Scuba diving belts or weight belts are used in underwater activities to help divers control their buoyancy. The weighting system in scuba diving is designed to counteract the buoyancy of other equipment that may cause the diver problems in regard to movement control.
Features of Weight Belts
Weight belts are mostly made of lead. Lead sinks in water with its high density, thus, helping the diver to sink underwater. It is also commonly used because of its low cost and corrosive-resistant characteristic. The lead is enclosed in blocks with holes to allow straps to go through so they can be attached to the diver.
Divers are usually very particular with the weighting system and inspect the harnessing very carefully to prevent accidents regarding quick unplanned ascensions. The average weight belts worn by divers range from 2 kgs. or 4 lbs. to 15 kgs. or 33 lbs.
Purposes of Weight Belts
Weight belts are worn by divers to help them control mobility underwater, depending on body structure and weight. Heavier people tend to put on more weights, while lighter people tend to put on fewer weights. The lighter the person, the easier it is to control buoyancy with minimal weight belts. Weights are worn before jumping into the water and are adjusted depending on water conditions, such as water current, diving gear worn, water temperature, and water salinity.
Weights provided to scuba divers have a quick release mechanism that allows the wearer to instantly remove the equipment in case of emergency. In moments of distress, divers may need to resort to immediate ascend to the surface. With the quick release mechanism, divers may escape possible drowning.
By quickly rising above the water, barotrauma and decompression sickness may occur. Barotrauma causes damage to body tissues due to an instant change in body pressure. Decompression sickness (DCS), or the bends, is a condition suffered by people exposed to a decrease in body pressure after a big increase. As a result, the quick release mechanism is only used in situations that are life threatening.