Setting up a scuba tank can be a bit intimidating for the beginning diver, but this process will eventually become second nature. Of course, even experienced divers take this process very seriously since the scuba tank is your lifeline when you're under the water. Learning the proper way to set up your gear is a critical step in enjoying your time under the water.
Verify that the tank you are about to set up is safe and ready to use. Look for the hydrostatic test verification, which should be engraved on the top of the tank next to the serial number. This date should be within five years. Also locate the visual inspection sticker, which is usually placed somewhere on the top of the tank. This sticker should indicate that the tank has been inspected within the past year. If you cannot find either of these verifications, or one of them is out of date, find another tank to take diving.
Stand your scuba tank upright with the valve sticking out on the right side.
Remove the valve cap and make sure the valves are free of any debris. You can do this by releasing the valve just a bit to let some air flow through and by making a visual inspection of the connecting points of the valve.
Connect the tank straps of your buoyancy control device, or BCD, securely.
Slip your BCD over the scuba tank, aligning the top of the vest with the upper rim of the scuba tank.
Secure the buckle clamp of your BCD around the tank. This should be a snug fit, so expect to use a little muscle, but don't force the clamp. If the straps are too tight to secure the clamp, remove the BCD from the tank, adjust the straps, and then repeat the steps above until you can firmly secure the clamp around the tank.
Pick up your regulator or octopus with your regulator mouthpieces in your right hand and the gauges in your left hand.
Mate the valves on your regulator octopus with the valves on the tank and tighten the connectors.
Run the low pressure hose through the loop on your BCD and connect the nozzle to the BCD inflater.
Test your regulators before turning on the tank by placing the regulator in your mouth and inhaling. You should meet resistance as the membrane moves forward.
Turn the face of your gauges away from you before turning on the air. A flaw in the glass on the face of the gauge box can cause it to shatter when the pressure of the air is turned on. Though this is relatively rare, it's still best to be vigilant about this step to avoid any injury if this happens.
Open up the valve on the scuba tank all the way, and then close it back about a quarter of a turn.
Verify that the tank is full by checking your gauge.
Breathe through both regulators to make sure they are working properly now that the air is on.
Purge both regulators after testing.
Inflate and deflate the BCD to verify that the hoses are working and attached properly.
Pull all the hoses to the front and lay the tank down backward for safe transport if you need to travel to your dive location with your gear already set up.
- Padi Open Water Diver Manual; Drew Richardson