Every year scuba divers across the globe get lost at sea and some end up dying or never found. The majority of these divers sign up for a diving trip on a tour boat and due to inexperience, lack of common sense, negligence and just plain bad luck are subjected to the worse experience in their lives.
Many of these divers are swept away by currents, get separated from the other divers or encounter adverse underwater conditions that affects their sense of direction and time. The problem is that in a third world country the tour boat operator may be less concerned with the divers safety than keeping on schedule. And if you have a problem there are no lawyers that will sue someone.
Basically you are on your own or if you are diving with someone then it is imperative that you look out for each other throughout the dive. I did a dive in the Bahamas a couple of years ago and while clearing my ears upon the decent the dive master and three divers disappeared by the time I got to the bottom. In fact I never saw the dive master again until he surfaced forty minutes later. Luckily I had my friend watching out for me and waiting for me until I descended!
If you Google lost scuba divers you will be amazed at the number of lost divers and some of the tragic stories that ended in death. So what is a diver supposed to do to prevent you or your dive buddy getting lost in the middle of the ocean?
Common sense is the first and foremost rule of thumb! Don’t wander off, be aware of where the dive master is at all times, keep an eye on your other fellow divers, be aware of the strong currents that can move you at over 5 miles an hour, when you surface deploy your BC and look for the dive boat and other divers, have a signaling light or safety light with you.
Obviously there will be situations where you will find yourself in trouble but the key point is not to panic! Especially if you get to the surface and you are unable to see the dive boat or other fellow divers. This can also happen if the swells and waves are over four feet high and since you are floating low in the water the boat actually might be a hundred yards away and not be able to see you.
If you panic you will not be able to think clearly and you will waste precious energy. Time is against you because if there are strong currents they will be moving you farther and farther away from your starting point and you will start losing heat despite wearing a wet suit. Another thing to consider is if you are floating in the ocean you will need drinking water long before you need food and the sun will burn you.
Some basic precautions may improve your chances for survival. They have an inflatable signal devise that might be helpful but where do you keep it is the question. Another solution which is more helpful at dusk and at night is a signal light that obviously needs to be waterproof and long lasting.
Presently there are some lights on the market that will provide some help based on the color of the light, duration of the light, flashing or solid color, depth ability of the light, size of the safety light and durability.
Based on basic physics the most visible light either underwater or on top is a white flashing led light. Many of the lights that are supposed to be visible are solid and in different colors. Not the best choice if you want to be seen.
My preference is a water activated light that is bright white and flashing. There is a new company called diver savers that sells two types of lights that can literally last more than a 150 hours of continuous usage. Better than most of the others that rely on alkaline batteries that at most will burn for only thirty hours which is just over a day and probably not long enough in most cases.
Some of the lights on the market are the Trident Led Light Stick, the Trident Mini Flashing Light, the waterproof Scuba Diving Strobe, the I Torch Firefly, the Princeton Tec Aqua Strobe, the Tek Tite Led Strobe, the Dive Buddy locator and the Diver Snorkel Beacon Light. These lights range from ten dollars up to sixty five dollars and some are plain junk and others are very well made.
The key points to look for is the construction, the size, the brightness, does it flash and how long does the battery last while in the ocean? Personally I prefer the water activated safety dive lights because they can last for over a hundred dives and not only make you visible on top of the water they will also make you visible to the dive master and fellow divers underwater.
Dive safely and enjoy the ocean!