Basic Cave Diving: A Blueprint for Survival

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Basic Cave Diving: A Blueprint for Survival, also commonly referred to by the subtitle alone, A Blueprint for Survival, is a short book on safe scuba diving procedures for cave diving by pioneer cave diver Sheck Exley, originally published in 1979, by the Cave Diving Section of the National Speleological Society. It is considered to have had a significant impact on the number of cave diving fatalities since publication, and is considered one of the more historically important publications in recreational diving.[1][2]


The book is in ten chapters, each based on the analysis of an accident report. The pdf version of the 5th edition has 46 pages.[3]

  • The foreword explains how Exley was inspired to write the book after viewing some state highway patrol accident report pictures, and realizing how effectively they brought him to understand the possible consequences of unsafe driving, and how he applied this approach to the structure of the book.
  • Chapter 1: The Guideline – Line deployed by scuba divers for navigation[3]
  • Chapter 2: Air Supply Planning – Estimation of breathing gas mixtures and quantities required for a planned dive profile[3]
  • Chapter 3: Too Deep – Underwater diving to a depth beyond the norm accepted by the associated community[3]
  • Chapter 4: Panic – Sudden overwhelming sensation of fear[3]
  • Chapter 5: Lights – Light used underwater by a diver[3]
  • Chapter 6: Scuba – Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus[3]
  • Chapter 7: Silt – Reduction of underwater visibility by disturbing silt deposits[3]
  • Chapter 8: Emergency Procedures – The skills required to dive safely using a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.[3]
  • Chapter 9: Technological Emergencies – Agents and situations that pose a threat to the underwater diver[3]
  • Chapter 10: Physiological Emergencies – Agents and situations that pose a threat to the underwater diver[3]

There are four appendices:[3]

  • A Blueprint for Survival – Ten Recommendations for Safe Cave Diving
  • Certified Training Course Requirements: NSS Cave Diving Section
  • NSS Cavern and Cave Diving Instructors
  • In Case of Accident...


One of the first manuals on cave diving safety, and written at a time when cave diving fatalities were relatively frequent, it is still considered relevant in the 21st century, as the basic principles have not changed much.[4][2][1]


First published 1979, then again in 1980, 1991 and 1984. The fifth edition was published in 1986.[3] It is available for free download from the NSSCDS.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Lunn, Rosemary E. (14 May 2018). "Exley's "Blueprint" Available Free". Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Sheck Exley and The Blueprint for Survival (Review)". Chronicles of a Filipino Cave Diver. 11 July 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Exley, Sheck (1986). Basic Cave Diving: A Blueprint for Survival (PDF) (5th ed.). Lake City, Florida: National Speleological Society Cave Diving Section.
  4. ^ Batten, Vikki (2 October 2015). "A Blueprint For Survival – Still Relevant Today – Rosemary E. Lunn". PADI Tecrec Blog. Retrieved 9 August 2019.