Stay Safe – 5 Pieces of Equipment to Improve Your Safety While Diving
Scuba diving is a sport that carries a certain risks, and as a result, much time and care is spent on teaching divers to be safe.
However, a few select pieces of safety equipment, beyond your basic kit, can improve your safety a lot. Here’s five (plus one) items every diver should consider adding to his or her dive equipment.
While many divers might not consider this strictly as a safety item, the use of dive torches extend far beyond lighting your way during night dives.
In low-light conditions, a good, strong dive torch can help you signal people on land, and help you find your way when entering and exiting the water. Also, conditions underwater can suddenly worsen, and the visibility can decrease from one moment to the next.
In such conditions, having a good dive torch can be the difference between ending a dive in good order, and a lost buddy scenario.
Again for low visibility or night dives, a simple snap light attached to your tank can help your buddy or dive team members find and identify you.
Also very useful for dives in popular location, especially if you’re leading the dive, as it will help your team to identify you in a crowd of passing divers.
These small strobe lights attach to the BCD’s webbing or shoulder straps, can easily be turned on. After which they emit a strong, blinking light that alerts people around you to your presence and that you need help.
They work above and below water. They can be an effective way of indicating to a dive boat or shore crew that you need assistance, or can help signal to boaters that you are in the water.
It can also be used should you have to surface unexpectedly during dive, in particular in low-light conditions or during night dives.
But do your fellow divers a favor, and don’t buy the version that automatically turns on when submerged. Flashing lights indicate a need for assistance, so a lot of divers find the automated strobes stressing. If you need a light to indicate your position underwater, go with the snap light mentioned above.
DSMB is short for Delayed Surface Marker Buoy. These are long, inflatable tubes of varying materials, attached to a line reel or spool. They are inflated either using its own air source (typically a small air-tank attached to the DSMB) or the divers own regulators.
Useful when surfacing, for boat pickups, and in cases of entanglement where you need to let someone at the surface know you’re in need of help. Often a requirement for boat and drift dives and they are very useful to carry on all dives. But make sure you learn how to launch it.
Scissors or Trauma Shears
The dive knife is one of the most iconic pieces of dive gear. But in many situations, a sturdy pair of trauma shears can actually do the job as well or even better.
With shears, there’s less risk of accidentally stabbing yourself or puncturing hoses or your dry suit if you’re diving in cold waters (self-injuries with dive knives are more common than you know).
It’s easier to cut through a wire or fishing line one-handed with a pair of shears than with a knife.
Also, they’re less hassle to bring travelling, as regulations on knives vary by country, but shears and scissors are rarely regulated.
EPIRB or GMDSS
While definitely not a need-to-have piece of dive equipment for most divers, especially considering the cost of a unit. These small, submersible distress beacons are still worth considering when diving in remote locations or area with strong currents.
Such as the southern part of the Red Sea, the North Sea or around the Komodo Strait in Indonesia.
An EPIRB uses international satellite distress systems to alert Search And Rescue units to your position.
While GMDSS uses VHF radio and digital GPS positioning to broadcast your position to nearby (up to 2 nautical miles) ships with radios. It’s an optional extra, but for the more adventurous diver, a potentially good investment. Read a review of the Nautilus Lifeline, a new model GMDSS unit.