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Ditch Your Weights!

Ditch Your Weights in an Emergency!! - Weight Replacement Program
AUC's newest program "Ditch Your Weights" in an Emergency - at surface or at depth -

This is a program to remind scuba divers that while scuba
fatalities are rare, most often the reports show that victims
failed to ditch their weight belt/system.  
To add t
o the difficulty of this skill are the temperate
or cold water conditions here in Alberta which requires
heavier weights, 7mm wetsuits or drysuits,
plus thicker hoods & mitts/gloves.  

The Alberta Underwater Council wishes to encourage,
educate & promote safe diving practices for all scuba
divers in Alberta.  If you had to "Ditch Your Weights"
while diving in Alberta during a non-training dive,
you can apply to the AUC to have your weights, belt,
and/or pockets replaced for free if unrecovered.  
The "catch"??  The AUC will try to recover them first
(if possible) PLUS you must share your emergency

scuba scenario that led to ditching weights to help
educate other divers. Your story will be posted on
AUC's website, Facebook group page, eNews, etc. 
Note: also
must be certified diver & a resident of Alberta. 

Questions? Send email:

Scuba Safety Smart Tips
Ditch Your Weights!

Divers are encouraged to remember to practice "ditching their weights" so that in an life-threatening

emergency they can respond quickly & more easily.  As it is often not "practical" (except in a pool)

to ditch weights, divers are reminded to mentally rehearse before every dive to "ditch yours and

your buddy's weights".  Print Friendly PDF here

Scuba divers are reminded to practice their scuba skills regularly - especially when still renting

their scuba gear -  as every set of "rental gear" is always just a little bit different from the last. 

So practicing your scuba skills (including ditching your weight belt/weights) in a pool often can help.

Unlike other activities & sports (like riding a bicyle or driving a snowmobile), scuba diving skills, especially the "essential scuba lifesaving" ones are often "lost" when a diver only dives once or twice a year 'cause - if you don't use it - you'll lose it!  Most of us - drive everyday so cycling or snowmobiling after a long break feels easy BUT when was the last time you were out scuba diving? Living here in Alberta doesn't make it easy to jump in the water with a scuba tank on your back after many months of snow. 

Before participating in an AUC Dive Alberta event or other local dive store, dive club event or dive holiday or exotic dive travel, divers are encouraged to practice their skills in a pool or take a scuba skills update or scuba refresher course from their favourite local dive store or instructor. Or join a dive club and get out & get diving! Dive-in in at an AUC annual dive event or lake cleanup & have fun underwater this year and remember:

During a difficult scuba and/or panic situation - when you can't think clearly - the number one rule (even at the surface) is to remember to DITCH YOUR WEIGHTS!


Your life is worth way more than the cost of a weight belt or intregrated weight pouch (which can often be retrieved later anyways!) and AUC offers a new program: Free Weight Replacement for AB Divers (see details abover).  


Constant practice at the beginning & throughout your scuba diving activities creates "muscle memory" which helps making the removal of your weight belt quick, automatic and easier if needed in an emergency!  This muscle memory also helps you respond automatically to save yourself or your dive buddy instead of reacting in PANIC!

Dive buddy checks should be done before every dive - tropical or temperate, boat or shore - by every diver regardless of experience, familiarity with your gear & each other.  Plus mentally rehearsing "ditching your weights" or practice air sharing skills before a "panic" or emergency situation could help save you or your buddy life!

HINT: During Buddy Gear Checks - mentally practice ditching your own & your buddy's weights!

 Be sure you're properly weighted, review your buoyancy & scuba safety skills like practice air sharing in controlled conditions like a swimming pool after a period of inactivity in diving.

Getting the Weighting - Just Right:

The Problem With Too Much Weight:    

Divers with an excessive amount of weight will have a more difficult time controlling their buoyancy.

The more weight a diver uses, the more air he will need to add to his BCD to compensate for the

negative buoyancy from his weights. As air in a diver's BCD expands and compresses with any small

change in depth, the more air he has in his BCD, and the greater volume air that is expanding and


This makes it more difficult for the diver to control his buoyancy as he changes depth.

To avoid this problem, be sure to perform a test for proper weighting before diving.  In a controlled conditions: add or subtract weight - in small increments until you are able to float at eye level at surface without any air in the BC & be able to descend just by breathing out.  But remember to add an extra few pounds if using a standard aluminum tanks to counteract its extra buoyancy at end of a dive as the aluminum tank becomes more buoyant as you breathe down its air. Or if using a steel tank subtract weight as it's weight properties don't change as the air decreases in the steel tank.


Too Little Weight: 

Once you've experienced a whole dive trying to stay down or fighting the buoyancy of that aluminum tank at the end of a dive during a safety stop - you'll never want to experience that again. 


Either way - too much or too little weight - forces the diver to work way to hard underwater, use too much air, which can lead to over-exertion, over-breathing, diver fatigue & exhaustion, become more & more out-of-breath, which can increase your anxiety levels which can lead to panic & its catastrophic consequences.  So time spent, getting your weighting just right is worth it. 


Every time you change your gear - you need to adjust your weighting.  Be sure to record weights used with what wetsuit/drysuit in your log book.


Common Weighting Formula:

Fresh Water: Standard AL 80 Scuba Tank:

Swimsuit or thin dive skin: try 1-4 pounds, or .05 - 2 kgs

3mm Wetsuit or Shortly: Convert 5% of your Body Weight to pounds

5mm Wetsuit: Convert 10% of your Body Weight to pounds

7mm with hood/gloves: Convert 10% of your Body Weight to pounds PLUS add 3-5 pounds (1.5 - 3 kgs)

Neoprene Drysuit: Convert 10% of your Body Weight to pounds PLUS add 7-10 lbs (3-5 kgs)

Shell Style Drysuit with heavy underwear*: Convert 10% of your Body Weight to pounds PLUS add 7-14 lbs (3-7 kgs)

*Note: Drysuit undergarments vary a lot & can increase the amount of weight needed to stay neutrally buoyant.


Salt Water: (Add to above calculations for Fresh Water)

If you are: 100 - 125 lbs (45-56 kg) ADD 4 pounds (2 kg)

126 - 155 lbs (57-70 kg) ADD 5 pounds (2.3 kg)

156 - 186 lbs (71-85 kg) ADD 6 pounds (3 kg)

187 - 217 lbs (86 - 99 kg) ADD 7 pounds (3.2 kg), etc


IF USING STEEL Tanks - start out using slightly less weight than the formula above.


Apply these basics of buoyancy, get weighted properly by spending time in water slightly over your head in a pool, near a dock or use a dive float to add/subtract weights. 


Plus beginner divers can also make use a dive float with a weighted line to practice controlling their descents & ascents in open water.  Especially useful when diving in an Alberta lake where there is no dock.



Learn to swim underwater horizontally, learn frog-kick or other finning techniques, practice neutral buoyancy & hovering in your local pool facility or at AUC Dive events or lake cleanups around the province or around the world & enjoy scuba diving neutrally buoyant & have fun! 

Guess what?  Practice makes perfect!  Apply the basics of buoyancy, get weighted properly, get out & practice netural buoyancy in your local pool facility, or at AUC Dive Events/Lake Cleanups around the province or around the world & enjoy scuba fun safely!


Dive Safe, Always! 

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