All divers and snorkelers have been there: water floods your mask, and you’re not going to pay attention to anything else until it’s clear. It can be pretty worrisome the first time it happens, but luckily it’s an easy fix to clear a flooded mask, and with a little practice you won’t even sweat it the next time water leaks in. Mask clearing is a skill that is best to practice in the controlled environment of a pool, so you can really master the technique before you make the move to open water.
Begin standing in chest deep water, holding your mask in your hand. Close your eyes, and dunk yourself under water. See, this is something we’ve all done since we were kids, and the reality is that a flooded mask is no different: it’s just water in your face. Your instincts to keep your eyes and nose shut are already there, so just relax and trust them!
The snorkel masks are considered the best friends of scuba divers and are so reliable that swimmers entrust their lives to these lifeless things and they prove their worth by providing their users some of the best experiences of their life in snorkeling as there can be no better thrill for snorkeling experts than to take a deep plunge into the depths of the sea and exhibit a euphoric outburst that comes but once in a blue moon and imprints an everlasting memory into the mind that lasts for a lifetime. People who are interested in it frantically look up the internet for New Snorkel Mask Sea View every time a new one comes up.
The next step is to work on clearing your mask if some water enters. Make sure your mask is properly fitted to your face, and remember that the strap generally doesn’t need to be very tight, just snug enough to keep the mask in place. The skirt of the mask should be able to seal against your face without being clamped down by the strap.
Standing in the shallow end of the pool, put on your mask, and crouch down in the water. Now close your eyes, grasp the edges of your mask, and pull it slightly away from your face so it floods. Then let it seal against your face again, and stand up so you’re no longer under water, but you still have a mask full of water on your face. If you’re uncomfortable and need to pull it off, that’s OK – you can keep trying until you get it. Repeat this until you can calmly stand there out of the water with your flooded mask on. You can still breathe through your mouth, just as if you had a scuba regulator in place, so you don’t need to feel any time pressure to clear the mask.
Now, simply use your fingers or the heel of your hand to apply a little pressure to the top edge of the mask frame, and exhale gently but steadily through your nose. You don’t have to blast the breath as if you’re clearing a snorkel – just a gentle breath out will do. Gravity will work its magic, and the water will flow downward out of the mask as the mask fills with air. This same principle will work just as well when you’re under water as it does standing there. Practice this a few times to really get the hang of it.
Now it’s time to try it in the water, but let’s start small. Don your mask and crouch down so you are underwater but still upright (looking straight ahead, not bent over looking at the pool floor). Pull the mask very slightly away from your face so you get a small trickle of water coming in. Let it fill about halfway, before it reaches your eyes, then let it reseal. Relax for a moment to think through the next step, then simply apply pressure to the top edge of the mask and exhale through your nose. Once again, the water will drop out through the bottom, and keeping the top edge in place with your hand will prevent any more water from flowing in.
Once you are completely comfortable dealing with the sensation of water in your mask and the technique of clearing it, it’s time for the final exam. Put your mask on and crouch down so you’re underwater, then remove your mask altogether. Take a moment to relax, then pull your mask back on, apply pressure to the top edge, and gently exhale until it’s clear. Repeat this several times to really get comfortable with the motion and the feeling of doing it, and then do it some more – practice makes perfect! You need to master the skill of mask clearing so it becomes second nature, which will help you avoid any mishaps or feelings of panic if your mask floods on a real dive.
Now simply getting a little water in your mask won’t even faze you, and even if your mask gets knocked off underwater, you’ll be able to calmly get it back on and clear it. When you’re diving or snorkeling, one of the best parts of the experience is getting to see your surroundings. These simple steps will help you make sure you don’t miss any of the action with a mask full of water.