Scuba Diving Safety Equipment: Stay Safe Diving

Scuba Diving Safety Equipment - Stay Safe Diving

If you are a seasoned scuba diver like me, then you’ll already have the scuba diving safety equipment you like to have on dives. But the type of scuba diving safety equipment you have on a dive will often depend on the type of dive you are doing.

The type of scuba diving safety equipment you use will depend on the type of diving you do, but you should consider adding a DSMB, depth gauge, dive tables, a dive watch, a marine rescue GPS device and a tank banger as safety equipment to most dives.

With that in mind, I am going to approach this article by looking at the types of diving you might do, and which pieces of scuba diving safety equipment might be needed for that type of dive. Having said that, on some dives, what might be described as safety equipment becomes essential equipment for another type of dive.

For example, some argue that a torch is safety equipment for all dives. However, I’m not quite sure how you would do a night dive without a torch. This means for night diving a torch becomes essential scuba diving equipment instead (but there is safety equipment for night dives too, as you’ll see below).

Before I begin to list what scuba diving safety equipment is needed for different dive types, and in fact what I even consider to be safety equipment, let me cover what equipment you need for scuba diving; i.e. scuba diving equipment I consider essential to even dive in the first place.

What equipment do you need for scuba diving?

What equipment do you need for scuba diving?

To go diving, every diver, regardless of the type of dive needs:

* Some divers suggest that a dive computer should be included in the list of scuba diving safety equipment. I can understand why some say this, but these days a dive computer has become an essential piece of kit for diving in my opinion. It’s a bit like a mobile phone, there aren’t many people who don’t have mobile phones these days, whereas only a few years ago this wasn’t the case.

** Some divers suggest that a compass is an add-on piece of scuba diving safety equipment, but I disagree. In my opinion, no matter the type of dive, it’s possible you may need to use your compass. Even PADI disagree with me, as they don’t teach underwater navigation during the Open Water Course, as this is an extra charge for an underwater navigation course. Whereas with BSAC, underwater navigation is included in the basic training for Ocean Diver.

So now that part is out of the way, this part of the article is about the scuba diving safety equipment you may need, which is added to your essential scuba diving equipment for safe diving.

Scuba diving safety equipment table

The following scuba diving safety equipment table includes:

  1. Additional diving equipment for the type of dive (i.e. it’s no longer safety equipment, but essential for the type of diving);
  2. Scuba diving safety equipment; and
  3. Useful additional equipment to help you enjoy diving that little bit more.
Scuba diving safety equipment table by type of dive

Scuba diving safety equipment table by type of dive

 Shore DiveNight DiveWreck DiveDrift DiveDeep Dive (i.e. greater than 40m or 131ft)Low Vis Dive
Additional essential equipment requiredNone1. Diver's torch.1. Diver's torch.1. Surface marker buoy.1. Depth gauge, diver's watch and dive tables, or better still a backup dive computer.1. Diver's torch.
Scuba diving safety equipment1. Delayed surface marker buoy. (DSMB).
2. Depth gauge.*
3. Diver's watch.
4. Dive tables.
5. Cutting tool including a diver's knife.
6. Marine rescue GPS device.
7. Tank banger or rattle stick.
1. Backup torch.
2. Strobe light.
3. Depth gauge.
4. Diver's watch.
5. Dive tables.
6. Cutting tool including a diver's knife.
7. Whistle or air horn.
8. Marine rescue GPS device.
9. Tank banger or rattle stick.
1. DSMB.
2. Depth gauge.
3. Diver's watch.
4. Dive tables.
5. Cutting tool including a diver's knife.
6. Line for wreck penetration.***
7. Backup torch.****
8. Marine rescue GPS device.
9. Tank banger or rattle stick.
1. DSMB.
2. Depth gauge.
3. Diver's watch.
4. Dive tables.
5. Cutting tool including a diver's knife.
6. Marine rescue GPS device.
7. Tank banger or rattle stick.
1. Alternative air source.
2. DSMB.
3. Cutting tool including a diver's knife.
4. Marine rescue GPS device.
5. Tank banger or rattle stick.
1. Buddy line.
2. Delayed surface marker buoy. (DSMB).
3. Depth gauge.*
4. Diver's watch.
5. Dive tables.
6. Cutting tool including a diver's knife.
7. Marine rescue GPS device.
8. Tank banger or rattle stick.
Useful additional equipment1. Diver's torch.**
2. Diver's slate.
3. Underwater camera.
1. Diver's slate.
2. Underwater camera.
1. Diver's slate.
2. Underwater camera.
1. Diver's torch.
2. Diver's slate.
3. Underwater camera.
1. Diver's torch
2. Diver's slate.
3. Underwater camera.
1. Diver's slate.
2. Underwater camera.
Notes:
* The depth gauge is as a backup if your dive computer fails.
** I consider a divers torch as very useful diver's kit on all dives to illuminate under crevices etc.
*** You only need a line for wreck penetration on certain wreck dives when the exit is not obvious and you may have to return to the entry point.
**** A backup torch on a wreck dive will only be necessary for dives where there are no clear exit points.
See below for a brief explanation for each piece of scuba diving safety equipment listed.

What gear keeps a diver safe?

The scuba diving safety equipment listed in the above table requires a bit more of an explanation, as follows:

Delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB)

A delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) is a part of my dive kit I carry on nearly all dives.

A delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) is a diver’s buoy that’s deployed at the end of a dive and used to aid the diver’s ascent. It also signals to the boat skipper that divers are on their ascent and marks their position.

Delayed surface marker buoys are particularly useful for spotting divers in seas with big swells.

Depth gauge

A depth gauge is a handy backup if your dive computer packs-up during a dive, which is what happened to me this week. But for this to be useful, you need to know what time you entered the water, which is why a watch is also a useful piece of scuba diving safety equipment too.

If you want to be able to safely continue your dive if your dive computer fails, a depth gauge will allow you to do so. Plus it’s a cheaper option than buying a backup dive computer.

You’ll notice that I have included a depth gauge as essential equipment vs additional safety equipment for deep dives.

Diver’s watch

You don’t need a diver’s watch for diving, but for your own safety it’s worth having one. It’s always worth making a note of the time you entered the water, so that if your dive computer fails, you know how long you’ve been on the dive.

If you combine using your diver’s watch with having a backup depth gauge, you should be able to continue the dive safely.

However, unless you can remember your dive tables, you may wish to take one of these on your dive too.

Dive tables

Unless you’ve memorised your dive tables, it’s unlikely you’ll remember these if your dive computer fails. However, if you have a depth gauge, a diver’s watch and dive tables with you, you’ll be able to continue your dive safely.

Having said that you may want to add a depth gauge, a diver’s watch and dive tables as safety equipment for diving, there’s no problem if you wish to rely on your dive buddy’s dive computer, assuming they have one and it also doesn’t fail.

However, in all the dives that I’ve done, which is a lot of dives, I’ve never know two dive computers to fail on the same dive.

Cutting tool including a diver’s knife

There is always the chance that you may need a cutting tool or a diver’s knife on a dive. This is especially true if you are diving on the coast of the UK where lots of fishermen’s lines that get snagged in rocks.

A diver’s knife or cutting tool may be needed to cut you free in the case you get tangled in fishing line or similar.

Whistle or air horn

Having a whistle or an airhorn as a signalling device is mostly used on the surface to attract attention.

I will admit I don’t have one of these, but it would have been useful more recently on a dive in Barbados when I surfaced and the boat skipper was asleep on the boat.

I had to surface early from the dive, as I wasn’t feeling too well, which the skipper hadn’t expected. I spent a good 20-30 minutes bobbing around on the surface waiting for him to spot me and my DSMB!

When you’re out at sea, and even if you shout, your voice doesn’t carry as well as a whistle or an air horn will.

Note to self… get an air horn or whistle!

Marine rescue GPS device

When you’re diving in more remote locations, and particularly in places with stronger currents, for example when diving on Elphinstone Reef, a marine rescue GPS device would be a good piece of scuba diving safety equipment to have.

in the past divers have been lost in the currents around Elphinstone Reef. If they’d had GPS devices, perhaps they might have been found.

Some dive liveaboards have marine rescue GPS device technology on the boat for safety, which means your boat can track your location to within a few feet in case of emergency.

Tank banger or rattle stick

I have included a tank banger or rattle stick as scuba diving safety equipment, which is on the basis that if you get into trouble and you want to attract your dive buddy’s attention quickly, you may need one of these.

If you run out of air (which you shouldn’t if you check your air regularly), or if your regulator fails, speed is of the essence, and you may need to get the attention of your buddy quickly.

I’ve had to save two divers underwater in my time, so I know how important it is to act very fast. Having said that, it is for this reason that I never stray too far from my dive buddy.

Strobe light

A strobe light is very useful to attack to your BCD on a night dive. If your dive torch fails, and supposing you don’t have a backup torch, your buddy will be able to spot you by your strobe light.

Also, if you surface away from the dive boat and your torch is no longer working, a strobe light will make you far easier to see in the dark.

Buddy line

A buddy line is useful on low visibility dives or on drift dives with poor visibility. A buddy line is a line that simply attaches you to your dive buddy, and makes it impossible to get separated.

Alternative air source

An alternative air source is only to be used in an emergency to get you back to the surface if your main air source runs out or has a failure.

An alternative air source should really only be needed on deep dives beyond 40 metres (132 feet).

Whereas for most dives, and in the event of a problem for one or other buddy’s air source, the use of an octopus setup should be sufficient. It has been my octopus setup I’ve used in both rescues that I’ve had to perform, which worked perfectly well.

Wreck penetration line

If you are planning a dive to penetrate a wreck, where the exit is no obvious or if you have to return to the entry point, a wreck penetration line may be necessary for your own safety.

A wreck penetration line will help you to return to your entry, which will come I handy especially if you end up stirring up silt inside the wreck. It’s very easy to get disoriented inside a wreck, especially if you can no longer see due to silt.

I hope you enjoyed this page about scuba diving safety equipment

If you have more questions either about snorkelling or scuba diving (or specifically about scuba diving safety equipment), please comment below with your questions. Also, please let me know what you consider as essential or scuba diving safety equipment that you use on a dive.

Please share your experiences, plus dive sites, resorts and liveaboards you recommend. Share the time of year of your trip together with what you saw, the visibility, currents and dive operator, as this will help others who read this page.

There will also be many more pages and articles about scuba and scuba diving safety tips (and on snorkelling too) for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport.

Have fun and be safe!

Scuba Diving Safety Equipment: Stay Safe Diving

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top