How to Clear a Flooded Mask When Diving

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Those new to diving usually panic when dealing with a mask that’s totally or partially flooded mask. However, with a little practice, you can learn how to clear a flooded mask when you’re diving. Dive masks play an important role when it comes to allowing the diver to dive comfortably, but as a beginner, a flooded mask can be scary and very disorienting. The tips in this article can help you learn how to perform this skill like a pro by following a few steps and ensuring your mask offers the proper fit.

Mask Clearing

Even the best scuba masks can leak from time to time. In fact, clearing a mask will be one of the most common skills you’ll perform when you’re on a dive. Even experienced divers will have to clear their mask once or twice every dive. Of course, quality can have an impact on how frequently you clear a mask. An improper fit can have your mask flooding constantly. But of course, fit isn’t always to blame. Something as small as stray hairs or a strong current can cause the mask to break its seal.

Partially Flooded

If you’re enrolled in an instructional scuba diving course, you’ll practice clearing masks that are partially and completely flooded. However, clearing a partially flooded mask will be more important since it is by far the most common issue you’ll have when you’re underwater.

When water starts to leak into your mask, it’s usually due to a break in the seal between your skin and your mask skirt. When clearing a partially flooded mask make sure that you continue breathing by keeping your regulator in place. Avoid removing your regulator and holding your breath.

Make sure you inhale deeply and fill your lungs with air. Press the top of your mask lens securely to your forehead using the palm of your hand. When you secure the mask at the top, you’re ensuring that the air that you blow out of your nose won’t bubble out the top of the mask. Next, you’ll inhale deeply through your regulator in order to fill your lungs with air. Pressing on the top portion of the mask frame will also provide the seal needed for any expelled air to build up, forcing the water out the lower seal.

When you’re underwater, if you end up breaking a lower seal between your face and the mask, you’ll just end up blowing bubbles out of your nose into the sea. The mask will most likely fill up with water again.

Once the water is completely gone, make sure you press the mask to your face again and ensure it forms a good seal. If the mask you’re using comes with a built-in purge valve, then all you need to do is look down as you exhale through your nose to secure the top seal. This will cause the water inside the mask to exit via the purge valve as your exhaling through the nose.

Completely Flooded

A serious flood isn’t as common as a partial flood. However, it does happen. You can be swimming along, and a current can rip the mask off your face or you can accidentally be hit by a fin from a diving buddy. Whatever the cause, it’s important to remain calm in order to perform the skill just like you did in your scuba diving program.

If the mask didn’t come off all the way, pull it over the top of your head in order to completely remove it. If you’re swimming in a current be sure you hold it firmly. Remain calm, and if practical, stop swimming. If it’s not possible because of a current or another reason, slow down your swimming. Take slow deep breaths, which can prevent any panic you may be experiencing from worsening.

Before you replace the mask take a few deep breaths. You can keep your eyes closed or leave them open. If you’re diving in the ocean, then the saltwater can cause your eyes to sting. Put your mask on and exhale to begin clearing it through your nose as your head is tilted back. This is similar to clearing a mask that’s partially flooded. Next, you’ll secure the top portion of the mask as you exhale through your nose.

Don’t be surprised if it takes a few attempts before the water is completely cleared. Continue to breathe out to your nose and into your mouth until the water is completely cleared. When the water has finally drained out, hold the mask to your face, pressing down to make sure the mask is able to seal properly.

How to Avoid Mask Leaks

You can prevent your diving mask from leaking by ensuring that the mask is  properly centered on your face and the seal is still intact. To check if the mask is secured to your face correctly, take a finger and run it along the seal to make sure no straps or hair are preventing a seal. Adjust the strap appropriately.  If you have a mask that’s too large, then you’ll have trouble achieving an airtight seal.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to clear a flooded diving mask s simple enough, with a little practice. You’ll find that a partially flooded mask is more common, however, fully flooding your mask is also possible. In order to feel prepared when you’re on your next dive, make sure that you dedicate some time to practicing partial and full clears in a swimming pool. Additionally, you should also double-check the seal on your mask right before a dive, to prevent the mask from losing its seal once you descend.