There are many important skills you learn during your Open Water Course. One of them is how to inflate a safety sausage (otherwise known as a delayed surface marker buoy, dSMB, or SMB for short). Normally, you learn how to do this at the surface, but the best use of this skill is by deploying it from underwater.
Why sending up a safety sausage makes your diving safer
The safety sausage warns boats that you, the diver, are about to come up to the surface. It is also the perfect tool for signaling to the boat for pick up after a dive. If you do any diving in strong currents or wavy conditions, it is best that you invest in a large SMB. A longer safety sausage means that it will stick out further above the surface of the water.
If it’s really big, you can even use it as extra flotation!
How to Inflate a Safety Sausage from Underwater
At first, inflating a safety sausage during a dive is a tricky skill, but practicing it just a few times will improve your level very quickly! As with any new skill, it is best that you start by practicing with a buddy who knows how to do it.
Tip 1: Have a reel with at least 15m line on it and attach it to your SMB
Most reels come with a lot of line. If yours comes with 30+ meters, cut about 5 meters off so that you have more space to be able to store easily and put your clip on it.
Tip 2: Make sure to adjust your buoyancy before inflating your safety sausage
Since you are going to be adding air to something you are holding while underwater (even if it’s only for a few seconds), it is smart to deflate your BCD beforehand. This way, if your SMB takes you up a little bit, you won’t have a difficult time controlling your position after you let it go.
Tip 3: Safely store clips during deployment
This is important because you don’t want to have your reel get stuck on a clip, not deploy the line and shoot up out of our hands. Worse yet, you want to completely avoid having the reel get caught on your BCD and, in turn, take you to the surface along with the safety sausage.
Avoid this just by taking time to organize your hands and equipment before deploying the SMB. Watch the end of our YouTube video to see proper organization of clips, equipment, and body position.
Tip 4: Remember that air expands!
If you inflate your safety sausage at 10 meters, that means you only have to inflate the safety sausage half way. This is because, with the pressure change from 10 meters to the surface, the air will expand to fill the entire SMB. Science!
Tip 5: After deployment, lock the depth with your clip and pull the reel down so that the SMB stands straight up
This will make you and your other diver friends the most visible during your safety stop. It will also help the boat to see you from further away or in wavy conditions.
Safety tip: LOOK UP FIRST.
Don’t be that diver that sends up their SMB directly under another diver. That’s just rude 👌🏻
Other than that, just keep practicing!
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