BWRAF: What is This ?
If you were a pilot getting ready to fly a plane, no matter what size or type, there are certain things you must do before you leave the ground for the 'wide blue yonder'. That one thing is a basic inspection of the plane. They call this the pre-flight inspection. They check the gauges, make sure they have fuel in the wings, make sure all controls are "free and clear." Make sure the oil is filled, make sure the plane has all the required paper. The pilot has insures that he is rested and ready to take this flight. They do this because, and for one reason only. They know that if they do find something wrong or 'out of place', the pilot or crew could take care of it on the ground and not in the air. Make sense. It should. And aren't you glad they do it for the commercial flights?
As in diving, we have a similar inspection, we call it the BWRAF which stands for Begin With Review And Friend.
Before an explanation of what this is, I must first say that it is vitally important to always dive with a buddy. Your buddy will do this brief inspection on you and your gearm and then you will return the favor and do the same on him and his gear.
B - BCD (BUOYANCY COMPENSATION DEVICE)
Make sure that it is the correct size, and that there are no obvious problems with it. Do an quick over-all look at it. Is it torn in places that may cause a problem, does it "just look" safe ? Check the inflaters, do they work, both orally and manually. Are there any loose ends?
W - WEIGHTS and WEIGHT SYSTEMS
Did they remember to put them in? You may be surprised to learn that some divers do forget this step. You do not want to be in the water and forget your weights. I have seen divers that did it. Is the amount weight they have fit the suit and water type they are going to dive. You need to ask these questions: are you diving with a wet suit or dry suit; fresh water or salt water, 3 mil or 6 mil suit. The weights and amounts to choose does makes a difference. So know all this before hand. Good idea to do a dive site briefing before you get there.
R – RELEASES
Do you know where every one is located ? Start at the top and work your way down. They may have a chest strap, belly strap, and cumber bun. Don't forget to look at the weight system they have. Integrated or external ? If they are using a weight belt, do they have a right hand release ? Check them all. You as their buddy need to know these things BEFORE the dive and not learn them underwater. Then it may be too late.
A - AIR SUPPLY
Check the valve to make sure the air is on. Again I have seen divers forget to turn on the air. There is nothing worse than getting in the water and forgetting to turn your air on. Check your air gauge and make sure you have enough air for the dive you are planning to make. Air on the surface does you no good when you are underwater. Are you making a long, deep dive? - get a fresh tank. Short shallow dive you may be able to use less than a full tank. But know before you get in the water.
Lastly, taste the air to ensure that is it doe not taste stale. Put the regulator in your mouth and take a few breathes and taste it. At the same time you are doing this, you are checking your regulator to determine if it is working properly.
F - FRIEND - FINAL OK
Do a final look over your buddy's system to ensure that you did not forget anything. That you have all your equipment in place, that nothing is dangling. If all is OK, then give your dive buddy a 'thumbs' up. After you do this, have your buddy return the favor. This only takes about 5 minutes, but it is time well spent.
Do not ever forget to do this check on each and every time, every time. Period.