I will admit there was a time that I neglected a proper buddy check. However after completing my DM and leading lots of different people I realised what I should always have known; the Buddy check should never be omitted!
If you’re PADI then you’ll have learned BWRAF but I see many people who don’t really do the different aspects fully. Buoyancy is more than just a quick inflation! Make sure you check your buddy’s BC – it’s not just about your own. Also check they know how to orally inflate.
When it comes to weights take your time to know where all the weights are how to release them. Weights may be in more than one place! And check the weight belt hasn’t been tucked in so that if you pull the end it doesn’t release if you pull it. With releases I start at the top and work my way down! And I actually undo them if they’re not familiar to me. And check the cylinder too. If you get a slip (and I have often) then you will need to know this! With air ensure you’re both breathing on both the reg and the octopus at the same time, looking at the gauge. It isn’t just a quick puff on yours!
The final OK is just as important as any other aspect. This is the chance for someone to pull out of the dive if they want to – and they are allowed to with no questions asked. It’s vital that openness is there any no one is pushed to dive. There’s always another dive.
This is far from an exhaustive list and far from a model of what to do. It’s a general discussion raising the awareness of the buddy check and the fact that it shouldn’t be omitted. It isn’t the only chance to check equipment – this would happen before – and it isn’t the time to plan – again this would have happened before. But it is the last check before the dive starts. Diving is safe – when it’s done well and when divers have the skills to respond to situations. But there are risks so why would you not take a few minutes to ensure your dive is as safe as it can be?
Please feel free to add your comments below and any experiences that have arisen from the lack of a buddy check! We can all learn from experience – and that’s our’s and other’s. But whatever… keep buddy checking!!!