When you learn to dive one of the most important things you’ll be taught is your 5-point pre-dive safety check. This is often referred to as the buddy check because it will be done with your dive buddy. This set of checks, which can be remembered with the acronym BWRAF, will be the very last thing you do before you enter the water. Even if you’ve been a PADI qualified diver for years, it’s always good to review the 5 points and make sure you are running through them before every single dive.
Check 1 – BCD
The B in the acronym stands for BCD or Buoyance Compensation Device. The first step in the check is to make sure both your inflators and releases are functioning properly. This should be done even before you put on your BCD as putting on all your gear before it’s necessary can be uncomfortable. You and your buddy will also need to check your tank straps to make sure your tanks are securely in place and will not slip.
Check 2: Weights
W stands for the weights that help to keep you submerged when you dive. This isn’t the time to be adjusting the weights but to make sure your belts are secured firmly and the weights are evenly distributed around the belt. It’s also important to ensure the quick release is functioning and you both know how to release it quickly and smoothly.
Check 3: Releases
R is for releases, which refers to the releases on your BCDs. Each one should be checked to make sure they are secure and there is nothing that could hinder them functioning properly. The waist or cummerbund and shoulder straps should sit flat to the body and be tightened securely. Any equipment or straps hanging from the BCD should be secured or tucked away to avoid anything becoming entangled or caught.
Check 4: Air
You might think that A for air would be the first check, but in fact all the other checks are just as important as this one. Both your and your buddy’s tanks should be checked thoroughly. The tank valve should be fully open and you must take turns taking a few full breaths from the regulator while you watch one another’s pressure gauges. If the gauge doesn’t remain steady, there could be a serious problem. Your alternate air supplies must be checked in exactly the same way.
Check 5: Final
The last letter is F for Final. This is the last chance to check everything over before you and your buddy get in the water. Is everything ready to go? Is there anything sticking out, uncomfortable, or any final adjustments? This is the time to do that because it gets way harder to move things around underwater. If there is absolutely anything that is making you uneasy at this point, don’t hesitate to ask your dive instructor or guide. If all feels good, your mask and fins should be to hand and you are ready to get in the water!
Some divers get so used to their gear and diving that they don’t always do these checks. Do you do the 5-step BWRAF check before every dive? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments box below.