Why do divers check so much and the buddy check is so important.

Even though some divers may not believe it: when we dive we are in a dangerous world. I don’t want to go so far as to say that diving is fundamentally dangerous, but there are a few things to keep in mind and do to ensure that you don’t expose yourself to danger as a diver.

Almost every diver learns in his basic training (Open Water Diver or similar) and many are also still in the advanced courses, that the buddy check is not only important but also belongs to every dive … and that before the dive. For those divers who did not learn the buddy check in the basic diver training, a new school is urgently recommended. Because who knows what else they have forgotten.
No diving day is like the other. And without getting philosophical now: the antecedents of every dive are different. The one has stress at home or slept badly, the other was arranged to dive and is too late. Be that as it may, one can run off track sometimes, even as a professional diver. If you know your buddy for a long time, you might see it on his or her face, but you never know. Now he stands there, the buddy has 1000 other things on his mind and assembles his equipment. No matter beginners, master divers, or diving instructors: every one of us has made a mistake or has been careless. Except for those who do not admit it! And for this case is the Buddy Check.

Here’s my Buddy Checklist:

  • Even before assembling the unit, I talk to my buddy, whether I know him or her already or not. You get so already relatively easy an impression, as the Buddy is just like he/she is.
  • During the assembly, you can already take one or the other equipment of the Buddy in sight … perhaps shortly after the assembly already look together. Because especially on dive boats, it must often then go quickly when you have reached the dive site.
  • Even submerged divers who are traveling with experience should ask questions: “How does the lead system?” “How does the inflator?” … This is interpreted as interest.
  • Many divers do not like it when you touch their cylinder valve (I do not either). Therefore, just ask if the bottle is turned up or if you should look.
  • Makes a boat dive or is it a foot march to the dive site check with your buddy together, whether you also have everything with you. Even the most experienced divers have already gone to the dive site without weights.
  • If you have already seen that your buddy has tested his two automats, you do not need to fiddle with it.

If you have already looked at all these points before diving, you don’t need to do all this in the seconds before the dive. I then usually ask:
Air? Lead? Is everything solid? Well then go!

In the water, on the water surface, everyone checks than for itself again the systems and shows the buddy that everything is OK. Then we’re ready to go.

And for those who want to do it by the textbook, here’s the checklist:

  • Mask present?
  • Did tank turn open?
  • Jacket: chest strap, belly strap, function inflator and quick releases, fit of the jacket, lead
  • Function octopus
  • Function main automatic (2nd stage)
  • Check air pressure
  • Suit closed (especially for dry divers)
  • Fins, possibly gloves, and headgear
  • … and with a buddy, you do not know: look at the computer (if it says “Error”, “No Dive” or so, let it explain). In case of doubt inform the instructor of the dive center.
  • at night dives additionally a function of the lamp


But as already written: for many of these points, one look is enough when you get yourself and the buddy ready. For that you don’t have to face each other in front of gathered divers like in a boxing match and feel each other up. However, if you like that, you should do it (with a wink)


… or a look is worth a thousand words.

It’s time while getting dressed, possibly on the boat and on the surface of the water, just before it went into the deep water, we made sure that each other is fine. Then we are ready to go. As the liquid slowly envelops us completely, our dependence on each other becomes even more intense. Because now it applies. Both want to dive relaxed. But are they also both?

When properly planned, the first common depth is reached, stopped, and once again an OK sign is demanded. And even though everyone in the group, yes even your own buddy gives the OK sign, something may be wrong. How many times have I seen, with teeth clenched, the back-down slipping tank being tried to be held while the OK sign was given, or the buddy giving it while looking through a completely filled mask? For many divers, it is peer pressure to give the OK sign even though it does not describe the true condition. It is readily perceived as a weakness to show a non-OK. After all, you want to be just as good as the other divers. And then a non-OK would be the wrong signal.

If one asks those, why they showed OK, although it was not OK, one gets gladly the answer that they had planned to solve the problem themselves. But isn’t that what buddies are for?

I personally like to check on my buddy during the dive. In doing so, a look into his eyes says much more about his condition than permanently demanding the OK sign. Also a look at his equipment, without feeling him up, should always be included. Mostly I know its bottle filling degree already, without having asked him/her.
These small, unnoticed attentions provide for the necessary confidence, without being obtrusive. Of course, this is not an appeal not to ask for the OK sign from time to time, because there are also things that you do not see from the outside. But it doesn’t have to be every 3 minutes when you check on your buddy.

Looking in the eyes is especially important to me. Fears, stress, excitement, problems, and discomfort are reflected here as well as relaxation and a good feeling. And especially if it is not a normal dive, but means depth, wreck, night, or cave, the buddy should be fine.

Personally, I think that reporting a problem is a strength, not a weakness.
But I also rely on my buddies as they do on me.
And if I have a problem that I don’t report, I can’t be a good buddy for my buddy.

Therefore, take care of yourself even underwater. A glance is worth a thousand words.