Why should you keep your mask on your face while on the surface?

Years ago I remember reading a post on Scuba Board about a diver who had dropped her mask. She was simply requesting that if anyone found it could they return it. One poster responded berating her for having her mask off at the surface. While his post was a bit harsh it certainly stuck with me. Fast forward years later, being an instructor and I understood perfectly well why this guy had felt the need to rant.

Not that I am going to rant now,but seeing divers without a mask on their face and snorkel or regulator in their mouth certainly gets my bikini in a knot. It’s not good practice, dangerous and a bad habit to perpetuate by simply doing and showing others.

Why? It’s simple really, your mask keeps water out of your eyes and enables you to see and your snorkel or regulator allows you to breath. This means comfort and safety.

Good Practice
Good Practice

True it doesn’t feel comfy in your first sessions as we are not used to having anything stuck to our face and particularly something which causes us to breathe through our mouth rather than our nose. Taking it off as soon as you can is a subconscious action but one that needs training early on. Do you remember your instructor patiently repeating, “Ok, now put you mask back on your face and…” ?

Sure its nice to clean your face of any goo your body may have decorated your face with but you can just lift your mask and wipe to do that. Your mask and snorkel or reg should remain in place until you are on the boat or shore.

Being able to see and breath comfortably makes a surface swim or waiting for the boat pick up for comfortable and safe even in big waves. Choppy seas play havoc with fin and gear removal. If you have ever to watched someone try remove fins in choppy seas while holding onto a drift line and not wearing a mask and snorkel or reg, you will understand exactly what I mean.

No water getting in here !
No water getting in here !

Shore divers should always have all their gear in place- think about it – if you slip and then the tide pulls you out….its not as far fetched as it sounds – really !

Ultimately though its about protecting your airway until you are safely out of the water. An unprotected airway can lead to drowning, its really as simple as that.

So please, help get this knot out of my bikini and be safer divers – keep your mask on your face and your snorkel or reg in your mouth until you are safely on board or on dry land.

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