Safety Check – Before You Dive


A valuable part of your dive equipment can be your dive watch. However there is a lot of equipment involved when it comes to diving, and one should make sure all the appropriate safety measures  have been taken before getting in the water. There are quite a few lists, tips and procedures when it comes to making sure everything is in check, however some form of Buddy Check system is recommended. Below, we have a brief review of the recommended procedures to take before getting in the water. However, more detailed handbooks can be found that are provided by the U.S. Navy and other government agencies to insure the safety of divers.


There are several formats of buddy check, but almost all cover these four aspects:

  • Checks on breathing apparatus function and breathing gas supply.
  • Checks on buoyancy and weighting equipment.
  • Checks on harness security and connectors, and quick release functions.
  • Checks on hose routing, attachment and presence of auxiliary equipment: Mask, dive computer, knife etc.

Buddy checks may be extended to include aspects of dive planning, to ensure that the divers are agreed on the intended activity and contingency plans. When larger groups and more complex dive plans are involved this would be considered part of the dive briefing.

  • Risk assessment update
  • Emergency plans
  • Contingency plans
  • Dive plan, including planned activities, route, decompression if applicable, and who will lead.

Breathing apparatus checks

  • Adequate supply of breathing gases. (cylinder volume and pressure checks)
  • Suitable type and quality of breathing gas. (correctly and unambiguously identified if applicable)
  • Cylinders mounted securely and accessibly.
  • Valves opened or closed as planned, accessible if applicable.
  • Demand valves functioning correctly. (work of breathing low, no leaks or free-flows)
  • Hose routing correct, no kinks or hoses trapped under other equipment, pressure gauges accessible.
  • Demand valves secured correctly where applicable.

For re-breathers the list is longer and may include:

  • Oxygen monitoring functioning if applicable.
  • Pre-breathing has been done to ensure scrubber function.

Buoyancy and weighting equipment checks

  • Low pressure inflation hose secure and free of leaks.
  • Operation of inflation and deflation valves to ensure that BCD can be filled and vented.
  • Oral inflation valve function.
  • Dump valves function and accessible.
  • Weight belts or weight pockets in place and have the correct weight to compensate for the diving suit and other equipment.
  • Trim weights secured if applicable.
  • Dry suit inflation hose connected if applicable, inflation valve functions without sticking.

Harness security and release function checks

  • Scuba/BCD harness adjusted and secured, buckles accessible for quick release as applicable. Straps adjusted and lying flat.
  • Weight belt secured, buckle accessible. Belt free to drop clear if ditched in an emergency. Integrated weight system pockets secure, accessible and free to ditch in an emergency.
  • Other equipment attached to the diver secure, accessible and can be removed if necessary.

Presence and condition of required equipment

  • Diving suit fasteners done up correctly, Dry suit zipper closed, neck and wrist seals lying smooth and good fit.
  • Mask (and snorkel if applicable)
  • Fins
  • Depth gauge and timer or dive computer. Computer set to correct gas if applicable.
  • Diver’s knife or cutting implement secure and accessible.
  • Compass, slate, cameras etc. secure.

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