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Deploying Your Safety Sausage

Learning how to use your submersible marker buoy is a key dive skill

Some divers are taught how to deploy a submersible marker buoy (SMB) or safety sausage during their entry-level training, even if just at the surface. But if you’re unfamiliar with the technique, now is a great time to learn. SMB deployment is an essential skill, and the majority of diving scenarios that require one occur below the surface, usually on a safety stop or deeper. SMB deployment underwater is essential in the following diving situations:

  • When you’re drift diving and need to signal your location to the boat
  • When ascending from a dive site in current and you must signal the boat for a pick up
  • On a safety stop in an area where there is boat traffic and prior to ascent
  • When blue-water drift diving in order to provide a visual reference for the group
  • When ascending in either clear or low-vis water and you must provide a reference for group
  • For rebreather divers on an ascent, as bubbles aren’t usually visible to boats
  • For technical divers upon ascending, to alert both the boat and surface support, as well as to provide a visual reference for team to follow

In the video, we use a cavern reel to deploy the safety sausage; these are usually a little trickier to work with than a finger spool since there’s more risk of entanglement or jamming. If a diver is comfortable deploying from a traditional reel then he or she should find a spool that’s easier to work with.

How to deploy your safety sausage:

  • Diver pulls out the SMB and adds a small puff of air to stabilize it mid-water
  • Diver connects the reel to the SMB, either with a clip or by looping it back over the reel through the SMB handle
  • Diver holds the reel away from his body and slightly above the SMB with the line taut so it does not catch or entangle
  • Diver checks that the area above is clear
  • Diver inflates the SMB using exhaled breathes, and ensures the SMB is fully over the 2nd stage when exhaling
  • Diver steadies the reel on deployment, pulls the bag straight with the line vertical, and locks the reel

If it’s been a while since you last practiced this skill, we always recommend doing so under professional supervision. Should the reel jam, let go of it so as to avoid a rapid ascent, and retrieve later on. All divers should periodically practice this skill in order to stay sharp.