What are scuba diving hand signals?

Diving is a very fun activity, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t know the proper hand signals. Learning scuba diving hand signals will help you and your diving partner communicate underwater. So, What are scuba diving hand signals?

OK: The common scuba hand signal

The OK signal is a hand signal used to communicate that everything is fine. It’s also used to communicate that you’re okay, or “I’m good.”

In scuba diving, the OK signal is used in tandem with another diver to let the other person know that you are okay. The two divers will make their way through the water, signaling to each other that they’re alright and they don’t need help. This prevents any accidents from happening while exploring underwater environments such as caves and wrecks.

Are you OK?

“Are you OK?” hand signal. This is a simple but universal gesture that should be used when you are concerned about another diver’s safety. The sign language for “OK” is exactly what it sounds like: the thumb, pinkie and middle fingers of one hand form a C-shape while the index finger and ring finger are held straight. The other hand, with palm facing outward, forms an L shape with its fingers pointed downward. Now, simply hold up both hands as if in prayer to indicate that everything is fine—and keep diving!

I am not OK

The I’m not OK signal is used when you want to let your dive buddy know that something is wrong, or you need help. This signal can be used in any situation where the diver needs assistance.

  • Help me: The diver extends both arms above their head with palms facing down and fingers spread wide apart.
  • Emergency ascent: The diver extends both arms straight out (palms facing up) while making circular movements with them (like they are trying to exhale without the surface).
  • Emergency descent: The diver extends their right arm above their head then bends it at the elbow pointing towards themselves with palm facing down, then repeats this motion on the other side of their body for an even more urgent ascent/descent signal than just waving one arm.

The I am OK hand signal is a way for scuba divers to communicate that everything’s fine underwater during a dive or as they exit from a recreational vehicle such as a boat or jet ski

Need help

  • Signal for help. If you are in trouble underwater, signal to the surface with a flashlight or mirror.
  • Use a strobe light to signal an emergency. Dive shops offer these lights as part of their rental gear; they are also available at most dive stores and online retailers.
  • Whistle loudly if you need help from another diver or boat crew member on the surface. Be sure that your whistle doesn’t interfere with someone else’s safety signal or cause them confusion about what is happening underwater—it may be difficult for scuba divers under water to hear whistles over 50 feet below them!


The Ascend scuba diving hand signal is used to communicate the desire for a diver to ascend from the water. This can be done by raising their arm above their head and pointing it up. It is often performed in conjunction with a buddy check.


The descend hand signal is used to indicate that you want to go down. It’s the opposite of the ascend hand signal, which indicates you want to go up. The descend hand signal is used by scuba divers in order to communicate with each other underwater.


In a relaxed tone:

The stop signal is used to stop the dive immediately.

  • Stop diving.
  • Surface. This is normally done when there is an emergency, such as a diver getting separated or lost underwater, or when there is a problem with equipment or air supply. It may also mean that the dive site has been reached and it’s time to return to shore.

Turn left

Turning to your left is an important skill to learn. When you use this signal, you’re giving direction to a dive buddy who needs help. You can also use it if you need to ask for help from another diver.

Turn right

If you want to go in a clockwise direction, you can signal this by holding your hand up with the palm facing down and your fingers pointing towards your body. You should raise the right hand to about shoulder height.

Get my attention

The first hand signal you’ll need to know is for “Get my attention.” This signal is made by placing your open palm, facing up, at eye level and pointing towards the person who needs to be addressed. A more specific version of this signal is to close your fingers into a loose fist and place it under your chin—the classic “raise-the-hand” gesture.

Hand signals are also used for signifying whether or not there’s something dangerous nearby:

Hand signals for scuba divers to communicate

Hand signals are a great way to communicate underwater in emergencies, but they can also be used for everyday communication.

Hand signals are used for teaching and fun.

Conclusion: What are scuba diving hand signals?

It’s important to know scuba diving hand signals so that you can communicate with your dive buddies. With these simple signs, you won’t have any trouble talking underwater!

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