Scuba diving is a sport where safety is the number one priority. One of the risks to be aware of is boat traffic above the surface while there are divers under the water. Also, boat traffic can be loud if not diving too deep but if surfacing or not diving too deep it may be a problem and cause a collision.
The risk is that the boat running could run over you. The solution is to inform the boats that their divers are in the area, this is why they use the diver down flags. You need to be familiar with what does a diver down flag looks like, as well as the different types.
In today’s post, we will go through more about what does a diver down flag look like in more detail, so let’s get started!
Read more on common questions asked by divers
What Does A Divers Flag Look Like?
There are two types of flags that are used to indicate there is diving going on. These are.
- Traditional dive flag.
- Alpha flag.
The traditional flag is the recognized recreational dive flag that is recognized mainly in the United States and Canada. It is a red flag with a white stripe running from the topmast side to the bottom opposite side.
This flag is used in the following countries.
- United States of America.
- Any countries that follow the US diving culture such as the countries in the Caribbean.
For diver safety, there are regulations that require divers to display the flag while diving and to stay within that specific area near the surface. The area around the flag that no boats are allowed to pass.
The Alpha flag is an internationally recognized flag, the Alpha flag also signifying the letter A in the flag alphabet. The Alpha flag is a blue and white flag. The mast side is a white rectangle with a notched blue rectangle outside.
This flag is used in all countries of the world with the exception mainly the USA and Canada.
When Should The Diver Down Flags Be Used?
The dive down flags are used when you need to alert any approaching boats that you have a diver down. It does not necessarily mean that there is a diver underwater.
It also means is that the dive boat is restricted in its ability to maneuver and that other vessels must give way.
How Far Away Should Boats Stay Away From a Diver Down Flag?
Boats not involved in diving should aim for at least 60 meters away and should remain at a safe distance away from where the flag is displayed.
What Should You Do When You See A Displayed Diver Down Flag While Boating?
If you are scuba diving or given snorkeling, you must display a diver-down flag. This is for your own safety.
If you are out boating and see a diver down flag you should maintain a distance of at least 25 meters from any displayed diver-down flag.
Helpful Rules For Both Divers And Drivers
To help prevent any accidents while driving a boat or scuba diving, there are some general rules that will reduce the risks.
For Boat Drivers
- You should at least 200 feet (60 meters) away from diver down flags and 100 feet (30 meters) in lakes or inlets.
- Swimming platforms on boats tend to be at the back of the boat. Those tend to be slippery and divers need to be careful not to fall into the propeller.
- Keep in mind that divers may have some difficulty estimating distance underwater. And they may not be near the flag.
- Make sure it is easy and safe to re-boarding the boat.
- Before starting the engine, make sure no diver is in the vicinity of the boat.
For Scuba Divers
- Firstly, ensure that always place the diver-down flags before going diving. The flag can be attached to a float but should be clearly visible from all directions.
- Try and surface within 50 meters of the dive flag.
- Definitely if surfacing in an emergency use the surface marker buoy (SMB) especially if away from the diver-down flag.
- While ascending, look around, and pay attention and listen for boat noises.
Dive Down Flags Are For Diver Safety
The flags are there to protect the diver. They inform and alert boat traffic that there are divers in the water, this helps to avoid a collision. It is also the responsibility of the diver to not ascend too quickly and near as possible to the dive flag or dive boat.
Divers should always consider that not all boat drivers are familiar with the use of dive flags.
What Dive Flag Should You Use?
The blue and white flag (Alpha flag) is internationally recognized as the diver down flag. This is the official flag in most countries outside of North America. This is required to be used by law.
In the USA and Canada (North America) where the red and white diving flag is recognized and required. It needs to be displayed prominently. Putting up the Alfa flag as well does no harm at all but will probably not be recognized by all vessels.
Finally, the use of the diver down flag is important especially regarding the diver’s safety and it is also important to be familiar with being able to identify what they look like. There are two divers-down flags with one internationally recognized and the other for North America.
And that’s it for now! I’d love to know if this guide on what does a diver down flag look like has helped you. Let me know if you have any questions and let me know if there is more to add.