Think back how proud you were of yourself after you received that coveted scuba certification, planned your dive trip, and acquired all your needed scuba gear. I would venture to guess that at that time you felt you were totally in control and ready for an emergency that life could toss at you. But, hold on one moment. You have forgotten to consider the one most important piece of gear that you have – your regulator.
Your oxygen regulator should be considered your closest friend while in the deep. It is in fact your lifeline while you are diving under water. Without it you would be severely limited in the amount of time you remain under the water.
Your tanks used for scuba dives contain several compressed gasses including combinations of oxygen and Nitrox. Humans are not designed to breathe these products directly or damage to the respiratory organs will occur. Due to this strong pressure that can be exerted upon the lungs a regulator must be employed in order to properly buffer the vapors and allow you to breath in a normal fashion while submerged.
You can find a number of different regulators on the open market today. Your first selection criteria should be quality. Since your life depends upon your regulator never skimp on the cost. Get the best possible one that you can find regardless of the cost. It is a wise decision to obtain one that comes highly recommended and tested by experienced divers. Your selection should be easy to use and error free.
Many beginners do not know it but regulators can differ from each other according to the mission of the dive site. Temperatures within the water often vary greatly and thus will affect the functionality of your particular regulator. If the water temperature will be less than 45 degrees you will expect your chosen regulator to function properly at that temperature level and to not freeze up. An excellent choice here would be a “Mares” unit which does not freeze up regardless of the weather conditions.
Diving classes often teach how to respond when a buddy experiences lose of their air supply while completing a mission. This procedure is commonly referred to as buddy breathing. The principle of buddy breathing is that you are sharing your supply of oxygen with your dive partner in order to keep him or her alive. Second stage regulators which take this act into consideration are called “Octopus”.
Upon investigating Octopus regulators you will discover that you have two types from which to select from. The first is the tradition type of style which is the same size as the primary regulator. The second one is the Octo-specific which you can safely store away when not required. Octo-specific regulators are smaller than what your primary regulator is. Since an Octopus regulator is designed merely to save a life you will not find it maximizing your diving time and as such when using it you would be wise to surface immediately.
Thoroughly plunge your regulators in freshwater after each use. This cleans off any salt water residue that may adhere to the unit. If left unchecked, these residuals will often clog the membranes and valves of the regulator. Remember to have your regulator serviced professionally yearly.
It is highly recommended that due to the lifesaving value placed on your regulator that you purchase your own as opposed to renting one. By having your own unit you can best determine if it is operating properly as it should.
Thanks to Joseph Parish and enzine articles.