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Scuba Diving Refresher Checklist: Everything You Need to Get Back in the Water

If you are planning your next dive trip or local diving adventure but haven’t been in the water for a while, you may be considering taking the PADI ReActivate scuba diving refresher program. Taking a scuba refresher is a great way to refresh your dive theory knowledge and basic dive skills so that you feel confident and self-assured when you next go diving.

PADI Reactivate has two components: knowledge development, which can be studied online with PADI eLearning, and an optional (but highly recommended) in-water session to review your dive skills.

In this blog, we help you to prepare for a scuba diving refresher with a checklist that covers before, during, and after your PADI ReActivate program, so you get the most out of both your PADI refresher theory and in-water skills session.

Pre-PADI ReActivate Scuba Diving Refresher Checklist

Before taking the PADI ReActivate program, there are a number of things you can do to ensure you are properly prepared. Here’s a scuba refresher checklist to work through before you begin:

  1. Sign up online for PADI ReActivate eLearning. You can use this link and get started right away. PADI eLearning allows you to study in the comfort of your own home and at a pace that suits you. You’ll find that the online component is highly interactive and includes videos and scenarios to provide you with reminders and to check your understanding.

  2. Contact your local dive center and book your in-water session. This means that you’ve given yourself a date by which to complete your eLearning component, too!

  3. Dig out any scuba gear that you own and intend to use. If you haven’t been diving in a while, it’s likely your gear has been stored away. Check all items carefully for any signs of deterioration. If it’s been a while since you have had any items serviced, you may want to have them checked over and serviced by a professional. When checking your gear, make sure you check the battery level in your dive computer, too – they don’t last forever!

  4. Locate your logbook and certification cards. Your dive center will want to see your cards and you can make a note in your logbook of your PADI ReActivate in-water session.

  5. Complete your PADI ReActivate eLearning, take the quick review, and save or print your PADI ReActivate eLearning Certificate. It’s a good idea to email this to your chosen dive center, so they have it in advance of your in-water session.

In-Water Scuba Diving Refresher Checklist

If you are wondering what the optional, in-water component of the PADI ReActivate program entails, here’s a checklist for what you’ll cover under the guidance of a PADI Professional. Keep in mind that the PADI ReActivate dive skills session is prescriptive, meaning that your PADI Pro will tailor-make the review to your specific needs. This is just one example of how the session may run.

  1. You will begin the session with a bit of an interview with your PADI Pro who will ask you questions like these:

    1. How many dives have you made, and in what conditions and environments?

    2. When and where were your last dives?

    3. What skills do you want to practice?

    4. How did your last dives go? What would help you to improve them?

  2. Next, the Pro will watch you with set up your dive gear. It’s easy to forget how things fit together – especially if you are using rental gear which may be a different brand to what you’ve used previously. Remember that the PADI Professional is there to help, so don’t be afraid to ask about anything you are not sure of.

  3. Pre-dive safety checks (buddy checks) come next. Can you remember BWRAF (BCD, Weights, Releases, Air and Final okay)? Try using the saying ‘Breakfast With Rice And Fish’ or ‘Big Whales Really Are Fast’ as an easy way to recall the correct order.

  4. Ascents and Descents – You’ll be reminded of the procedures for both the five-point descent and the five-point ascent over deeper water.

  5. Next up is mask clearing and mask removal and replacement. Even the best fitting masks will leak from time to time. It only takes a stray hair underneath the silicone seal, or simply smiling can cause water to enter your mask. For this reason, you’ll review the mask skills that you covered during your PADI Open Water Diver course.

  6. Buoyancy control is essential for diver safety and comfort, so you’ll review your buoyancy skills, including neutral buoyancy, hovering and swimming underwater while maintaining your buoyancy.

  7. The final skill set you’ll cover is Alternate Air Source Ascents. This ensures that you are well prepared should an out-of-air situation occur.

  8. Based on the pre-dive discussions and your PADI’s Pro’s observation of how you complete the skills he or she may have you practice additional skills. Don’t hesitate to use this time to ask for more practice or review if you feel you would benefit from it.

Post-PADI ReActivate Checklist

Once you have completed your PADI ReActivate program, including both the knowledge review and dive skills refresher, you’ll receive an updated certification or recognition card showing your date of ReActivate completion. Now, it’s time to put your newly refreshed skills to good use and go diving!


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