Safety is the number one priority of every dive. It has to be, because the skills and training required to be a certified SCUBA diver don’t amount to much if you’re operating in a way that could endanger your life. Proper precautions and a routine of safety checks have saved many a diver’s life, and experience is no reason to let your vigilance slide. Since June is Diver Safety Awareness Month, we thought it would be good to review a few pieces of safety equipment that every diver should at least be familiar with.
Also known as an SMB, a surface marker buoy is one of the most fundamental pieces of SCUBA gear for safety. The SMB is important to diver safety because it lets the world topside know there is a diver down below. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, but the message remains the same: watch out for divers. They are deployed before the diver descends and attached to the diver by a reel that gives a constant indicator of the diver’s position. A safety sausage is similar, but it is deployed below the surface as the diver is ascending to indicate his position to the dive boat. A safety sausage should never be used as a substitute for a diver down flag or surface marker buoy — you need to let people know you are below well enough ahead of time, because there is an amazing amount of boaters and other people on the water who just aren’t aware of diver activity or safety.
Not all divers carry these, but we bet every one has wished they had at one point or another. These are essential communication tools on a dive. If you need your buddy’s attention now, an audible signaling device will get the ball rolling quickly. There are several types to choose from: some have pellets on the inside that shake like maracas, and others integrate into your second stage regulator or your low-pressure inflator hose to produce a loud honk. At the surface, they will help the boat locate you if you’ve strayed further than you can swim. Why take a chance when it’s hardly noticeable to carry it with you? Make sure you get noticed when you need it most!
We talk often about the importance of a dive knife, but you can take that a step further by having a pair of EMT shears on you. Don’t be fooled by the fact that their tips are blunted — EMT shears are sharp enough to cut through just about anything, and lessen the chance of you injuring yourself while you use them. Shears will come in even handier than a knife should you become entangled in a fishing net or a line, and in case of a physical emergency, you can quickly cut through wetsuits or other dive gear if necessary. Most pairs will slip easily into a BC pocket, and some even come with their own attachable sheath. Invest in a good pair of EMT shears to enhance your dive safety!