Scuba diving is not a solitary activity – as a matter of fact, it is counter-advised to dive without having at least one other person accompanying you. The nature of diving equipment and the water around the divers does not permit the use of voice signals under the water, but divers can still communicate with the help of scuba diving hand signals. There are over 200 hand signals used for indicating various situations – here are a few of the most important signs you must learn in order to be able to communicate with your dive partner.
The OK and the Problem signs are probably the most basic and the most important of all scuba diving hand signals. The OK signal is made by forming a loop from your thumb and index finger. The OK sign is an ask-respond signal, meaning that you must reply to it when you see it made by your dive partner. The Not OK signal is made by flattening your hand and rotating it from side to side, followed immediately by the indication of the problem. If you have an ear problem, for example, you make the Problem sign, then point to your ear with your index finger.
Learning the scuba diving hand signals to tell your partner which way you are planning to go is also very important. Under the water, the Thumb-up signal used all over the world on land to say that something is good means that you want to end the dive, so make sure you use it only when you want to tell your partner you are going up to the surface. Similarly, the Thumb-down signal indicates that you are diving deeper, not that you disprove of something your partner is doing. Next, moving your flattened hand from left to right, then withdrawing it means that you want to stay at the same level.
You can tell your dive partner that you are out of air by moving your hand forward, then down at 45 degrees, while tightening your fist means that you are having a cramp and moving your index finger in small circles means that you are dizzy. With scuba diving hand signals you can indicate problems and you can also ask questions. Raise a crooked index finger to form a question mark, then use any of the other signals – the question mark followed by the thumb up signal means that you want to know whether you should go up or continue your dive.