Instead of feeding into the media frenzy amidst the current world wide outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, let’s have a look at how to best protect yourself if you are scuba diving.
While we can’t recommend how you should react to this outbreak, we can inform you of what we are doing to manage the situation.
Diving is a buddy sport, which involves checking each other’s gear and there is undoubtedly going to be some inter-human contact. We can’t skip safety checks or cut skills out of diver training because of COVID-19, but we can prevent the spreading of the virus by taking proper precautions.
Preventing COVID-19 Infections when Scuba Diving
The highest risk of infection is through mask, snorkel, regulator mouthpieces and the oral inflator mouthpiece on the BCD. Especially because these pieces of gear touch a diver’s mouth and nose. Unless you have all of your own gear, rental equipment is shared among divers. Divers always ensure safety by checking each other’s gear prior to any dive. This has the potential to further increase the risk of infection.
So how do we prevent infection?
In short, by minimising contact and properly sanitising equipment after each use. At Sairee Cottage Diving, we properly clean all our diving gear according to the current recommendations by the World Health Organisation and Divers Alert Network (DAN). We also teach all our student divers how to properly clean all parts of their diving equipment.
One of the most effective agents to sanitise from COVID-19 is Dettol. We have always used a Dettol solution to clean our dive equipment.
Since the outbreak we take additional precautions, such as:
- Using a higher concentration of Dettol in our cleaning tanks
- Changing the cleaning tank more regularly
- We encourage divers to do self-checks with their buddy, rather than switching mouthpieces during a regular buddy check
To do a self-check, you show your buddy that you can orally inflate your own BCD (the more hygienic way even pre-virus). Instead of touching all their releases and weights to “check” them, show and explain them to your buddy. When it comes to checking the alternate second stage, simply breathe from your primary and purge the alternate simultaneously while checking the SPG needle with your buddy. While this does not check whether breathing from the alternate is normal, that can be done in the safety check during equipment setup. After that we recommend cleaning the alternate mouthpiece with a the Dettol solution.
During the Open Water course for example, air sharing is a required skill. After the safety check, sanitising the alternate mouthpiece and a self-check in front of your buddy, the air sharing skill can be performed with absolute minimal risk of infection. Bear in mind that we do all these skills underwater as well.
Of course we all love a good high five and some elaborate fist bumps during our courses. We’ve replaced them with “air bumps” and “air high fives”.
Further precautions you can take yourself:
- Invest in your own mask and snorkel (it goes without saying that having your own is more comfortable and hygienic)
- Bring your own mouthpiece, we are happy to change it for you
How to clean your equipment properly
- Swirl the mouthpiece in the Dettol solution
- Firmly rub the contact parts with clean hands
- Rinse in fresh water
- Repeat after each use
Some final words…
The COVID-19 virus is no joke. Viruses have always been around and will always be around. With the motto “Adapt & Survive” we will get through this together. Depending on your situation it might actually be a good idea to do some diving. No virus underwater after all. So if you are “stuck” in Thailand, why not quarantine on a tropical island with some fish therapy?
All of us at Sairee Cottage Diving hope that this situation will improve soon. We hope everyone out there has a good quarantine buddy!