If you are someone that is utterly terrified of scuba diving, it is likely that you have this fear due to a number of reasons. Obviously, one of the main reasons that people are scared of diving is because of Hollywood’s unrealistic portrayal of how prominent sharks will be in your scuba experience. However, aside from sharks, another reason that people are so afraid to take the plunge into the depths of the water is out of fear of being lost.
This is a fair fear to have, due to all of the documented cases of people going missing when on a scuba trip and the long list of those who entered the water and never came back. For as long as there have been scuba diving, there has always been the risk of this happening. However, over the last few decades, scuba divers have been taking special steps to avoid this. Diver down flags are one way scuba divers are preventing loss at sea or injury in the water.
What is a Diver Down Flag?
A diver down flag is a flag that can be attached to a vessel or floating device and indicates that there is someone under the water diving. It is usually used to deal with water traffic, as when a diver ascends or descends, they are sometimes at risk of being harmed by an unsuspecting boat or jet ski. They are at least 12inches by 12inches in diameter, which means boats and other aquatic vehicles can see them in the water and know to avoid that particular area. When you look up any refresher tips for scuba diving, diver down flags is one of the main bits of kit that they recommend you taking with you on any diving excursions. Because scuba diving is dangerous, it’s smart to take every precaution.
Two types of Diver Down Flag
Though you may think that there is just one universal diver down the flag that indicates a divers location, this is not the case. In fact, there are two types of diver down flag, each with its own meaning. But what are the two flags, what do they look like and what do they mean?
The Red and White flag
The red and white flag has long been the most visible and utilized worldwide. This flag is one of the most common indicators of life under water. Due to dive supply and retail shops flying the flag to promote diving equipment, it has lost popularity.
The Alpha Flag
This blue and white flag is the second most recognized diver down flag, in fact, it has risen in popularity and can usually be seen more often than the red and white flag. This flag is usually used on vessels and has a very clear message. This is that there is someone diving in the water and that you should slow down your vehicle or avoid the area completely.
Why these flags are so widely recognized
There is a code of conduct and critical knowledge for seafarers. As previously stated, the sea can be a dangerous place so it is important to keep everyone safe. This has especially become the case in the last few years as freediving has grown in popularity Diver down flags are extremely important due to how free divers hold their breath on their own, meaning they will ascend back to the surface of the water randomly and won’t have time to wait for a boat to pass above them quickly.
Snorkeling and diver down flags
A very common misconception that is found when it comes to aquatic activities is that you don’t even need to diver down flags if you are doing an activity like snorkeling. Even if you’re just surface snorkeling, boats and jet skis may miss you. This is because when people are doing other water sports, they are usually done at a high speed which means that they won’t really have time to watch out for a floating body in the water. Usually, if you are doing scuba diving or snorkeling then you are usually wearing muted colors in order to not bring attention to yourself from sea predators. Though this protects you, it also makes you unnoticeable in the water. This is where the flags come in and make people aware of your presence in the water.
Toeing the line
Diving has made the simple mistake of towing flags wrongly. Using a flag on a buoy or vessel and staying within 50m is proper. Many ambitious divers wish to explore beyond 50m and connect the flag to their body with a line. This is risky because a boat could catch your line and drag you through the water. Avoid attaching the line to your body, although you can still use it underwater. You can safely move the line by holding it in your hand and pulling it. This will allow you to swiftly release the line if it becomes caught, preventing injury.