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How to Communicate Underwater Using Scuba Diving Hand Signals

Submitted by admin on 2010-02-08 | Last Modified on 2010-02-12

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While you are bound to learn these signals when you begin scuba training it is often useful for beginners to make sure they remember what they are being taught, listed below is a list of hand signals commonly used underwater, in hopes that this will help some of the beginner scuba divers

There are many ways that you can communicate underwater when diving, but most of them have to do with Scuba diving hand signals. When you are underwater it is crucial that you are able to get in touch with your fellow divers to alert them of your situation. This is important not only to your own safety but to the safety of others as well. A few of the more common methods of underwater communication consist of: sign language, alphabet signals, diver signals, special signals for night diving, and even electronic communications devices can be used.

This article will introduce you to a few of the more common Scuba diving hand signals. It is not uncommon for Scuba diving hand signals, including sign language, to be taught even in dive school as this is the primary method that you will be using to communicate while underwater. Knowing at least the most basic Scuba diving hand signals is of utmost importance as you will need to know how to perform them in cases of emergency and even more importantly, in order to prevent the emergency from occurring in the first place.

Probably the most basic of the Scuba diving hand signals is the OK sign, which you probably know how to do already by simply placing the tips of your thumb and forefinger together.

To show that it is OK on the surface, you place the tips of all your fingers on the top of your head.

Next, there is the sign for ‘stop’ which is also common, you simply hold out your hand so that your palm is flat towards the person you are signaling.

In order to tell your diving partner to slow down, you signal to them by holding your hand out flat and moving it up and down slowly a few times.

Another important set of Scuba diving hand signals are those that deal with changing your depth. First of all, there is the signal for staying at the same depth which is achieved by holding out your hand flat and moving it left and right.

In order to signal to go up you simply hold out your fist and put your thumb up. To signal them to go down you do the opposite and put your thumb down.

There is the signal for ‘stay together’ which you perform by holding your two hands together with both index fingers out.

The most important signals to know are probably the distress signals, as explaining a problem underwater without voice communication can be very difficult and dangerous.

When experiencing a problem with your gear you can place your hand out palm flat, rotate the hand a bit and then point to the area of the problem.

There are 2 different signals for ‘out of air’ depending on whether it’s the BSAC or the PADI signal.

PADI’s signal is to place your hand flat, palm down across your neck and move it from left to right.

The BSAC’s signal is really quite similar to the above, except this time moving your hand up and down at your neck and not left to right.


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