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How to use a safety sausage (SMB)?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Maggy, Oct 28, 2008.

  1. Maggy

    Maggy Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Sweden

    I bought a saftey sausage (about 4-5 ft) and thought it should be rather simple to figure out how to use it (and to find a proper user guide). Well, sorry if I am asking a stupid question, but I need some help.

    There are weights in the bottom and the only way to enter air is by pressing these weights apart, so that the sausage opens. If I shall fill this sausage with air when I am on the surface, should I take the regulator, hold it under the surface, free flow it into the sausage and fill it up? Or how do I do?

    My intension is not to fill it up when I am down there, it's going to be used in case I need it on the surface.

    Appreciate any help how to use it. Don't have to add that I am new to diving (AOW with 19 dives). I only dive with dive operators so far. But I thought I should be prepared anyway, you never know what can happen.
  2. Supershark

    Supershark Angel Fish

    # of Dives:
    Location: Thailand
    Hi Maggy,

    First let me say how great it is that you are taking some responsibility for your own safety, I love to see new divers asking these types of questions. I have seen experienced divers not know how to use this very basic piece of safety equipment. Below is some info from Padi for the use of smb's. I hope it helps.

    1. Surface Marker Buoys serve a range of purposes. They are used to:
    a. Allow shore cover / boat support to identify an ascending diver
    b. Alert boat traffic to the presence of a diver
    c. Provide a visual reference for ascending divers
    2. Surface Marker Buoys are popular for use in areas with heavy boat traffic, or
    where divers may be drifting in a current.
    3. Delayed Surface Marker Buoys are popular where divers are unable to return
    to the shotline to ascend, or where divers may not have a visual reference once
    they end the dive.

    1. Delayed SMBs are launched from depth, once the buddy team has reached a
    pre-selected depth or point during their dive.
    2. The delayed SMB is prepared, and attached to the clip on the reel.
    3. The delayed SMB must be inflated with air. This can be achieved in a number
    of ways
    a. It can be inflated using the divers alternate air source
    b. It can be inflated using the diver’s buddy’s alternate air source
    c. It can be inflated using the exhaled bubbles from the diver’s second
    stage, or from air being dumped from the diver’s LPI.
    d. It can be inflated using a separate air source, such as a small dedicated
    cylinder for this purpose.
    4. The reel should either be held by the diver, or attached to a non-sensitive part
    of the bottom topography. The reel should never be physically attached to a
    diver whilst the delayed SMB is being inflated, as this risks a runaway ascent.
    5. Once the DSMB is on the surface, the diver should keep the line taut, which
    will cause the SMB to ‘stand up’ on the surface and increase its visibility.
    6. When launching a delayed SMB, divers should be aware of objects or divers
    above them. These could include boats or parts of a wreck. Divers should
    always look up and check that there are no obvious risk.

    As you can see from this, it is recommended that you deploy the smb whilst still underwater, so I would say talk with the dive leader on your next dive and have them show you how to use your smb safely.

    Dive Safe
  3. Maggy

    Maggy Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Sweden
    Thank you for your reply!

    OK, I understand that it's best to fill it with air from underwater. But what if I am not aware of that I will need it until I reach the surface, should I then descend again lika half a meter or just enough, to fill it? Or is it possible to do from the surface? I don't plan to use it on every dive (but will have it with me of course), as most places I have been diving, have a line to hang on to when ascending.

    I will definitely ask the dive leader to show how to use it, so I feel comfortable with it.

    Thanks for the kind words that I am thinking the right way.
  4. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many.

    # of Dives:
    Location: Woodinville, WA
    The problem with filling a bag on the surface is that there is no force causing the air to enter the bag. If you hold the orifice of the bag under the surface, you can direct the output of the regulator into the bag, but unless you can seal the edges around it, there is no pressure to cause the bag to inflate. Most bags inflated on the surface are orally inflated, either through a valve or by blowing into the open end.
  5. Kim

    Kim Here for my friends..... ScubaBoard Supporter

    I normally use a SS/SMB to mark my position from underwater so that boats can see where I am...... either to come get me, or maybe to avoid running me over with a propeller as I'm surfacing. :D

    Great plan!

    Anyone learning to use an SS/SMB is thinking the right way! :wink:
  6. Maggy

    Maggy Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Sweden
    Thanks. Now I understand better how this works. Maybe I bought the wrong device, because I was surpriced that it was not any possibility to inflate it orally. I kind of took it for granted. The brand is Mares.

    But what do you suggest, is it possible to just descend a feet to inflate it? Or should I get another device?

    Like I said before, when I dive, most are not drift dives and with a line to a bouy there is no need to show where I surface. But IF I or my buddy and I get separeated from the group, I will be able to show where I am. And also if I will dive at sites where you drift dive and the boat follow you (so far I have done that in Mexico and Thailand).

    I use to rely on the dive leader, but thought that was a bad idea after reading several threads about being separated from the group or boat.
  7. Supershark

    Supershark Angel Fish

    # of Dives:
    Location: Thailand
    SMB's are very useful in drift dives. I live and work in thailand, i carry 2 smb's. You can rely on the leader, however let's say that you and your buddy have lots more air than 1 other person in the group, you can continue the dive then deploy the smb. You get good value for money as you can get the full time out of your dive.

    Learn how to deploy it underwater and your diving experiences will get better
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2008
  8. Maggy

    Maggy Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Sweden
    Supershark, I will learn how to deploy it from underwater. It's a good idea.

    Do I need another SMB for the surface situation I describe? Or will you say that this one is enough? Still confused about if possible to deploy it someway if you already are at the surface.

    Sorry that I don't totally "get it" yet.
  9. dkktsunami

    dkktsunami Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Georgia coast
    Maggy, If your intent is to use the marker to signal a dive boat of your location on the surface, if you were caught in current for example, a "safety sausage" is what you want to use. This is designed to be orally inflated on the surface by blowing into a stem. This differs from a SMB which is deployed under water for a number of different reasons. The safety sausage is generally a little smaller, is not attached to a line and reel, and is easy to use. It is a good idea to carry one of these, even when on a commercial dive boat, if you are in an area of current or higher seas and there is the possibility of surfacing away from your boat.
  10. ltw123

    ltw123 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: FL

    One of the good things that the SMB can do for you is let people on the boat/surface know you have a problem when it first happens (while you're under water) rather than having to wait until you ascend to the surface. If there was a strong current and you were unable to ascend on the line, you can deploy your smb from depth and let the boat know "hey, here I am" before the current takes you so far away from the boat that it's difficult to spot you. With the smb up, someone on the surface can easily track you and make it a simple matter of coming to pick you up rather than having to look for you (hoping they see you) and then come pick you up.

    Deploying the smb from depth is a skill that takes practice (and a spool or reel). If you don't know what you're doing, you can easily lose control of your buoyancy and rocket toward the surface...a REALLY BAD thing. So before trying this, talk with someone who knows and make sure that you understand what's going to happen, work on your buoyancy control, and practice in shallow water.

    The smb that you have can be inflated on the surface, but isn't the ideal tool for the job. Play with it in your living room. You will want to "seal" the opening of the smb around the mouth piece on your regulator. This will help to trap the air in the smb. Otherwise, most of the air will just blow in and then out of the smb. It's like blowing up a balloon, you have to keep the seal otherwise you lose the air. If you can inflate it on the sofa, use the same technique while floating in the water. Just remember that by the time you surface, you may be a long way from the people that you want to communicate with.

    This is a valuable and potentially life saving skill. Congratulations on taking a step in your self reliance and preservation.

    In my opinion, a smb with a one way oral inflate valve (can be easily inflated on the surface or at depth) and a over pressure release valve (keeps the smb from exploding as it goes to the surface) is a good way to go.

    Have fun and be safe.

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