Buddy check procedures during the pandemic

Buddy check or also known as pre-dive safety check is an essential part of your pre-dive procedures. This is usually introduced during the Open Water Diver Course.  At Nemo Diving Center, we teach our divers to conduct a buddy check before entering the water to prevent diving accidents. We promote responsible scuba diving UAE by instilling the importance of safety. 

Pre-dive safety check is meant for all divers, regardless of level and skill. During a pre-dive safety check, you will go through a final inspection of your equipment as well as your buddy’s to ensure that everything is working properly before taking the plunge. 

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The acronym BWRAF is used in the standard PADI pre-dive safety check. This makes it easier to remember especially for beginners. BWRAF stands for:

  • BCD/Buoyancy
  • Weights
  • Releases
  • Air
  • Final OK

Some of the traditional pre-dive safety check procedures have been altered to keep up with the changes brought about by the pandemic. As we usher in a “new normal”, the dive industry has made necessary adjustments to keep the love for diving alive. 

Buddy check during the pandemic

B – BCD/Buoyancy

Traditionally, you are responsible for checking your buddy’s BCD before diving. Due to the threat of COVID-19 coronavirus, the safer alternative is for you to demonstrate to your buddy that everything is functioning well. Tug on your own low-pressure inflator hose to show your partner that it is securely fastened. Next, inflate and deflate your BCD using the mechanical inflator. While maintaining social distancing, show the location of your dump valves and demonstrate that your quick releases and toggles are not entangled. Don’t hesitate to ask your buddy to repeat something if there is doubt in your mind about the condition or function of equipment. 

In this age of COVID-19, it is not safe to orally inflate a BCD used by different people. If not properly disinfected, there is a risk of getting the virus if the equipment was used by an infected person. At Nemo Diving Center, we thoroughly sanitize the components of the BCD to ensure the safety of our divers. 

W – Weights 

It is important to ensure that weights are properly secured. The traditional checking of weights has been modified to observe proper social distancing. Instead of checking each other’s weights, you can make your own demonstration in front of your dive partner. 

Show your buddy that your weights are properly secured by gently tugging on PC weight pouches. This action will confirm if they are safely locked to avoid accidentally losing them during your entry into the water. For weight belts, show the buckle to ensure that it is properly fastened and has the recommended right-handed release. Wrap extra length around the remaining belt. 

R – Releases

Similar to weights show your partner that everything is properly in place and fastened securely. Point the location of your buckles and clips. After that, explain how the clips are released. 

The social distancing protocols may prevent your partner from checking your tank strap. The best alternative is to demonstrate to your buddy that your tank straps are secured and not loose. 

A- Air

You can check air and still follow social distancing measures by verifying to your buddy that your cylinder valve is fully open and that the SPG reads full. Do this before putting on your gear. 

The traditional pre-dive safety check includes checking the alternate air source of your buddy. This involves breathing on your primary second stage while your buddy breathes from the octopus at the same time. This process enables you and your buddy to monitor the SPG together. This safety step may not be ideal at the moment due to COVID-19.

A possible solution to this predicament is to allow your buddy and no one else to breathe from the octopus. Your partner can test the breathability of the alternate without going against social distancing measures before he puts on his gear.  

F – Final Check

For the final check, make sure that everything is in place. There should be no dangling equipment and no loose hoses. Securing all equipment and accessories will prevent you from getting entangled or accidentally damaging the sensitive reef.