The Ul­ti­mate Pre­dive Buddy Safety Check

You learned it dur­ing your open- wa­ter cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, but are you still prac­tic­ing it?

Sport Diver - - Training -

It doesn’t mat­ter if you’ve made 10 dives or 1,000 dives, the pre­dive buddy safety check should be a part of your rou­tine. It en­sures that ev­ery­one’s equip­ment is prop­erly set up and work­ing, and also helps fa­mil­iar­ize both of you with each other’s kit. Re­mem­ber BWRAF from PADI’S Open Wa­ter Diver man­ual? It’s the acro­nym that stands for the steps in a thor­ough pre­dive safety check: BC/ Buoy­ancy, Weight, Re­leases, Air and Fi­nal Check. Re­mem­ber the steps in a buddy check with this mnemonic: Be­gin With Re­view And Friend. Or, if you pre­fer: Bruce Wil­lis Ru­ins All Films, Big White Rab­bits Are Fluffy, etc.

× Bc/buoy­ancy

Check that it’s ad­justed prop­erly, the low-pres­sure in­fla­tor hose is prop­erly con­nected and the buck­les are se­cure. Lo­cate the dump valves and re­leases, and make sure they’re work­ing. En­sure that the tank is firmly strapped in. Hit the in­fla­tor but­ton for a short burst to make sure that it’s work­ing, and then de­flate it. Check that sig­nal­ing de­vices are work­ing and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble.

× Weight

En­sure the amount of weight is cor­rect and dis­trib­uted prop­erly. Also be sure that the weight pock­ets and/or weight

belt is se­cured. Check your buddy’s weight belt to be sure it al­lows for quick, right- hand re­lease, or if his or her BC has in­te­grated weights, make sure you know how to re­lease them.

× Re­leases Check all re­leases and make sure they are se­cure — these can in­clude ster­num straps, shoul­der straps and cum­mer­bunds. Don’t for­get the tank re­lease. Make sure your buddy’s BC is strapped cor­rectly.

× Air Both you and your buddy should take sev­eral breaths from the reg­u­la­tor and check the SPG to en­sure the tank is full and on. The nee­dle on the SPG should not move, and if you’re us­ing an air-in­te­grated com­puter, the air pres­sure should de­crease by only a few pounds per breath. Test your al­ter­nate and your buddy’s. Make sure both of your al­ter­nate air sources are cor­rectly clipped off and vis­i­ble. Check for any leaks, such as where the first stage con­nects to the tank.

× Fi­nal Check Make this a head-to-toe check. Se­cure all loose hoses, con­soles, lights, cam­eras, etc. Test any gear, such as turn­ing on your dive light. Make sure wet­suits are zipped and hoses aren’t tan­gled.

Other con­sid­er­a­tions in­clude:

× The site. Is the site div­able given the cur­rent weather and tidal con­di­tions? Are you and your buddy both com­fort­able mak­ing the dive?

× In the event of an emer­gency. What are the dive op­er­a­tor’s estab­lished emer­gency pro­ce­dures? Is emer­gency oxy­gen avail­able? Where is the clos­est de­com­pres­sion cham­ber? If the op­er­a­tor fails to give a safety brief­ing, po­litely ask for one.

× Ob­vi­ously, tech­ni­cal divers have a more ex­ten­sive pre­dive safety check­list. For ex­am­ple, dry­suit divers need to make sure their suit is in good work­ing order. Wreck-pen­e­tra­tion, cave and re­breather divers have very spe­cific guide­lines and equip­ment checks to fol­low be­fore mak­ing a dive. But the bot­tom line is this: A pre­dive safety check should be made be­fore each and every dive. Com­pla­cency, lack of prepa­ra­tion and a lack of at­ten­tion to de­tail are not ac­cept­able.

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