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Scuba signaling devices

Your Scuba Signaling Device

Scuba divers can be hard to spot in the water, even a relatively short distance from a boat or shore if conditions are rough. Signaling devices are important safety equipment that help scuba divers be seen and heard if they need assistance.

Also known as : safety sausage, surface signaling devices, inflatable signal tube, marine whistle, shriekers, powerhorn, signal mirror, inflatable buoys.

Surface SignalingRequired features

Sight and sound – At a minimum, you should have at least one visual signaling device and at least one audible signaling device.





Place HolderOn you at all times – Your signaling devices should be with you whenever you’re in the water, so make them a standard part of your kit.






Inflatable Signaling device for scuba diversDesirable features

Readily accessible yet out of the way – You want to be able to signal quickly, yet locate the device in a way that keeps you streamlined. A common strategy is to attach a marine whistle on your BCD inflator. You can easily reach your mouth with it, but it doesn’t drag or dangle. Visual devices usually store in a pocket.

Back up to powered signals – Air horns are much louder than whistles because they use air from your scuba tank. Battery powered strobes are visible in low light for miles. But, they require a full tank and good batteries, respectively. If you have powered devices, carry unpowered whistles and signal mirrors, for example, so you can still signal without air or if the batteries fail.


Inflatable signal tubesOptional features

There are several types of surface signaling devices to choose from.

  • Whistles – Two-toned versions carry a long way over water.
  • Inflatable signal tubes – These are brightly colored inflatable tubes that jut high above the surface to make you more visible.
  • Signal mirror – Reflection is visible even to aircraft.
  • Flasher – A repeating strobe, these are highly visible at night.
  • Dye markers – Although not commonly carried by divers, dye markers are useful in open ocean (well beyond sight of shore) diving because they make a large colored area visible to boats and aircraft.
  • Dive light – On a night dive, your dive light doubles as a signaling device.


  • If you don’t have signaling devices already, invest in them with you select your BCD. You usually keep them in your BCD, so this is a natural fit.
  • Use both. Sound devices get attention and visual devices make your location known. In an emergency, use them both if you need to be sure someone sees you.
  • Avoid the biggest problem. The biggest problem related to surface signaling devices is not having them when you need them. Always have them with you and you always have them when you need one.