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Buddy Check: How to Do a Proper Scuba BWRAF?

buddy check - CPTAO

The best rescues are those which do not need to be done. For this reason, diving checks or buddy checks such as the scuba BWRAF are vital.

No, when we talk about buddy checks, we don’t mean asking your buddy if they’re okay. We are talking about the PADI Dive check, maybe one of the most famous diving checks, the ABCD of the SDI pre-dive checklist, or the equivalent acronym to BWRAF used by your certifying agency.

Yes. Do you remember? A diving check is a technique we were all taught in the Open Water Diver Course, and we all forgot the first. That task, you have to do with your partner in crime, that’s where the name “buddy check” comes from.

In this article, we review all the concepts regarding dive buddy checks so that you will never forget them again.

This article aims to highlight the significance of buddy checks in scuba diving and emphasize their role in ensuring dive safety. It will discuss the concept of buddy checks, their purpose, and how they contribute to a successful and secure diving experience. Additionally, the article will explore the different types of diving checks, particularly focusing on PADI dive checks, and other agencies and their importance in preventing accidents and promoting effective communication among diving buddies.

Take a look at the table of contents.

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1. The Importance of Dive Buddy Checks

Imagine this scenario: You’re all geared up and ready to dive into the mesmerizing underwater world. But wait, have you performed a dive buddy check yet?

Oh no! It’s too late, when you’re in the water, you realize you’re not wearing fins on your feet. And it could have been worse, knowing you, you might even forget to open the tank, couldn’t you?

But why does this happen to us?

Have you ever written a text and, when you read it, the typos have gone unnoticed?

The same thing happens in diving. This is because the brain does not analyze but instead mixes images with expectations. This example explains very well why we need diving checks.

According to some research, a buddy checker discovers mistakes you could not see.

This is because the buddy check partner is looking for faults. In other words, your buddy checker assumes that there is an unidentified problem, and his mission is to find it. On the contrary, when you check your own gear, you do it to prove you have done it properly.

When it comes to diving, even the tiniest mistake can be bigger than you think. That’s why we need a trusty companion, a dive buddy, to ensure our safety underwater. And the dive buddy check is the ultimate way to guarantee that everything is shipshape before we take the plunge.

Definitely, it’s time to dive into the importance of this crucial procedure.


2. What Is a Dive Buddy Check?

So, what exactly is a dive buddy check? It’s a pre-dive ritual where you and your dive buddy inspect each other’s scuba gear to make sure it’s set up flawlessly. It’s like having a second set of eyes to catch any potential blunders that might have slipped past your own scrutiny.

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3. Pre-Dive Checklist: Goal and Effectiveness

Most of the SCUBA problems during a dive already existed on the surface, but we did not discover them in time, and we took them to the water. When the failure shows its face, we act as if it were an unpredictable emergency, but the truth is that we could have avoided it just by following the pre-dive checklist.

Therefore, the main objective of the scuba buddy check is to reduce the risk to divers. Following a pre-dive checklist is effective because it doesn’t allow us to skip a single procedural step.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Buddy checks foster effective communication and teamwork between you and your dive buddy. It’s a moment to establish trust, synchronize your dive plans, and ensure you’re on the same page throughout the underwater adventure.

Prepared for the Unexpected: Dive buddy checks also include reviewing emergency procedures. This prepares both you and your buddy to handle any unforeseen challenges that may arise during the dive. Being well-prepared increases your confidence and ability to handle potential emergencies swiftly and effectively.


4. How Do I Do a Safety Buddy Check?

The most well-known pre-dive checklist is the PADI dive check which is summed up in the diving acronym BWRAF. Although there are many others, they all focus on covering 4 key points.

  1. Check that the gas supply is correct and the breathing apparatus works well.
  2. Check the condition of the buoyancy device and ballast.
  3. Safety of harnesses and buckles and checking that everything is connected.
  4. A final check, covering all equipment including mask, dive computer, knife, etc.
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5. How to Nail Your Dive Buddy Checks: Scuba BWRAF

Well, before you take the plunge, it’s essential to perform the famous BWRAF buddy check. But hey, let’s make it more memorable by transforming it into “Breathing Water Really Ain’t Fun!” Trust me, this catchy phrase will stick in your mind like an underwater creature to a coral reef.

Now, let’s break down the BWRAF rule, which covers all the vital equipment your dive buddy should inspect. Don’t worry; it’s easier than it sounds!

B – BCD/Buoyancy: 

The BCD check involves checking that it inflates and deflates optimally. Verify the integrity and functionality of all connections. Test the inflator button and deflate valves to ensure they are operational. In addition, your buddy checks there are no leaks in the BCD, the oral inflation hose, or the one connected to the cylinder.

Dry suit divers must confirm the functionality of their inflator valve and deflator valves.

It is vital to acquaint yourself with your buddy’s gear. If you are unfamiliar with their equipment, don’t hesitate to ask questions. In case of an emergency, your preparedness will be greatly appreciated.

W – Weight: 

It’s time to check your weight belts or weight pockets, and that all weights are secure. Your buddy checker will verify that they are in place and are sufficient to counteract the positive buoyancy of the wetsuit and other equipment. In your diving check give a gentle tug on BCD weight pouches to confirm they’re locked in and won’t fall out during entry.

R – Releases: 

This point checks that all dive gear parts are correctly connected, secured, accessible, and can be removed if necessary: from the weight belt to the air tank including the BCD shoulder and chest straps and belly straps.

Your buddy’s check will also verify that no crushed or loose hose cannot perform its function or damage the environment during the dive. This diving check should verify there is nothing positioned in a way that might prevent a diver from getting out of their equipment in an emergency.

A – Air: 

Among other things, your partner will check if your cylinder has air and then if you can breathe. Taking a quick breath or two off the regulator isn’t enough. A proper air buddy check means verifying the cylinder valve is completely open. Your buddy will check the cylinder pressure controls are working and are accessible while you take many breaths. So, you will know the air is available for the dive, your monitoring gauge is working, and the air tastes okay.

Your dive buddy will also check that the emergency regulator is secured and you know where is it located in an emergency.

F – Final Check:

Zips closed, sleeve and neck seal fastened, mask, snorkel, fins, dive light, camera, audible and visual signaling device, and of course, the dive computer verifications. Your buddy checker should verify that the dive computer is turned on and working in dive mode. Lastly, Do a head-to-toe diving check to ensure both buddies are ready to go.

BWRAF buddy check

The steps described above are a generic, quick review for divers using an open circuit system. If you’re diving technical or rebreather, you should conduct safety checks appropriate to the diving procedure.

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6. More Ways to Remember the Scuba BWRAF

Babies With Rashes Are Fussy

Barf Will Really Attract Fish

Barry White Records Are Funky

Beans With Rice and Fish

Breathing Water Really Ain’t Fun

Bruce Willis Ruins/Rules All Films


7. Other Scuba Acronyms to Remember the Scuba Buddy Check Steps

There are other diving acronyms. The one for SDI is ABCDE. Impossible to forget for English speakers.

Air/ Buoyancy control device/ Computer/ Dive gear/ Enter to the water

British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) uses the acronym BAR

Buoyancy/ Air/ Releases

SEABAG is the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) acronym

S – Site: If the chosen site is acceptable for diving

E – Emergencies. Checking emergency procedures

A – Activities: any special risks or concerns

B – Buoyancy: buddy checks buoyancy control devices

A – Air: air aspects checking

G – Gear: other gear is checked.


8. Additional Tips for Diving Buddy Checks

  • Communicate clearly and effectively with your buddy throughout the check.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you’re unsure about something.
  • If you notice any issues during the check, address them immediately.
  • Make scuba buddy checks a regular habit before every dive.

You already have all the information about the importance of scuba diving buddy check, and how to perform them correctly using the scuba BWRAF acronym and other acronyms used by different certification agencies.