SCUBA diving is an inherently dangerous activity, but as the sport evolves, so do the measures we take to ensure its ongoing safety. Diving as much as possible and refining your skills are great ways to increase your level of safety when diving, but when you’re out in the wide open ocean, anything can happen, which is why safety accessories of all kinds exist. These devices are designed specifically for use in an emergency situation to help a diver get to safety. You should know how to use your safety devices and practice with them often so they will be of use to you when you really need them. While there are plenty to choose from, here are 5 safety accessories that should be on your BCD at all times.
The funny little nickname alludes to the appearance of the surface marker buoy when in use, as it indeed resembles a long sausage, decked out in highly visible neon yellow or orange, sometimes red. This safety device is crucial in relaying your position to the dive boat, or if in an emergency situation, anyone who may be scanning the open water for you. It rolls down into a bundle that can easily fit into a BCD pocket or clipped on a D-ring, but expands to 6 feet above the surface when deployed. The value of your safety sausage cannot be underestimated on any dive!
Anyone who’s been SCUBA diving knows that trying to get someone’s attention underwater can be an exercise in futility if you’re not in close enough proximity to touch. An emergency situation may not have those precious seconds it takes to physically engage another diver, so an audible signal is going to be your best bet. There are plenty on the market that produce different sounds, and even ones that will work on the surface as well as below. When you need attention and you need it now, nothing will be quite as instantaneous as an audible signaling device. Many of them connect right into your inflator hose, so no extra pocket space is required.
Many divers carry both a primary and a secondary light on most of their dives, which makes good sense, considering how widely visibility can vary from site to site and day to day. Even if you are absolutely sure you’ll be diving in a well-lit area with great visibility, carry a backup light. A dive light doesn’t have to be big to be powerful underwater, and it can serve as another signaling device both underwater and on the surface. Clip one onto your BCD and never be in the dark when you least expect it.
There’s no underestimating the value of a dive knife or a pair of EMT shears in any situation that presents danger, whether it escalates into a full-blown emergency or not. Abandoned fishing nets and line pose a significant risk to divers, whose gear has all kinds of protruding objects to become entangled in. While the ability to slice through any obstacles is no substitute for a streamlined profile, there are situations where a knife or shears become life-saving tools, and are therefore must-have safety accessories.
We chose to separate these kinds of lights from other dive lights because of the passive, but vital role they play in search and rescue of a diver. Emergency lights are small and are meant to be attached to your body, tank, or BCD, and emit steady or flashing light pulses to notify searchers of your location. There was a recent incident of three divers being rescued solely because a passing boat captain noticed the flashing strobes on their BCDs, which emphasizes just how powerful these little safety devices can be. Don’t go diving without your arsenal of safety tools!