SNUBA® Safety Briefing

SNUBA GUIDE - Dominican Republic

Keep it simple! Be energetic, fun and make it sound like common sense. Use humorous examples whenever possible. Start with the most important things to remember and re-cap them again with a pop quiz at the end of your briefing.

SUMMARY: Tell your group the briefing will take about 10-12 minutes and you will be sharing a lot of information during that time. It’s likely that they won’t remember EVERYTHING you are about to convey but if they can just remember these few important points they’ll make it back alive… 😉 (Be sure to smile—this is a joke!)

The 7 Rules of SNUBA:

  • Relax and go slowly!
  • Breathe normally
  • Never hold your breath
  • Never take the regulator mouthpiece out of your mouth
  • Use the hose line to slowly ascend and descend, hand over hand
  • Stay with your guide and the rest of your group
  • Don’t touch anything, unless advised, etc.

Use the head-to-toe method to present the proper use of the equipment…

MASK: Purpose: To SEE down there! And keeps water out of the nose. Proper fit is all-important. When fitting a mask keep in mind: right size for face, strap on crown of head not over ears, snug, comfortable. No mask fits anyone perfectly and a little water will always creep in one way or another. Water is very easy to remove. If you are close to the surface just come up and pull the mask away from your face and spill it out. If you are deeper you simply look up toward the surface, reach up and seal off the upper edge of the mask along your forehead with your hand and then exhale through your nose. All the water will be forced out of the bottom of the mask. (Demonstrate making sure everyone can see the seal break between your upper lip and the mask as you blow out).

The mask also helps equalize pressure in sinus passages—primarily the ears. A simple explanation such as this is perfect: “When you descend, remember to always go slowly. You may feel pressure on the ears. This is normal! Here’s how you get rid of it: It’s called the “pinch and blow” method. You simply use the mask to seal your nose by pinching here (in the finger wells of the mask around the nose) and then blow out gently through the nose while keeping it blocked. You must also keep your mouth sealed at this time. Since you will have the regulator mouthpiece in your mouth for breathing this may seem confusing but it isn’t if you swallow at the same time you pinch and blow. Try it.” This will be a natural reaction for you, you’ll see. It will work!

Mask Squeeze: Sometimes when you are under water you may feel your mask sucking to your face like a vacuum cleaner. To relieve this feeling, exhale gently through your nose into the mask. This action will momentarily break the seal of your mask and relieve the pressure.

HARNESS & REGULATOR / MOUTHPIECE: While wearing the harness, identify the main components and explain their use. The harness holds the regulator and hose line to your body; while you are swimming you can effortlessly and comfortably pull the raft along the surface behind you. The regulator regulates the amount of air you breathe by how deeply you inhale. Always remember to breathe normally. Explain the exhaust ports on the regulator and how air is exhaled as bubbles near the cheeks. Show how to bite down on the bite-tabs of the mouthpiece and how to roll your lips over the edges of the mouthpiece to make a perfect seal. Water will not enter your mouth if the regulator is kept in place. Remind everyone that if for some reason the regulator should come out it will tend to naturally fall to the right side. Show divers how to properly recover the regulator with a counter-clockwise, arm sweep. When a regulator is removed from the mouth, divers must learn how to clear the water and resume normal breathing. Demonstrate both methods of clearing the regulator: forcefully blowing air through regulator to expel water or pressing your tongue against the air opening in the regulator and pressing the purge button, then resuming normal breathing.

HOSE LINE: The hose line is the most important component in the system and one you cannot overemphasize. It is the NEXUS! Why? It not only provides air to the divers, but it also acts like a leash—connecting the diver to the SNUBA raft. If the functions of the hose line are properly explained and demonstrated, the diver can: regulate the speed of descent and ascent (avoiding ear problems/air embolism/lung squeeze/over-expansion, etc), maintain a comfortable diving depth, and provide guidance back to the raft at the surface. Important: divers must be reminded to use the hose line. Many divers will surface freely, without the assistance of the hose, and arrive at the surface nowhere near the raft—resulting in panic, struggle, confusion and regulator removal. Safely surfacing near the raft with the assistance of the hose line will help divers avoid these issues. Be sure to explain to participants this possible scenario and the steps that should be taken to correct it—tug the hose line to bring the raft closer, place the regulator in your mouth and clear, and stay calm. As the guide, you must always be prepared and ready to help guests in any situation.

WEIGHT BELT: All SNUBA locations operate in saltwater. Saltwater makes individuals more buoyant. In order to achieve neutral buoyancy—stay at a level below the surface without floating up or sinking down—divers must wear a weight belt. SNUBA weight belts use soft weights, and are comfortable and environmentally safe. We do our best to weight our guests accurately so it is easier for them to enjoy the experience and not struggle to stay down or up off the bottom. Precision weighting is an art and is only achieved with practice and experience in gauging your guests weight and body fat. Although SNUBA guides cannot control how guests breathe underwater, it is generally observed that participants tend to hold residual air in the lungs (due to anxiety and/or excitement) and therefore swim with more positive buoyancy. This is why it is important to give a great safety briefing, leaving participants feeling relaxed and confident about their impending adventure. Ultimately, it is important to make guests understand that even though the weight belt may seem heavy above water, once fully immersed they will hardly feel the weight! And should the belt be a source of too much stress, it can be instantly removed. Remember, guests always have the option to remain comfortably at the surface and power snorkel—even using the raft for further assistance and flotation!

FINS: Many guests will have little or no experience in the use of swim fins. It is important to demonstrate how to properly flutter kick from the hip, without bending the knees. A bicycling or frog kick will not work with swim fins. Fins should be properly fitted; foot cramps lead to stress, which equals no fun.

BODY ATTITUDE: As previously stated we want to encourage the use of the hose line for descending and ascending, but what happens when a diver arrives at a comfortable depth? Participants should use the kicking technique above (flutter kick) to place themselves into the Superman or SNUBAMAN position—horizontal to the ocean bottom so as to avoid accidentally kicking or damaging the fragile coral reef. If necessary, divers can hold onto the hose line with one hand to maintain a comfortable depth while extending the other hand out, continuing with the flutter kick, as though the diver were flying through the water.

REEF ALLIANCE: SNUBA divers should be strictly advised to avoid touching or removing ocean life (including: corals, shells, fish, crabs, etc). The ocean site should be left as beautiful as first discovered. We are guests in this environment and all participants should enjoy and observe ocean life, while maintaining a safe and respectful distance. Guests should not touch anything, unless you, as the SNUBA guide advise or hand something to them to touch. SNUBA operators are members of Reef Alliance and therefore adhere to strict coral reef conservation and eco-friendly business standards. SNUBA guides should encourage guests to take only pictures and leave only bubbles.

HAND SIGNALS: While underwater, Snuba guides are required to communicate with guests via hand signals. It is imperative that these signals are explained, demonstrated and practiced with participants during the briefing. The basic hand signals are as follows:

The standard “OK” signal: given as a question “are you OK?” hand signal to the guest, and answered with a “yes I’m fine” OK hand signal or a “no, something’s not right” hand signal

The something’s not right signal: demonstrate the something’s not right signal and then point to the problem area. For example, if there is a problem with your mask, give the not right signal to the guide and then point to your mask. Similarly, if there is a problem with the weight belt, give the signal and point to the weight belt.

Other important hand signals include: go up, go down, left, right, stop, caution, look at this, a small amount, grab onto the raft, let go of the raft, tour is over, time to go up etc. For fun and educational benefit, demonstrate hand signals for the various marine-life likely to be seen on the tour: shark, turtle, octopus, eel, etc.

SUMMARY & POP QUIZ: Recap the most important points of the safety briefing through a group-participation, pop quiz. Some key points to remember:

The 7 Rules of SNUBA:

    • Relax and go slowly!
    • Breathe normally
    • Never hold your breath
    • Never take the regulator mouthpiece out of your mouth
    • Use the hose line to slowly ascend and descend, hand over hand
    • Stay with your guide and the rest of your group
    • Don’t touch anything, unless advised, etc.

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