The Pre-Dive Safety Check for Scuba Diving

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The Pre-Dive Check Makes Scuba Diving Safer

Scuba Divers Are Ready to Dive
These scuba divers are confident in their gear after completing a pre-dive safety check. Image copyright istockphoto.com, Yuri_Arcurs

Do you consider flying dangerous? Most people will agree that while there are certain risks associated with flying, traveling by plane is fairly safe. One of the reasons that air travel has a fantastic safety record is that pilots complete a long checklist to make sure that a plane is working properly before it ever leaves the ground. Scuba divers have a similar checklist, the pre-dive safety check (or buddy check), to review their scuba gear before hopping into the water. Thankfully, scuba equipment is much less complicated than an airplane, and once a diver becomes comfortable using the pre-dive safety check, reviewing scuba gear before a dive takes only a matter of seconds.

Click through the steps to learn about the pre-dive safety check, or jump ahead by choosing one of the following links:

• Reasons to Perform a Pre-Dive Safety Check Before Every Dive
• What Are the Five Steps of the Pre-Dive Safety Check?
• How to Check Your Buoyancy Compensator
• How to Check Your Weights
• How to Check Your Releases
• How to Check Your Air and Regualtors
• Preform a Final Okay
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Why Preform a Pre-Dive Safety Check?

Divers enter the water after completing a pre-dive safety check.
Divers should preform a pre-dive safety check before every dive, including shore dives. Image copyright istockphoto.com, krestafer

Most divers check their scuba gear as they are assembling it. Why is it necessary to check the equipment again before entering the water?

• The Pre-Dive Safety Check Is Performed Once a Diver Is Wearing His Gear
Between the time that a diver sets up his scuba equipment and the time that he rolls off the boat, a number of changes may be made to his gear. "Helpful" crew may close the tank valve so that air is not lost during travel to the dive site. A bumpy boat ride may shift gear around and damage or disorganize it. Even donning the scuba gear may cause some of the hoses to become entangled. The pre-dive safety check is a last-minute review to make sure that all of the gear is still functioning properly and arranged to the diver's satisfaction.

• A Diver Runs Through the Pre-Dive Safety Check With His Dive Buddy
A diver may be one-hundred percent certain that his gear is perfectly assembled, but does he have the same level of confidence in his buddy's gear? Consider that if a diver's buddy has an equipment-related problem underwater, it is the diver who has to help him. This can delay or even ruin a dive. Using the pre-dive safety check in buddy teams familiarizes the divers with each other's gear, helping them to assist each other efficiently in the unlikely event of an emergency. A good dive buddy may also catch small mistakes in equipment assembly that his partner has overlooked.

• Zen in the Art of Scuba Diving
Crowded dive boats and dive sites can be disorienting, full of divers hustling about in excited anticipation. The pre-dive safety check helps divers to stop, focus on their gear, and enter the diver mind set before jumping in the water. I find the pre-dive safety check is a great way to mentally prepare a diver to enter the underwater world.
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The Five Steps of the Pre-Dive Safety Check

The Five Steps of the Pre-Dive Safety Check
Instructors Natalie Novak and Ivan Perez of www.divewithnatalieandivan.com demonstrate the five steps of the pre-dive safety check. Natalie L Gibb

A standard pre-dive safety check consists of five steps. As an instructor, I have found that it helps divers to run through the steps of the pre-dive safety check in the same order before every dive. Divers are less likely to forget a step when they use a methodical system. The steps of the pre-dive safety check are:

1. Buoyancy Compensator
2. Weights
3. Releases
4. Air
5. Final Okay

PADI uses an acronym to help divers remember the steps in order –
Begin With Review And Friend
Creative dive instructors around the world have come up with other acronyms to remember the check, some more politically correct than others.

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B - How to Check Your Buoyancy Compensator

Divers check their BCDs before entering the water.
Instructors Natalie Novak and Ivan Perez of www.divewithnatalieandivan.com check their BCDs before entering the water. Natalie L Gibb

The first step of the pre-dive safety check is to check the divers' buoyancy compensators (BCDs) for function and to make sure that both BCDs are inflated before the divers jump in the water.

Inflate your BCD to make sure that the inflator button works, and then check each of the BCD's deflators to confirm that they function, and that the dump/pull strings are unencumbered. While checking your own gear, your buddy should be checking his. Visually confirm that your buddy's BCD inflates and deflates, and note the position of the inflator and deflator mechanisms in case you need to assist your buddy in the unlikely event of an emergency.

Once you and your buddy confirm that each other's BCD functions properly, make sure to inflate the BCD enough that you will be able to float on the surface when you enter the water. Check that your buddy does the same.

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W - How to Check Your Weights

Divers check their weights during the pre-dive safety check
Instructors Natalie Novak and Ivan Perez of www.divewithnatalieandivan.com check their weights before entering the water. Ivan uses a weight belt while Natalie has an integrated weight system. Natalie L Gibb

The second step of the pre-dive safety check is confirmation that the divers' weight systems are in place. First, check to make sure that each diver is wearing his weight system (whether it is a weight belt or integrated weights). Then, confirm that the quick-release system for the weights is visible and unencumbered.

A diver wearing a weight belt should check that it is oriented as a right-hand release (the diver wearing the belt can pull it open using just his right hand), that the free end is visible, and that the belt is clear of other gear so that it can fall away easily when opened.

If a diver is using an integrated weight system, make sure that the weight pockets are inserted securely into the buoyancy compensator (BCD). Next, confirm that both divers understand how to release the weights in an emergency, as quick releases for integrated weight systems vary according to the type of BCD.

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R - How to Check Your Releases

Scuba divers check their BCD releases during the pre-dive safety check
Natalie Novak and Ivan Perez of www.divewithnatalieandivan.com check their BCD releases before entering the water. On the left, Natalie checks her shoulder release. On the right, Ivan confirms that Natalie's tank bands are snug. Natalie L Gibb
The third step of the pre-dive safety check is to check the buoyancy compensator's (BCD's) releases to make sure that they are snug. Tug on each of the releases to confirm that that clips are correctly closed and that the straps are adequately tightened. Each diver should check his buddy's gear to confirm that the tank band connecting the BCD to the scuba tank is snapped closed, and that the band is tight enough that the tank will not slide out once the diver jumps in the water.
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A - How to Check Your Air and Regulators

Scuba Divers Check Their Regulators and Air During the Pre-Dive Safety Check
Instructors Natalie Novak and Ivan Perez check their regulators and air supply. Natalie breaths from her regulator while watching her pressure gauge to confirm that the tank valve is open. Ivan demonstrates a proper position for the alternate air source. Natalie L Gibb

The fourth step of the pre-dive safety check is to confirm that the regulator is functioning properly, that the tank valve is open, and that the scuba tanks are full.

Each diver takes his pressure gauge in hand, confirms the tank pressure (a full tank is close to 3000 psi or 200 bar), and then breathes from his regulator several times while watching the pressure gauge needle. As long as the pressure gauge needle does not drop significantly (to nearly zero after three or four breaths), the tank valve is open. Confirm that the regulator breathes comfortably and easily.

Next, each diver should explain to his buddy where his alternate air source (or alternative second stage) is located and how it deploys. Breathe a few times from the alternate air source to confirm that it functions, and watch your buddy do the same.

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F - The Final Okay

Scuba Divers Make a Final Okay During the Pre-Dive Safety Check
Instructors Natalie Novak and Ivan Perez of www.divewithnatalieandivan.com look over each other's gear one last time and make a final "okay" during the pre-dive safety check. Natalie L Gibb

Now that the each diver has confirmed that his gear is functioning properly, the last step of the pre-dive safety check is to glance over the gear and make sure that everything is in place. Are all the hoses secured in their proper positions? Are both divers wearing fins and masks? Have both divers remembered to take their sunglasses and hats off? Yes? Then you are good to go! Have a great dive!

Special thanks to Natalie Novak and Ivan Perez of www.divewithnatalieandivan.com for taking the time out of their busy teaching and diving schedule in Mexico to help me with the photos!

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Your Citation
Gibb, Natalie. "The Pre-Dive Safety Check for Scuba Diving." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/pre-dive-safety-check-scuba-diving-2963294. Gibb, Natalie. (2017, March 3). The Pre-Dive Safety Check for Scuba Diving. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/pre-dive-safety-check-scuba-diving-2963294 Gibb, Natalie. "The Pre-Dive Safety Check for Scuba Diving." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/pre-dive-safety-check-scuba-diving-2963294 (accessed November 17, 2017).