Ask any lifeboat coxswain what the biggest issue is when rescuing divers and they'll inevitably say something like: 'We can't bl**dy find them!'

It's one of the most frustrating parts of their lifesaving role, to be out at sea knowing that someone's life is in danger and not being to find them. Sometimes it can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

In Paul Gibson's case, he was particularly well prepared for this eventuality. By activating his personal locator beacon, the lifeboat crews had confidence that they were searching in the right area and he was found quickly. Having a personal locator beacon (PLB) is one of the top safety tips for divers.

Sea survival for divers - a step-by-step guide

In the unlikely event that you find yourself lost on the surface, follow these steps to help save your life and make a lifeboat coxswain's job much easier.

Step 1: Keep calm

On the surface, inflate your buoyancy control device (BCD) and/or drysuit. Stay close to your buddy and look for your boat or an exit to shore.

Photo: RNLI/Andy Perryman

Step 2: Release weights

Release your weights, except one. 

TOP TIP: Use the remaining weight and attach it to the bottom of the surface marker buoy (SMB) to keep it upright.

Photo: RNLI/Andy Perryman

Step 3: Raise the alarm

Activate your personal locator beacon (PLB) if you have one and make sure the antenna is pointing upwards.

Photo: RNLI/Andy Perryman

Step 4: Keep warm

Crouch up as much as you can. If you're with your buddy, link yourselves together. In a group, get in a circle with the surface marker buoy in the middle. Stay together.

Photo: RNLI/Andy Perryman

Step 5: Breathe

In rough seas, keep your mask on and try to keep your back to the waves. If there's any gas left in your dive tank you can still use your regulator on the surface. If there's no gas, use your snorkel.

Photo: RNLI/Andy Perryman

Step 6: Wave and whistle

Attract attention if you spot somebody. Wave your surface marker buoy, use your whistle - anything to help them find you.

Photo: RNLI/Andy Perryman

Go one step further

Take our new diver sea survival training

Divers are one of the most safety-conscious groups of sea goers. But not everyone's well prepared for UK and Irish waters. From this winter you can take the RNLI Diver Sea Survival course as an introduction to diving in the UK or as an update to your sea survival skills.

The training, developed by the RNLI with BDSG (British Diving Safety Group), will be available through PADI and BSAC or many of the other lead training agencies.

Find out more about the RNLI Diver Sea Survival course.