take my max comfortable depth of diving say 60 feet, and reduce it by half. This will give you a safety margin to minimize the risk of extending your dive time by yourself which can lead to blackouts.
Similar to cutting your depth in half, I typically reduce my bottom time by about 30 seconds. For example, if I feel comfortable diving for 1 minute 30 seconds, I will typically keep my dives around a minute when diving by myself.
This tip is more about protecting your friends and family from being able to find out what happened to you. It’s as easy as giving your loved ones a time you’ll be back and the location of where you plan to go diving. This way they can at least have an idea where to search when you don’t return home. Other than blacking out and finding you dead on the bottom, another reason why this is good practice is that a lot of other things could happen when solo diving like your boat anchor comes free and your boat drifts away. It’s just a good idea to do this in order to plan for the "what ifs" that may come up when solo diving.
I hope that these tips will help you minimize the risks associated with solo diving. But please remember that the best way to protect yourself is to have a strong, competent buddy spot you while you are diving.