Signaling distress is a fundamental survival skill every scuba diver should possess. Emergency signaling devices range from pyrotechnic flares and electronic transmitters capable of broadcasting signals with 406 MHz radio frequencies to fire alarm bells that signal emergency situations.
No single emergency signaling device can satisfy every possible circumstance; therefore it’s wise to carry multiple types of emergency devices for optimal use in all circumstances. This article discusses all available devices for scuba divers and provides tips for choosing, using, and storing them effectively.
Safety sausages (sometimes known as delayed surface marker buoys or DSMBs) are essential items for divers. Not only can it help the boat find you quickly in case you get separated while diving, it will also let people on the surface know where you are located if needed. Therefore it is advised that divers bring one with them on every dive.
As part of your Open Water Course, you’ll learn to inflate and deploy a safety sausage. While using one underwater can be tricky at first, with practice it becomes second nature quickly. To maximize safety when practicing this skill, consider practicing alongside someone familiar with using them so you’re confident knowing what steps to take should the need arise.
Your safety sausage inflates using one of several methods depending on its model. Some models come equipped with a stem that you must press with your mouth in order to inflate it, while other versions feature plastic valves through which air can be released similar to when inflating beach balls and snorkels. Furthermore, reels may be attached at either end so that it can be released by using your BCD inflator hose.
Most sausages have an “Eat by” or “Best Before” date printed on them that outlines when their peak quality can be enjoyed. Though you can still use it after this date has passed, its flavor or quality may no longer match what was expected.
Inflatable Signal Tubes
Emergency surface signaling devices should fit the way you dive, gear and area in which it operates. A PADI dive professional can help you select audible and visual devices suitable for your diving habits, gear and area of the world – for instance in areas where divers often become separated from their boat during dives, having something easily visible helps you avoid becoming stranded at the surface.
An inflatable signal tube can help ensure that you’re noticed after diving if you need to return back to the boat after an unexpectedly deep dive. These tubes typically come in bright orange for high visibility, and some models are radar reflective so they can be seen by boat crew up to 1 km (half a mile away). They attach easily to low-pressure inflator hoses for quick deployment and feature a dump valve that allows air to escape back out at surface level.
Safety whistles are an indispensable item for every scuba diver to carry, as they’re easy to use, lightweight, and loud enough to draw attention of people on land and boat alike. Many divers attach one directly to their BCD inflator hose so it is always within easy reach and readily available; one standard whistle can be heard up to one mile away when blown at sea level – compact enough that when not needed can fit easily in their BCD pocket pocket.
Delayed Surface Marker Buoys
A delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) is a large, cylindrical-shaped device used to indicate where divers are diving from the surface of the water. Once inflated, these buoys can be released back onto the surface as an indicator for divers and serve various functions, including marking your position during dives and alerting boats about your presence. These colorful devices may also serve as markers on an underwater camera system to mark your position when taking photos of divers’ dives.
SMBs (sometimes referred to by their nickname of’safety sausage’) are an integral piece of dive equipment for many divers, serving both to notify people on the surface that you will soon be ascending and warning nearby boats that you intend on ascending soon. When deployed near the end of a dive, an SMB should be deployed so it alerts everyone of imminent ascent and alert any boats nearby of impending ascent.
There are various varieties of SMBs on the market, but most share similar features. They typically feature an opening at the bottom that can be filled with air from an alternate gas source and may feature a weighted flap-valve to keep air from escaping as they rise toward the surface. Some models even autoseal once they have reached their intended surface location and lay horizontally across it.
Holding onto at least one SMB in your BCD pocket is always recommended, but essential when planning to dive a drift dive with current. A DSMB can also help indicate your position while making decompression stops during technical dives.
Strobe lights use flashing LEDs to illuminate surfaces and objects, drawing attention and signaling danger. They come in various shapes, sizes and colors and can be found mounted on emergency vehicles to alert other road users of their presence in low light or poor weather conditions while improving visibility for other road users; or on structures and equipment as potential hazards warning workers and ensuring worker safety within construction zones.
When purchasing a strobe light, look for one with both a warranty and reliable customer support. A warranty protects against damages or defects while good customer support signals to clients that the company appreciates their patronage and is willing to go the extra mile to guarantee customer satisfaction.
Some strobe lights offer features to enable customization of their display, including adjustable flash duration and brightness levels, or synchronization capabilities for signaling purposes.
Strobe lighting offers another advantage over traditional studio lights by providing the possibility to create special effects in photography and art installations. A flashing strobe light set at an appropriate frequency, for instance, can make rotating machinery appear to stop moving temporarily – or even reverse its rotation! Strobe lights can also save photographers time by eliminating the need to setup and move traditional studio lights around.
Glow sticks make an ideal addition to an emergency survival kit, as these items are waterproof and emit a bright glow that can be seen from a distance. Plus, these non-flammable items don’t produce heat so are much safer to use during an emergency than other forms of lighting such as candles.
Before buying glow sticks, take into account their luminosity and how long they will last before burning out. In addition, ensure they contain safe chemicals; some may contain toxic compounds which could prove hazardous in emergency situations.
Chemiluminescence is what produces the light from glow sticks, with chemicals contained within a small glass ampoule that’s separate from its glow material inside a plastic tube. Bending or shaking will dislodge this ampoule and allow its contents to mix together to produce its luminescent effects – further increasing your glow stick’s luminescent effects!
One of the primary uses for glow sticks in wilderness settings is to mark locations. This could involve marking trails or providing visibility at night for aircraft or boats passing overhead; especially useful if fog persists. Another way of using glow sticks effectively in such locations would be attaching several feet of paracord to one and spinning it overhead in order to send signals directly to helicopters or airplanes.
Signal mirrors have long been considered essential parts of survival kits and have saved numerous lives over time. Lightweight, compact and surprisingly sturdy, signal mirrors have proven lifesaving when in distress on boats or airplanes. Some better quality mirrors float, making them particularly helpful to boaters or plane passengers in distress. Signal mirrors can be used to signal for help by periodically scanning the horizon or flashing three times (usually considered universal distress signal) at people, vehicles or planes (three being an universal distress signal).
Signal mirrors typically consist of a hole in the center with a retroreflective grid surrounding it that acts like a telescope to direct sunlight onto a target. Looking through its hole will reveal a bright spot of light indicating where your mirror is pointed toward either the sun, nearby objects, or something else entirely; you can then direct its path toward your intended target.
Signal mirrors can also be used in many other ways. If you can’t locate one, if possible try using shiny material from credit cards or aluminum foil pieces as signal mirrors.
Signal mirrors offer an alternative to flares if you need to make signals without electricity, making them the ideal option if no matches are available to light a fire – such as on boats or forests. You can even use them to reflect light upwards, helping you find your way in darkness.