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You are looking to end the dive, your buddy decides to deploy an SMB, suddenly you realize your buddy is gone, panic sets in; where has he gone? Ahhh… there he is dangling from 5 inches of string, just below the surface!

As a key piece of dive kit the SMB is an extremely useful tool when used effectively, however improper use can make it dangerous and cause rapid ascents. This month’s hints and tips look at simple things to help make your SMB deployments safer and more effective.

1. Take care of your equipment

When preparing your equipment be sure that your reel is spooled neatly, a tangled reel can cause snagging which could result in a reel jam.

2. Everything clear above you

When ready to deploy the reel ensure that you are not attached in any way to the reel or SMB. Also look above to make sure there are no boats overhead, you will not be popular with the skipper when his propeller is tangled in your line!

3. Watch out for your buoyancy

Make yourself either neutrally buoyant or slightly negative as you inflate the SMB, whilst adding air exhale simultaneously. This will make sure that the slight pull from the ascending buoy will not affect your buoyancy.

4. Don’t attach your self to the reel

Do not attach the reel to yourself for any reason, should a boat travel overhead and catch your line, you will find yourself dragged at speed behind the boat…fine when waterskiing but not when diving. At any time you should be able to release the reel and SMB to keep yourself safe.

5. Choose the right SMB

Bigger is not always better, a large SMB will be harder to fill and even with the air expansion on ascent you may find a large SMB insufficiently full on the surface making it floppy.

It is worth taking the time to practice in shallow water. Go in a local pool or dabble in the shallows off the beach until you feel confident. The PADI SMB Distinctive Specialty Course is becoming increasingly popular as you will have the time to practice and learn many more effective tips for safe SMB use.

For great deals on SMB’s and reels please visit www.simplyscuba.co.uk the online solution for all your scuba equipment needs.

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