Closed Circuit Rebreather Diving: Honor Thy Checklist

Diving on a closed circuit rebreather isn’t for everyone. It’s a change of mental attitude, a change of mindset. There are no shortcuts. With a normal scuba diving kit in a recreational setup, you can check your gas, toss it on, go for a dive then rinse your gear afterward and feel pretty good that you had a great day under the water.

It’s fair to say that rebreathers can be life threatening, if used improperly.

Cars, helicopters and firearms can all be dangerous too. With the right training, attitude and mindset; they can all be operated with a relatively large margin of safety. It’s the same with a rebreather.

With a rebreather, you’ll need to be prepared to conduct pre and post-use maintenance. It could take up to an hour for each evolution. No longer can you trust someone else to assemble your gear and know it’s safe to dive.

There is an elevated sense of personal accountability and responsibility when it comes to putting the loop in your mouth and taking your first breath.

One of the measures in place to ensure that we, as CCR divers, are not putting ourselves in danger when we are breathing out of what constitutes a highly technologically advanced plastic bag is our checklists. They’re sacred. They’re important. They’re revered. And they should be…because to err is to be human.

So, what do we do? We honor thy checklist. If nothing else, just to have a peace of mind that when the loop is in your mouth and you’re breathing from it, that you can rest assured that you completed all the steps correctly, not in a rush and with a mindfulness that will ensure you come back from the dive with minimal or no issues.

How do we do that? No distractions. No extra conversations. Don’t start and stop the checklist, work through it and give it your full attention. Give your undivided attention to what you’re doing.

For me, when I’m about to start my pre-breathing* I ask myself did I honor the checklist?

If I answer yes, then I know I’m good to go. If I am distracted or skip a step or am mentally absent, then maybe I’ll go back through and double check my kit to put myself in the right frame of mind.

At the end of the day, just like handling a firearm; we are responsible for our actions and consequences on our rebreathers. If following a checklist, adhering to procedures and rules isn’t in your playbook, then open circuit scuba diving might be the way to go. But, if you can start to change your mindset then it opens up a whole new world of close circuit rebreather diving.


pre-breathing: a five minute breathing cycle on the loop, utilizing the rebreather as if you were diving but while still on land or the boat to ensure that the unit is working properly




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