Scuba diving is full of opportunities and experiences but being embarrassed is not one of those areas you want to find yourself in.  Have you ever stepped off the boat without weights, or realized you BC wasn't buckled?  Woe!  That's why you need to run down your checklist with you dive buddy to be sure all of your gear is in order prior to taking that giant stride off the side of the boat.  A good practice is to work from your head to your toes and from your front to your back.  By doing so you will not miss anything that maybe out of place.

Before we review our pre-dive checklist we need to first look at a list of items you will want to bring on a typical dive.
  • You have your scuba certification card ("C-card") with you to show when you check in on the boat or need to get tanks filled.
  • A "save-a dive" kit, including seasickness medication, if needed when you are going on a boat dive, extra "O" rings, a snorkel strap, sun screen and any items you feel you may need to be able to due minor repairs.
  • Your  scuba gear, packed in a gear bag, including: 
Mask
Snorkel
Fins and booties
Weights and weight belt
Your "C-card"
  • In a sealed, water tight bag:
Towel and warm, dry clothes
Windbreaker or parka
Bottled water
Your dive log
Pen (for writing in your log)
Printed and laminated dive tables, even if you have a dive computer your dive buddy may have forgotten theirs.
For all day trips bring some food.  Avoid salty snacks, chocolate and caffeinated beverages since these can all promote dehydration.  Instead, choose fresh cut vegetables and fruits.
  • Conduct your pre-dive briefing with your dive buddy.
Discuss your dive mission, objectives and goals.  What is the purpose of your dive and what will you do if you're separated from your dive buddy or have trouble?

Identify your dive, site entry procedures and exit access point(s).

Define depth, bottom time and limits for your planned dive.

Define the next deeper depth and next longer bottom time limits in case planned limits are exceeded accidentally.


Evaluate and discuss potential for encountering dangerous marine life.

Evaluate and discuss surface and underwater conditions including strong current, low visibility, cold water, thermo cline's, surge swell, or fog.

Verify that your dive buddy is physically and mentally fit to conduct the dive.  They didn't get sick on the way out or have severe cold conditions.

Be sure that you and your dive buddy are properly hydrated and rested before your dive.

Evaluate repetitive dive designations if a previous dive was made within 12 hours.
  • Conduct your pre-dive check.
BC:  Check adjustment, operation, low pressure inflater connection and ensure that the tank is properly adjusted. Depending on your entry technique you may need to have your BC partially inflated.

Weights:  Your weight belt should be set-up with a right hand release.  You should be properly weighted - not over weighted.  Your quick release must be clear for a quick ditching of your weights if required.

Releases:  Make sure your buddy's releases work and you are familiar with their locations and operations.

Air:  You should always start off your dive with a full tank of air.  Confirm that you both have ample air for the dive, and that your valves are open, that your regulators including your octopus work.  Know where to find and how to use your dive buddies octopus.

Final OK:  Give each other a final inspection from head to toe and front to back.  Check for dangling gauges, missing gear, torn straps or leaking hoses.

If you are diving from shore or on a private boat be sure you have appropriate dive flags that are prominently displayed during your dive.

Always be sure that all of your dives are planned, started and finished with your buddy.  Don't forget if you are renting your gear from a dive shop, check your scuba tanks, BC and regulator before leaving the shop to be sure you have a full tank and everything is in working order.  You don't want to be doing your pre-dive checklist and find a problem.