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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Diver Down: Real-World SCUBA Accidents and How to Avoid Them
Format: Paperback|Change
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on December 11, 2017
As a new diver, I was torn about reading this book. I didn’t want to scare myself to death, but I wanted to learn about potential mistakes and how to avoid them. After reading this book I feel like I know more about what to look for, what to take with me on a dive, and where to not compromise (for either myself or my dive buddy).

This is a wonderfully written book as well. By starting each chapter with a climax event, he draws you into the story. He artfully describes each character, providing characterizations that help you see the victims as the real people they were, each with positive and negative traits. You end up caring about the main subjects as well as the other people who were part of the story.

Although it’s very technical at times, too technical for me to be able to absorb everything, I know that I will re-read it many times, eventually absorbing the technical details as well as the safety lessons.

I would recommend this book to all divers, experienced and new.
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on December 6, 2017
This book have me answers to questions I didn't know I have and insight into my own equipment and how to use it in an emergency. Highly educational. All these things should have been taught before the first open water dive. Instead we dive clueless in ignorance and don't even know how far or close to disaster we are, and what to do about it.
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on August 21, 2013
This is a very informative, useful, and well-written book that should be must reading for OW divers (for that matter any diver who hasn't read it). I'm AOW and have been reading the accidents/incidents section of the scubaboard forum for a while, but this book is far more informative and to-the-point. The book starts out with a brief scuba 101 overview, then goes into case studies where some ended up as scares, others resulted in fatalities. The scenarios and causalities are varied which provides an appreciation of the range of issues that can go wrong if sufficient care and training are lacking. The case studies are vividly described so that these events, terrible and tragic as some are, come to life. The author has a knack for writing. Each case study ends with a lessons learned commentary and bullet points. Embedded in the case studies are inserts describing various scuba diving features/topics, such as regulator design and the function of hyperbaric chambers. Although I'm a techie, I didn't have an interest in regulator design, and the articles I read about them (balanced/unbalanced, diaphragm/piston, environmental seal, etc.) before and after purchasing my own gear were at best vaguely useful at a 20,000 feet conceptual level (for example, environmental sealing of 1st stage helps reduce free flow due to freezing in colder waters). However, after reading the inset on balanced piston regulator design (accompanied by essentially a single picture), I could follow the essential design principle of piston based balanced design just from reading the text. That's pretty damn good writing. Since mine is a balanced diaphragm design, I googled and looked at some images and could figure out how these gadgets worked, based on the principles described for the balanced piston design.

This is one of the most informative and well-written books I've read in quite a while. I am not sure why it is not included as mandatory (or at least recommended) reading in PADI OW classes. Or perhaps it is but I haven't noticed.
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on May 23, 2016
This is a book that could really make you think in advance about some problems you might find yourself faced with. Diving can be a dangerous sport and this author has certainly highlighted some principals all divers should think about. The detail surrounding both recreational and technical concepts really expanded my views on the sport. Every diver should read this regardless of experience level to help themselves and their fellow divers.
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on June 9, 2016
Twenty diving incidents are described and analyzed in details as what was the probable cause, how they could have been avoided and what are the safety lessons learned. The Author does a great job in selecting a variety of scenarios. It should be part of any advanced, and maybe also any basic, diving training and for sure it should be part of the references of professional and technical divers.
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on April 10, 2014
If I had the time i would have read this book in one session. However, I would have re-read it case by case again to pick the points in the dive story where I thought the diver or divers should have acted differently. Sort of a test of my own ability to recognise unsafe practices. After 37 years of diving without incidents I consider this book essential reading for someone with at least an advanced diver rating and certainly a must read for anyone contemplating taking their amateur sport into a professional domain. It is a book for the reading list of dive instructors. The story of a competitive 16 year old, who died, as a result of a deliberate subterfuge for his instructor is at once gripping, and an example of the principle that ultimately we are all responsible for our own life.
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on May 26, 2009
I think of myself as an experienced (> 400 dives), skilled, and mostly pretty careful scuba diver. This book made me seriously reevaluate my diving practices.
It contains a number of accident descriptions with scenarios ranging from novice divers running out of air, divers taking unnecessary risks to poorly maintained equipment causing serious accidents. In some of the accidents, the protagonists survive with a serious scare and some hypothermia, in others they get seriously injured or pay with their lives. The book is written in a clear, sober and non-sensationalist style, but nevertheless the fact that the accidents are described with a focus on the individual human beings involved sent chills down my spine. It is psychologically so much more powerful to read "Jason tried to breathe from his regulator, but his tank was empty. He could not see his buddy." than to read the general advice to regularly monitor your air consumption and stay close to your dive partner.
After each accident report, there is a section detailing the lessons learned from the mishap, and often a box adding information about a relevant topic (caves, wrecks, rebreathers, safety devices). The accidents range from absolutely reckless behavior (a teenager attempts a solo bounce dive to 125 ft while his friend distracts the instructor during a safety stop) to cases where seemingly well-prepared divers all of a sudden find themselves in trouble (in a strong current). I found it useful to ask myself after each chapter: Could this happen to me? If yes, what should I change in my diving procedures? When was the last time I checked my safety equipment? Am I sure that I am not pushing the limits in this or that respect?
An extremely useful book, both for the actual diving knowledge it contains as well as a reminder how things can go wrong and how catastrophic that can be.
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on September 18, 2013
Every diver MUST read this. It is a real eye opener to what can go wrong and how to avoid it. I could not put it down. It is easy to read, not too technical or boring. I was on the edge of my seat the whole first read. It starts a story and goes to where disaster hits. He talks about what should and should not have happened and what we can all learn. Then, he finishes the story. Some end well and some don't. I learned so much from this book. I think every diver should be required to read this. Diving is a fun and relaxing sport, but it can also be very dangerous if the rules are not respected. I have been diving for seven years and am at the Dive Master level now. I learned great rescue tips and first aid ideas. I plan to read this again and again and get a copy for all my dive friends for Christmas! I can not recommend this book highly enough!
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on June 4, 2006
If you already are, or hope to be a certified scuba diver -- or for that matter -- are just a snorkeler, this book could save your life. Michael Ange's Diver Down, Real-World Scuba Accidents How to Avoid Them should be required reading for ALL divers and divers-to-be. No diver among us is so proficient that this book won't make him more aware of the many mishaps that can befall divers in ways beyond our imagination. Take the dive master who ducked under the dive boat in heaving seas to cut heavy tangled monofilament from the boat's propeller. Simple enough, right? Yup, until a flailing hook on that line goes through his hand and he can't cut the wire leader and finds himself minutes away from death because his air is running out.

Or what about the 35-year-old women on a shallow water river drift dive who are so exhuberant that they let the currents pull them downstream far from their group with their dive flag and end up under a pontoon boat who's churning propeller could instantly do them in.

Or how about the two pro cave divers with a novice on the end of the cave dive line and when they turn the dive he leads them back the way they came but being untrained he gets himself off into a side tunnel because he didn't know what a gapped life line meant, while the others go out only to find him missing....permanently.

Ange shows us one fatal or near fatal accident after another and analyzes the often small but fatally critical mistakes divers make. Read these lessons and remember them. They could save you or your dive buddy from serious troubles. I have made over 5,000 dives in my lifetime and know the value of this book. I wrote the book The Cave Divers back in 1976 long before any training program to save divers from killing themselves in caves. Such simple things as taking the wrong lifeline in with them was sufficient to kill them two at a time. Yellow ski ropes as a lifeline we now know are neutral buoyancy and entangle divers at depth in dark caves.

Or how about exhaled bubbles scraping sediment off the cave roof and obliterating any hope of seeing one's way out. In those days few knew the causes because victims never survived to tell the tales. Consequently, divers made the same fatal mistakes one after another.

Ange does us a much needed service with his analysis of these easily made mistakes. If we don't pay attention to the lessons they teach, we can very easily relive those mistakes and become yet another dive statistic. This book will help you avoid that. Believe me.

Robert F. Burgess
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on January 25, 2012
I picked up this book before a recent trip to Bonaire where my wife and I spent a week boat diving with groups and shore diving by ourselves. I am a fairly experienced diver with over 150 dives logged in locations including warm and cold water dives all over the world. The primary reason that I decided to read Diver Down is that no matter how many dives one has taken, you can still learn from the experiences and mistakes of others, and any incremental increase of knowledge, no matter how small, makes for safer diving.

I appreciated the author's writing style. The stories he includes are engaging and include all of the pertinent details without becoming too drawn-out. Each story provides clear cause and effect for what resulted in the accidents, and all in all I think the lessons settled into the back of my mind.

While I think this book might be a little scary for those new to or considering SCUBA diving, it does provide some very valuable insights and lessons.
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