Regardless if you are a novice or an expert, the buddy check is one of the most important to be completed before finally getting in the water. It is not as simple as saying, “you good, bud?” It involves a five-point check that is often abbreviated as BWRAF.
With all the excitement to be underwater, a lot of people, even experienced divers, sometimes forget the routine pre-dive safety check. Do not be one of those people! Make it a habit to check not only yourself but also your diving buddy.
A thorough inspection from head to toe will be necessary while making sure that all gears are working properly, especially that that will be critical for breathing.
Ready to learn the buddy check? Read on and learn from the insights we will be sharing.
How to Do the Buddy Check
As we have mentioned in the introduction, five steps are involved in the buddy check. To make it easier to remember these when you are already about to dive, take note of the acronym – BWRAF.
1. Buoyancy Control Device
Also known as scuba BCD, the buoyancy control device is controlled by the diver under the water. The primary purpose is to make sure that you are stable whether underwater or on the surface. Whether you would want to be floating, hovering, or descending, this will be instrumental in controlling your movements.
At this point of the buddy check, the main goal is to make sure that all the connections are in place and that there will be no problem upon deployment. See to it that it will be able to inflate without losing air. Whether it is a vest-style of back inflation BCD, check to ensure that it will be ready to be deployed.
Also, examine the buttons to have a guarantee that they are not faulty. The quick releases and the toggles should also be inspected to prevent getting tangled. Otherwise, it will be impossible to control their functions when you are already under the water.
If the BCD is not working properly, it will not inflate as expected, so it is crucial to perform the steps that have been mentioned above. You will have a problem staying buoyant on the surface. You won’t be able to sink or stay afloat when you want to. To avoid having problems, it is also critical that you learn how to improve your buoyancy control.
For novices, it is common to think that the weighting system will make them sink when they are underwater. However, this is actually one of the best ways to counter buoyancy. Along with the scuba tank, it will assure that you will have a comfortable dive. Plus, whether it is descent or ascent, the weights will make things a lot easier.
During this step of the pre-dive safety check, you have to make sure that your buddy is wearing the weights properly. It should be in the correct position, which will make it easy to release when needed. If the release system does not work properly once you are already diving, your safety will most probably be compromised.
It is also important to note that different types of scuba diving weights are available. In the case of some, they are already integrated into the BCD. Some have harnesses and others are integrated into the pockets. Since they are available in all shapes and sizes, you should be familiar with its position and how it works. By being familiar with the set-up, it will also be quick for you to help your buddy when a hand is needed.
Because BCDs may be designed differently depending on the manufacturer, you also have to be familiar with how the releases work. See to it that the releases are snug and in the proper position. Tug on the releases to have an assurance that they are not loose. Check the straps to be sure that they are tight.
Specifically, you have to pay attention to the connection between the tank and the BCD. It should be closed and secure. If not, the tank will most likely slide out after getting into the water.
During an emergency, it will be difficult for your buddy to create a contingency plan when the releases and the straps get along the way, so they must be in their proper positions before the dive.
The main purpose of this step is to test the scuba regulator to be sure that they are working properly and that you won’t have difficulty breathing when underwater. While your regulator will be helpful, however, it is also important to master the scuba diving breathing techniques.
Take note, you will not be able to breathe when unaided as you dive. So, you have to check and make sure that the valve is open and functioning as anticipated. Start by breathing in and out about three times. Your diving body should also do the same. If you smell or taste something foul, this could be an indication of a problem that should be checked immediately.
After performing several breaths, you also have to check the scuba gauge. If there is a sudden and steep drop, you have to take this as a fair warning. If the needle is moving, perform a thorough inspection. Check if the valve is fully opened.
As a part of this step, you should also know the alternate air source of your buddy, making it easy to assist when needed.
5. Final OK
This will be your confirmation to your buddy, divemaster, or others in the dive group that you are ready for the dive. Before you give your final ok, make sure that you have everything that you will need for the dive, which includes a scuba mask, scuba fins, dive computer, and dive light, among other must-haves. Perform a head to toe check of your buddy before giving the final ok.
At this point, the assumption is that you already have your full gear on, and hence, it might be difficult for you to speak a word. So, you do not need to verbally communicate to say that you are ready for the dive. Instead, you have to use hand signals. In case you do not know, ok is done by simply joining your thumb and index finger, with the first, second, and third fingers extending. This will form a letter “o” with the three fingers raised. This is the hand gesture that you have to do when you are all set after performing the fifth step in the buddy check.
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Indeed, the buddy check is an important thing to learn and to not skip during your dives. It is a preventive measure to avoid any untoward incident once you and your buddy are already under the water. It takes only a few minutes of your time but when done properly, it can save lives!
Aside from the pre-dive safety check, it is also important that you learn the five-point descent guide to make sure that you are your buddy are both ready to descend.