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A Guide to Selecting and Using a Signal Tube or Surface Marker Buoy

A signal tube or surface marker buoy is one of the best tools that can be used to make a diver very visible to the crew in the dive boat. Divers must do everything possible to avoid being stranded in the sea. Sea water is usually quite cold and hypothermia can set in if the diver cannot reach the dive boat early. Water currents can move the diver far away; and with the additional danger of wild marine creatures, no diver can afford to play with his safety. That is why this guide provides vital information on how to select and use a suitable signal tube.

Big Signal Tubes Are More Effective
Signal tubes come in various sizes starting from 4 feet and extending up to about 7 feet. The longer the signal tube the better it is for the diver. It is true that inflating a longer signal tube with an oral inflator will require more effort. But it is still better to spend 30 more seconds to inflate the signal tube than to use one that cannot easily be seen from the boat.

Choose a Highly Visible Color
In addition to size, color plays the second most vital role in a signal tube. Although divers are not confined to any particular color, very bright colors are better than dull colors. Also, a color that has a strong contrast with the color of the horizon and the sea will make it easier to see a diver from a long distance. Examples of colors that offer high visibility include bright colors such as red, orange, green, and yellow.

Pick Your Accessories Carefully
In addition to standard accessories like the inflator, you can also buy additional things to enhance visibility. Strobe lights and reflective elements are very useful to divers who stay late at sea. As daylight fades into twilight, the reflective elements will make it easier to spot a diver from several hundreds of yards. When choosing strobe lights, opt for LED lights that will consume less energy and remain on for a much longer time.

Any diver who carries special equipment like photo and video recording equipment should use a signal tube that is integrated with the buoyancy compensation device (BCD). So as the diver inflates the scuba bcds, the signal tube can also get inflated without much effort. In fact, such signal tubes can easily be inflated and deployed while the diver is still under water.

Take Proper Care of Your Signal Tubes
Your signal tube can only provide the required visibility and safety if it functions perfectly when you need it. To ensure that it is always in top working condition, take these steps:
* Clean signal tubes after use: Clean your signal tube with plenty of water to remove dirt, salt and other contaminants. Make sure it is completely dry before you put it in storage.
* Examine the tube before each dive: Look closely at the stitches of the fabric and check for any torn or worn out parts. Repair all damaged parts, replace faulty accessories, and test the tube before you dive into the water.
* Practice using the tube periodically: If you don't dive very often, you should endeavor to practice using your signal tube at least two or three times a year. This will help you to keep the equipment in good condition and ensure that you can use it efficiently when you actually need it.

Choosing an appropriate signal tube and using it properly can be a life saver for any diver. With the tips and ideas provided above, you can choose a suitable signal tube and use it to provide accurate visual information about your location to your fellow divers or dive boat crew.


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