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I have asked this question to many students and instructors alike, and have always gotten tons of different answers.
When I took my initial dive training as a college coarse back in 1993, my dive instructor told us to never rest our mask on our head while on the surface, as it was the -
"International Sign on Stress and Panic"
If caught doing this absolutely tabo act, we would be fined a 6 pack of his favorite beverage. If I remember correctly, I donated at least a case of Corona before completing my training.
My Instructor said " This punishment is for your own good. Out in the Open Water, if someone see's you with your mask on your head, they will think your in trouble and jump in and try to save you."
Because he was our instructor and we trusted his words, I never doubted him. I went on to become a Dive Instructor and taught my students the same thing for several years.
I do wonder though, is this right? Or is this just all a conspiracy to keep the dive shops fridge full of beer?
I can tell you, from my real world experience over the last ten years as a dive professional, I have seen two actual panic situations on the surface, and both times, both divers ditched their masks completely! Gone, to the bottom!
As well, I have seen hundreds of divers resting on the surface with their masks on their heads and NEVER, NOT ONCE, SERIOUSLY THOUGHT THAT PERSON WAS IN TROUBLE.
So, this got me to thinking, where did this all come from?
I looked back through my open water book, my advanced books, my rescue book, and my instructor materials, and couldn't find anything that said we should be teaching this to our students.
The closest thing I could find was that the mask on top of the head could be an indicator that the diver is feeling stressed. On the other hand, it could just mean the diver is completely comfortable to.
So, I'm interested in what you all really think!
International Sign of Panic
Conspiracy -to keep the fridge full of beer
I was taught that some people consider it as a sign of panic or stress which never really made sense to me or my instructor either, he taught us that the mask on the forehead is just bad form because if a wave comes, or you get shook for whatever reason, you lose your mask. I understand that sometimes the ocean is flat or you're diving a lake or whatever but you never know and it's better to practice good habits early rather than rehearse bad habits.
I got taught the exact same thing and even today I consider myself a NMOF diver but now more out of habit rather than any particular reason. I have however seen more than one MOF diver lose their masks if the skipper doesn't quite get his angle and speed right when breaking through the waves on the pontoon boats (rubberducks) up in Sodwana (South Africa) or Mozambique and of course that means, unless they have a spare mask, it's a topside sit-out for the dive watching their dive party do backward rolls off to have fun for the next hour while they sit keeping the skipp company and helping to haul gear back on board when everyone returns. This is one of the only reasons I see much logic behind not wearing MOF IMHO. But to each his/her own.
When I was a kid skindiving it was just easier to raise the mask up on my forehead when on the surface than it was to wrestle it up over my ears. I never wore a hood and don't see why a belt loop is not common on the back of a hood to secure a mask in the event it gets washed off.
ps what is mof? if you feel talkative all the rest of these acronyms are new to me also.
as for international sign of panic I thought was lots of splashing and arm waving without seeming control.
well what does a lifeguard look for?