SCUBA GADGETS THAT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE
The gear you dive in, by its very nature, preserves your life which is why you are taught to care for and maintain it. Look after it, and it will look after you is the underlying message and this is as true for your fin straps as it is your regulator. Beyond your standard set-up, there are some additional items you might want to stuff in your BCD pockets.
“You might not think you need one until you do!!” , NautilusLifeline.com
Location, location, location.
Personal locator beacons are no longer cost prohibitive; you likely spent more on your regulator, and there’s a growing number of liveaboard operators now listing PLBs as mandatory gear. In some very popular diving locations, getting swept away by the current is a very real danger and having a locator beacon makes you much easier to find. The faster you’re found, the more likely your survival. Amongst the commercial offerings, the Nautilus Lifeline is fast becoming the choice of ocean enthusiasts. Once purchased it’s free to use, rated to a depth of 125m (425 ft), accurate to 1.5m (5 ft) and very easy to use.
Modern technology aside there are some more analogue ways of both being seen and being found.
An SMB not only marks your position on the surface while you are underwater, which means you can surface knowing that boat traffic and surface support/tender collection can see where you are, but an SMB also has a few other uses too. It can be used to signal, get a large one, beyond 1.8m (6ft), and it can be raised to increase visibility in choppy seas where waves can obscure you. Get one with reflective strips and a method of hanging a chemical light or strobe, and you have nighttime visibility too.
The XS Scuba SMB has all these features and more.
(Note that the loop on which to hang a light can also be used to attach a slate and is a method tech divers use for getting information to the surface; an action you might want to remember in the case of a reverse block.)
We’ve all seen it in movies, but does signalling with a mirror work? The answer is, if it’s sunny, yes. Aiming does require a little skill, don’t expect to be able to pull out a mirror and catch your intendeds eye straight away. If you’re going to buy one, practice. The DAN Signalling Mirror comes with instructions and aiming hole to assist you; they’re cheap, compact, and you don’t need to change any batteries.
While we are on the subject of reflectiveness, the Aqualung Reflector Kit can be used on any BCD to add reflective material to the spiral hose and dump valve. If you love night diving, it’s a worthy investment.
Dyeing For It
A diver’s head bobbing around in the ocean is quite difficult to locate. Sure, an SMB makes you easier to see but, if you happen to be lost at sea, if there’s anything you can do to increase your size and make you easier to see you should do it. Rescue dye works by coloring up to 4.5sqm (50 sq foot) of the ocean and thereby assisting rescuers to locate you. Note that it dissipates so only deploy when a potential rescue approaches.
Nothing beats a whistle for both simplicity and effectiveness when it comes to attracting attention, and their size means there’s always room for one. Whistles are limited to above the surface use and, apart from that passing whale shark, there might be some more life-threatening reason you need to attract attention underwater. DiveAlert.com have some solutions for this problem from an air horn to a more discreet silent buddy alert system. Rattles and tank bangers work just as well; the key is to make sure your buddy knows what you are using and what it sounds like so that they are alert to the noise.
Getting Caught (Out)
Have you ever tried to break fishing line with your bare hands? It can’t be done. This nasty stuff is virtually invisible and very easy to get snagged on too. Without a dive knife, shears, or line cutter, you’re stuck. There’re so many types of cutting implements to choose from that a guide to buying one is a whole other subject. Succinctly; buy one that costs no more than you can afford to lose, is comfy in your hand, attaches to your gear so you can reach it easily, and, if possible, combines blade and line cutter.
On or Off
Have problems with left, and right? On and off? Are your children learning to dive? Do you want to be sure? The Vindicator Scuba Tank Valve Safety Handle allows you to be able to see, at a glance, whether the tank’s valve is open or closed which eliminates any ‘all-the-way-open-and-half-a-turn-closed’ mistakes.
What life-saving kit’s in your dive bag? Do you have any life-saving tips to share? Tell us below.