The buddy check, BWRAF, is an important accident prevention procedure new divers learn during the PADI® Open Water Diver course. But how do you remember what BWRAF is? As divers gain more experience, the buddy check is often reduced to one diver asking the other, “you good?” A simple “you good” is not enough when it comes to adventure sports. It’s a sad fact that diver error is a leading cause of scuba diving accidents.
According to DAN, accidents are just as likely to happen to new divers compared to those certified for several years. Let’s build habits and remind each-other, it’s much easier to fix a small problem above water than to deal with a big problem underwater. Most new divers learn a mnemonic device such as “Begin with Review and Friend” to remember the steps in a buddy check (BWRAF). There are many other ways to remember the acronym, but we’ll get to those in a moment. First, here’s a quick review of how to do a buddy check.
B – BCD/Buoyancy-
W – Weight-
Ensure both divers have weights and that all weights are secure. Give a gentle tug on BC weight pouches to confirm they’re locked in and won’t fall out during entry. If applicable: check weight belts, rear BC weight pockets, and any other places where weights may need adjustments.
R – Releases-
A – Air-
The purpose of the air step is sometimes disregarded. Taking a quick breath or two off the regulator isn’t enough. A proper air check means verifying the cylinder valve is completely open. Then taking many breaths while looking at an SPG or air-integrated computer. This ensure’s the tank valve is open, the air is available for the dive, your monitoring gauge is working, and the air tastes okay. Also, check your alternate air source and make sure your buddy knows where to locate it in an emergency.
F – Final Check-
As part of the final check, gather your gear (mask, snorkel, fins, dive light, camera, audible and visual signaling device, etc). Be sure to secure loose hoses and other objects that may dangle and damage the reef. Lastly, Do a head-to-toe check to ensure both divers are ready to go.
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.
More Ways To Remember 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
Value Of BWRAF
As divers our priority is always safety. Safety of ourselves first, then other divers, and even safety of the marine life. We all make mistakes, because we’re all human. By implementing this acronym in your scuba diving life, you will be doing preventative maintenance which will be checking for human and mechanical error. If you look at DAN, they openly discuss 10 Ways To Prevent Scuba Diving Accidents, and 5/10 have to do with equipment check or equipment. Pre-checking your equipment is the most important step so don’t forget to perform it!
How To Become Aware And Prepared
PADI offers 2 courses in particular that make a diver more prepared for any situation they face. The PADI Rescue Diver, and the EFR course. Rescue Diver prepares you for most situations that can occur on the surface and underwater. When completing this course you’ll be able to conduct medical assistance during an emergency until help arrives. EFR course is required for the Rescue Diver, but also is extremely useful by its self. You’ll be certified in CPR & AED, and first and secondary care upon completion of this course.
Final Check (After Thoughts)
When you think about it, BWRAF, it is something you do everyday. Think about the checklist you go through before leaving your home – filling up your water bottle, taking a jacket, grabbing your phone, wallet, keys, etc. You’ve developed this leaving home procedure to ensure you’re prepared to deal with whatever situation may arise while you’re away. Whether you’re leaving home for the day, or leaving the air-breathing world for the underwater one, it’s important to be prepared. Doing a buddy check can help make sure your dive is about having fun rather than dealing with problems.