To the Editor: The South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society (SPUMS) recommends that, before starting scuba-diving activities, all candidates undertake a medical assessment by a doctor trained in diving medicine. SPUMS recommends a minimum age of 14 years for all entry-level scuba activities, as does Australian Standard 4005.1. This recommendation is based on the belief that younger children do not have the emotional maturity and confidence to safely manage underwater emergencies. Such emergencies, which may include running out of air, being separated from your buddy, being caught in a strong current, and equipment malfunction, can all result in panic.2,3 A diver who panics will typically make a rapid ascent to the surface, risking life-threatening pulmonary barotrauma and decompression illness.2
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