Buddy check: What is BWRAF & why is it important

The buddy check is a fundamental part of diving because it can help prevent underwater accidents from happening which is a safety procedure usually introduced during the Open Water Diving Course.

source: Nemo Diving Center FB page

Sadly, some divers who gain more experience tend to neglect the importance of a customary buddy check because they think that they know the drill all too well after going through it multiple times. In fact, some divers would simply ask, “Are you good?” and proceed with diving.

We, at Nemo Diving Center, believe in the importance of a proper buddy because all it takes is just a few minutes of your time to ensure your well-being underwater. This safety check should always be performed by every diver, regardless of the level of diving proficiency. Keep in mind that most diving accidents can be prevented by undergoing a simple pre-dive safety check but if you skip procedures, you might be putting yourself and your dive buddy at risk.

Learn the PADI’s BWRAF acronym by heart

Whether you’re a new diver or a seasoned one, the mnemonic “Begin with Review and Friend” – BWRAF – can help you remember the important buddy check steps.

B for BCD/Buoyancy – Begin by checking if your buddy’s buoyancy compensator is functioning properly and the low-pressure inflator (LPI) hose is well connected. Make a quick puff then ensure that the inflator button does not stick and the quick releases and toggles are not entangled. It’s also important to deflate the BCD to determine if the deflate valves are working correctly. You should also make it a point to check your own buoyancy to find out if you are weighted appropriately.

W for Weights/Weight Belt – Just imagine losing your weight belt during a back roll entry in the water? It would be a terrible thing to delay or worse postpone a dive when something like that happens but don’t worry you can avoid this kind of scenario by inspecting all of your partner’s weights and vice versa to determine if they are securely in place. Next, find out if the weight belt is fitted properly with the loose end tied in such a way that it permits for quick release. It’s also highly recommended that you familiarize yourself with your companion’s type of weight belt and weights so you can release them if the need arises.

R for Releases – Determine if your partner’s BCD is appropriately strapped on and all corresponding belts are tightened and inform your partner how to open the release in case of an underwater emergency. It is also important to count the number of straps including the tank strap and tug them one by one to guarantee that they are all properly secured. Go through the hoses and other items to find out if there is anything that might hinder your buddy from getting out of his equipment in case of an emergency situation.

source: Nemo Diving Center FB page

A for Air – Looking at your companion’s SPG is not enough to know whether he has the proper tank pressure or not. The best thing to do is to fully open the cylinder valve then make your buddy take a few normal breaths while you look at his pressure gauge and check for fluctuations in the needle. Another option is to purge the regulator while you observe the needle. Do this for both the primary regulator and alternate source of air to check if the tank is full and if there are any leaks on the air connectors.

F for Final Check – The last step involves a visual inspection of all your diving gear which consists of your snorkel, mask, fins, dive torch (if needed), and other devices. Fix any loose hoses or items that may sway while diving and hit the reef. Confirm that your dive computer is functioning before you give the all-OK sign to your buddy that you are ready to begin the descent.

PADI created the mnemonic BWRAF, Begin With Review And Friend to make it easy for divers like you to remember the pre-dive buddy check. Remembering it by heart is one way of preventing the most common dive issues from happening and keeping yourself and your buddy safe when you explore the colorful world beneath the waves.

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