How to be the best dive buddy you can be

What is the number one rule when scuba diving? …"Never dive alone!" Whether you have ten dives in your log book, or you have been diving for decades, the same rule applies for everyone. It is so important to know that you have someone closeby to help you in the unlikely event that an emergency situation occurs.

A dive buddy is so much more than just emergency support, though! A dive buddy is someone to swap stories with, create memories with, and hopefully become a lifelong friend. Are you a good dive buddy? What exactly makes someone a good dive buddy? How could you become a better one? We are going to help you become the best dive buddy you can be while scuba diving.

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What does a dive buddy do?

A dive buddy is another diver who you look out for, and who looks out for you when scuba diving.

Your main job as a buddy is to provide safety. You will provide air to your dive buddy, if they should ever need it. The experience and training you get from your scuba diving courses provide you with the skills you need to handle an emergency situation. You also learn other ways in which to be a good dive buddy.

A good dive buddy has well maintained equipment, for example regularly serviced regulators and tanks that can be relied on in an emergency. A good dive buddy is also a role model to those less experienced. This includes following rules, diving within your limits, not touching or chasing marine life, and being kind and helpful to divers who are struggling or nervous.

You can expand your knowledge and become an even better dive buddy by signing up for further diving education.

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Top tips to be the best dive buddy you can be

1.Be sociable

Not everyone gets to go on dive trips with their close friends, you might sometimes find yourself diving with strangers. But you do have one thing in common with those strangers: Scuba diving! Once divers start chatting about their favorite fish, their best diving memories, or their top diving location, it does not take them long to become great friends. When you become friends with someone it is easier for them to relax in your company, and trust you as a dive buddy. So get chummy, and build those important bonds at the dive center or on the way to the dive site before you dive underwater with them.

2. Practice hand signals

Unfortunately we cannot talk underwater. This is why it is important to know hand signals, and make sure you and your dive buddy understand each other’s hand signals before entering the water. The most important hand signals for scuba diving include:

- "OK(?)" (question and answer)

- "Up" and "Down"

- "How much air do you have?" (and how to answer this question")

- "Low on air"

- "Out of air"

- "Turn around"

- "Look"

- "Come up/down to my level"

- "Safety stop"

You can also practice hand signals for marine life you are likely to spot so you can point things out to each other along the way.

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3. Plan, plan, plan

Having a plan for the dive, and discussing it with your buddy or dive group is an extremely important part of making sure a dive is safe. Planning a dive should answer questions such as:

  • Where will you enter the water?
  • How will you enter the water?
  • Who is leading the dive?
  • Which way are you heading around the dive site?
  • Does everyone in the group have a dive buddy?
  • When will you turn the dive to head back?
  • Where will you exit the dive?
  • If you are drifting, where will the boat pick you up?
  • What do you do if you lose your buddy or dive group?
  • What do you do if you hit strong currents?
  • How and where will you do your safety stop?

4. Stay close together

A rough rule for dive buddies is to always be able to touch hands if you were to both reach out. You might choose to stay closer than this in poorer visibility, however. If you were to lose your dive buddy, you would have to surface. This can ruin a dive trip and make you miss out on exciting underwater treats. It also increases your risk of a serious problem if no one is there to help you in an emergency. So stay close to your buddy, look over at them regularly, and make sure you are there if they need you.

5. Handle problems with empathy and understanding

If you believe that your dive buddy is doing something wrong, it is important to tell them in a way that will not escalate the situation or trigger aggression. If you are underwater, gently tap them on the shoulder and use hand signals such as waving your finger to say "do not do that" or shaking your head. You could signal "stay closer" by bringing your two index fingers together if they are swimming too far away from you or the group. If you feel the need to discuss the situation afterwards, approach them calmly, and explain nicely, remember, not everyone understands that their behavior is wrong, and most people appreciate constructive criticism if it is given with respect.

6. Exit the dive safely and together

When the dive is over, stay close to your dive buddy and perform the safety stop together, once it is over, surface together too. You can help your buddy exit the water by holding their fins, supporting their tank, or helping them to take off their BCD. Team work makes the dream work!

7. Stay in touch

Swap email addresses or social media handles to tag each other in photos and posts from your amazing dive experience together. Staying in touch might secure a reliable dive buddy for future adventures!

8. Education is power

A good dive buddy is always open to learning more. Your scuba diving skills can always be improved on. The more experienced you become, the better dive buddy you will be because you will have confidence in your diving skills. There are many courses you can sign up for to expand on your diving knowledge. There are also blogs, books, articles, podcasts, and documentariesout there to learn even more.

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Has a dive buddy ever helped you in an emergency situation?