Dive Safety – The Buddy Check
The Buddy Check
The buddy check is taught in all Open Water scuba diving courses. It is essential to ensure safe and comfortable diving with your scuba diving buddy and should be done before every dive.
How to remember it
The PADI acronym used is BWRAF but this varies with different languages. BWRAF stands for BCD, weights, releases, air, and final ok. The standard text book saying is ‘Begin with review and friend’, but there are many other ways to remember it such as ‘Burger with relish and fries’, ‘Blonde women really are fun’, ‘big white rabbits are fluffy’ etc.
With many different styles of BCD and multiple dump valves and straps it’s good to locate your buddies release locations and mechanisms, especially with some BCD’s not having a hose but a central mechanism for all dump valves.
Inflator and deflate buttons also come in different shapes and sizes, so test them including orally inflating you buddies BCD in case you have to disconnect the inflator hose or an out of air emergency.
There is nothing more embarrassing than jumping in without a weight belt on, many of us have done it but hate to admit it! With modern integrated weight systems you should be familiar with how the weight pockets of your buddies BCD works and how they are secured back into place.
At the end of a night dive in Egypt I had one diver hanging on to the mooring line upside down trying to complete his safety stop because one of his weight pockets had slipped out during his dive.
Releases are not standard, they have pinch clips, push buttons and tank release clamps, so checking the releases of your buddy, means you know where and how to release his/her BCD in an emergency.
One release that is often forgotten is the tank band release which can expand and loosen when wet, so it’s a good idea to wet this band before securing it to the tank to make sure it’s tight enough. During the buddy check get your buddy to jump up and down or give a little wiggle to check the tank is secure.
Often tanks are turned on to visually inspect that there is enough air in the tank before setting off in the boat to the scuba diving site, then closed again for the journey. If the pressure is not purged from the hoses then the gauge will still read as a full tank. Breathing through your primary reg while looking at your gauge will soon show if your tank is fully or partially off.
Alternate air sources are also located in different places, and secured by different methods, ball shape okky holders, magnets or mouthpiece holders, that may be different from your own. This is your emergency air, make sure you know how to get it and that it breathes ok.
So you have done your final check, set your correct percentage of Nitrox, made sure your camera is sealed, you mask is defogged, then you jump in without your fins on. Yes, I have seen it done. The final Ok is to check you have everything you need for the dives and your camera is not still sitting on the dive deck when you see your first whale shark.
So on your next dive, don’t skip the buddy check, it’s a benefit for both you and your buddy to have a safe, relaxed, stress free dive.
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