Buddy Breathing

Buddy Breathing

Always scuba dive with a partner so that you have an emergency breathing plan if you run out of air. Before you dive make sure to set a schedule for the dive, and make sure that you and your buddy both understand it, and agree on hand signals to indicate low air, out of air and requests to buddy breathe.

Scuba diving is an inherently dangerous activity that can result in serious injury or death. We recommend that you seek proper training and equipment before attempting this activity. The basic procedure with buddy breathing is for each diver to take two breaths, then pass the regulator to the other diver. The second diver then takes two breaths and passes the regulator back to the other diver. This procedure continues until both divers have their own secure source of air. This may be when they have both reached the surface, or maybe when they have ascended to a decompression stop where there is a spare tank waiting.

Buddy Breathing With an Octopus Rig:

  • Signal to your buddy that you're out of air and want to buddy breathe.
  • Stay calm and allow your buddy to hand you her octopus regulator.
  • Remember to exhale or press the purge button on the regulator to clear it before inhaling.
  • When you're ready, calm and breathing normally, signal that you're ready to ascend to the surface.
  • Face each other and hold on to each other's equipment straps to stay together.
  • Ascend normally.

Buddy Breathing Without an Octopus Rig

  • Signal to your buddy that you're out of air and want to buddy breathe.
  • Allow your buddy to hand you the regulator when she's ready. Make sure your buddy keeps her hand on the regulator at all times.
  • Exhale first to clear the regulator. Use the purge button if necessary. Repeat this with every exchange.
  • Take two to three normal breaths, then push the regulator out of your mouth and let your buddy take it away and breathe for a few breaths.
  • Establish a rhythm, and let the air donor maintain control at all times.
  • When you and the donor are calm and ready, signal to each other that you're ready to ascend.
  • Face each other, and hold on to each other's equipment straps with one hand while passing the regulator back and forth with the other.
  • Establish a slightly positive buoyancy, and start kicking toward the surface. Let the donor control the rate of ascent.
  • Be ready to switch to an emergency ascent if necessary.

Buddy Breathing - an emergency breathing plan
Why buddy breathing?
When out of air, there are normally better, safer and easier solutions to choose before performing a buddy breathing ascent. However, if you’re out of air and your buddy’s alternate air source malfunctions or missing, you should know you can still slowly and safely ascend using one air source. Mind you, this should never happen as all divers should always dive with an alternate air source, and should check it works fine during a pre-dive safety check/buddy check.

Top dive shops provide free air and other great benefits to certified Reef Check divers as part of the Reef Check “Buddy Breathing” program.:

  • If your tank has a reserve, you may be able to toggle it on and switch back to independent breathing before you ascend.
  • Use of Buddy’s alternate air source. Role play scenarios of being out of air, signaling to your buddy, securing their alternate air source and ascending safely with them.
  • Buddy breathing. Sharing one air source between buddies to simulate an emergency situation and learning to ascend safely while buddy breathing.
  • Prepare and with a buddy don and adjust scuba equipment with minimal instructor/staff assistance.
  • With a buddy perform the predive safety check.
  • Buddy breathe in a stationary position (optional).
  • Perform a buddy-breathing ascent from a depth of 6-9metres/20-30 feet (optional).

If properly trained on buddy breathing, it is a very effective tool. The octopus or any alternate air source does add convenience and it increases a safety factor, but we used to dive without them for years without any issues. Buddy breathing is discouraged by many training agencies because other more reliable techniques and equipment exist. The technique needs training and regular practice by both divers if it is to be used successfully in a crisis; panic and task loading being the main reasons for it failing. Especially in situations in which one or both of the participants are not well-trained in the technique, the technique has been criticized for endangering two people instead of one.

Many divers fit a second demand valve, often called an "octopus", to their diving regulators, which is for emergency use by another diver. Divers doing deep diving or decompression stops routinely carry a complete, independent backup scuba set for their own or their buddy's emergency use. See diving cylinder for more details of breathing equipment configurations.

Last Updated on Friday 17th December 2010