According to the Diving Fatality statistics from Diving Medicine for Scuba Divers (Wikipedia) published in 2015, 86% of diver fatalities occurred when they were diving solo or separated from their dive buddy.
There are reasons why dive institutes teach the buddy system. In this post, I’ll give you 10 great reasons why it’s important to scuba dive with a buddy along with my story!
I also have an interesting video that shows why the buddy system really works.
Purpose of having a dive buddy
As early as our Open Water Dive Certification Course (entry-level), we’re taught to use our buddy system. From the time of entrance into the water, during the descent, during the dive, the ascent, surface swim to shore or back on the dive boat, we remain together.
Comprised of usually 2 divers for recreational diving, this system helps to avoid incidents from happening as best as possible and to assist the buddy that needs assistance or in an emergency situation.
Having 3 buddies can be done but it is more difficult in that you need to be on the lookout for 2 instead of one. It’s also very possible that one of the divers will lose the attention of the other 2.
A Close Call
Back in 1985, I had just completed my PADI Open Water Dive Certification Course and was doing a dive with my buddy who happened to be my husband (experienced diver) out in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I figured we were halfway into our dive.
My instructor and the graduated group of students were swimming just ahead of us when we encountered strong current. My husband swam through the current but I was struggling. I swam as hard as I could doing my flutter kick but I wasn’t getting any propulsion and so he had to reach out and grab my hand and pulled me thru it.
The rest of the dive was going smoothly. I had just spotted some cool creatures at the bottom, close to a tall sloped rocky protuberance. I swam down touching the bottom close to 60’ to do some investigating when I suddenly realized I was ascending very quickly.
I could see my weight belt had fallen off. I had already dumped the air from my BCD just to get to the bottom and now it felt like there was nothing I could do other than make some fast muffling sound thru my mouthpiece… which I did.
Looking down, I could see that my husband had heard me and I watched him do a 360 and then look up and around. When he saw me he quickly reached up and grabbed one of my fins. He released the air from his BCD but still couldn’t slow my ascent enough and with me hanging onto him, he made a grab for the rocky slope and hung on to whatever he could to allow us to do a slow ascent to the surface. From there, we did a surface swim back to the dive boat.
I often wonder how I would have fared had I been diving alone… I was the last one to swim thru the current and I don’t think anyone would have seen me struggling. The Pacific Ocean seemed dark and full of plankton so visibility was not great especially on a cloudy rainy day. Would I have drifted away somewhere?
And then there was my quick ascent… I used up some good air pretty fast trying to get thru the current so that already made my tank lighter and of course no weights. Would I have ended up with decompression sickness or air embolism??
This is one of the reasons you need to have a dive buddy. Being there for each other, means you have a much better chance of being safe. I know I was fortunate and blessed to have my awesome husband as my buddy!
10 Valid Reasons Why You Never Want To Dive Alone!
No matter how experienced a diver you are, there are many valid reasons for you to want to dive with a buddy and stay close to each other.
1) First of all, 2 heads are better than one!! If you end up in a situation where you need to make a decision, will you panic or utilize your resources?
2) You can give assistance to each other when required.
3) Perhaps you or your buddy has run out of air. If someone is trying to communicate whether it’s by tapping on the tank or yelling (muffled sound) through a mouthpiece you should be able to hear the sound if you remain close.
5) A diver who doesn’t have a knife and becomes entangled and entrapped will need the assistance of his buddy. Perhaps your foot is caught in a crevice…
6) Dive equipment failure such as a stuck auto-inflator valve can cause a sudden ascent to the surface. If you’re a new diver, a novice diver, or even if you’re an experienced diver, it’s easy to forget about disconnecting your low-pressure hose from the inflator on your BCD.
7) Ever get foot cramps underwater? Sometimes, it’s not easy to get that cramp removed by yourself underwater and it can become dangerous if the pain is all you’re focused on which can quickly get you disoriented. Your buddy can give you a quick leg massage.
8) Shark(s)! This can be nerve-wracking and may cause you or your buddy to panic. The resource you have is your buddy… like I say 2 heads are better than one. Work together, calm each other down and observe.
Just knowing you are not the only human in the water is helpful! If you read my post on How To Prevent Shark Attacks, you will also see the desire to have a buddy with you at all times!
9) Get some pictures taken of you. I’m sure your buddy will be more than happy to take great shots of you and you can return the same!
10) It’s more fun to share the experience with another diver.
Now you know why it’s important to dive with a buddy! Why risk diving alone? If you travel alone, I’m sure you will meet other divers much like you… just stop at the dive shop and ask around.
I travel a lot to dive places on my own and if you’re looking for a dive buddy drop me a line. If you have any great dive buddy stories or have any questions please put them in the comment box below.
Click here if you would like to know how to do a buddy check!
Click PADI Travel here if you and your dive buddy are looking to experience some exotic diving from a liveaboard?
Thanks for reading and I hope this post was helpful!