>Many popular diving locations such as South Florida, Cozumel, the Puget Sound and some parts of Fiji have strong currents. Drift diving is popular in these places. Occasionally divers are separated from their group or boat in the currents. In these environments, all divers should carry both visual and audible surface-signaling devices. Many training organizations now require their instructors to carry both types of devices at all times, which demonstrates how critical they are to safety. Audible signaling devices include whistles and air-activated horns such as the DiveAlert. Visual signaling devices include surface marker buoys (SMBs, or "safety sausages"), signaling mirrors and even marine flares. A slight ocean swell or some surface chop can make it very difficult to find a lost diver without one of these important yet relatively inexpensive safety devices.
>Most divers don't think of boots and gloves as safety equipment, but they can be. Obviously, these afford thermal protection in cold water, but they also provide protection from other aspects of the marine environment. In some areas the use of dive gloves has been discouraged in an effort to protect the reef, but gloves can protect divers' hands from cuts, abrasions and irritation as they descend or ascend on anchor or mooring lines. Gloves can also prevent cuts from sharp metal on wrecks. A diver left behind by a boat or carried away by a current might have to swim to shore and walk across a reef or rocky terrain to exit the water; foot protection could make a real difference in the outcome for a diver stranded in a remote location.
>A newer piece of safety equipment that has become available recently is the Nautilus Lifeline, a compact, waterproof marine VHF radio with built-in GPS locator technology that can be used in the water while on the surface. If no boat is in sight upon surfacing, a diver can simply push the Lifeline button to send an alert message with his exact GPS position to boats within several miles (up to 12 miles in ideal conditions). The Lifeline is waterproof to a depth of 425 feet and can serve as an emergency signaling and communication device for divers and small watercraft operators. The device can fit into a BCD pocket or can be clipped to the BCD.
>Dive first aid kits are essential for dealing with underwater or on-water injuries. First aid supplies should be kept in waterproof containers to protect them from the wet environment. Remote diving adventures require more extensive first aid kits. Oxygen units are essential for onsite treatment of decompression illness and submersion incidents. Many dive fatalities are related to sudden cardiac arrest; an automated external defibrillator (AED) at the dive site or on the dive boat increases the chance of survivability. DAN® offers a variety of first aid kits and emergency oxygen units in waterproof containers designed for the marine environment.
>There are many different pieces of equipment that scuba divers can carry with them to increase their safety and improve their ability to help others. Effective emergency assistance requires good planning and having the right equipment on hand — as well as the skills and knowledge to use it. Make sure you always bring the right emergency and safety gear for the environment and conditions in which you are diving.
>© Alert Diver —Winter 2014