Cave Diving's Most
Important Safety Rules
North-central Florida's crystal-clear, underwater caverns and caves are among its most popular attractions for visiting divers. When divers use common sense and follow important safety rules, diving these overhead environments can be nearly as safe as diving in open water. However, when divers fail to follow these rules, the results are often tragic. Since 1950, nearly 400 divers have perished in Florida's caverns and caves. The vast majority of these divers had no formal training in cavern or cave diving.
In the 1960s and 1970s, cave diving pioneer Sheck Exley conducted a careful study of cave diving fatalities. What he discovered was that, in virtually every instance, the victims' demise could be attributed to one or more of just three direct causes. Later, National Speleological Society Cave Diving Section (NSS-CDS) Training Chairman Wes C. Skiles identified two additional factors that, while not directly responsible for divers' deaths, nonetheless contributed substantially to most such fatalities.
Together, the findings of Exley and Skiles form the basis for what cave divers know as the Rules of Accident Analysis. These five rules form the basis for all modern cave diver training. They are something of which every diver who visits this unique area should be aware.
This article provides a synopsis of these rules. (And, in the tradition of Late Night with David Letterman, we'll work from the bottom of the list to the top.)
Use Three Sources of Light ª