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Dive Locally, Dive Safely

CREDITS | Photo: Stephen Frink

THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC has prompted dive professionals and businesses around the world to enact stronger infection-control measures for the safety of divers, staff and  themselves. As areas lift lockdown orders, divers are eager to return to the water — perhaps staying close to home — and are committed to keeping themselves and their dive buddies safe.

How can you determine if it’s safe to dive, and what should you look for when choosing a dive shop? When diving with a dive operator or renting equipment, ask what infection-control procedures they have implemented. These procedures are largely up to individual dive operators to determine and execute. Also ask about their geardisinfection procedures as well as how they will manage the risk of disease transmission during dive activities. Are boats
at reduced capacity? Are masks required?

If their answers aren’t satisfactory to you, it may be prudent to dive elsewhere. For information about diving and COVID-19, visit DAN.org/COVID-19. Divers may wish to implement the following recommendations as they return to diving. Cover your equipment. Disinfection isn’t necessary between dives, but people sometimes like to mill around on the boat or shore during surface intervals. To prevent someone else from contaminating your equipment, cover any gear that will come in contact with your mouth, nose and eyes. Cover your second stages with a bag or put them into your buoyancy compensator’s pockets, and stow your mask inside its box or your dive bag.

Don’t share germs.
Practicing good hygiene is always important, but pay extra attention when you’re in close
quarters with other people, such as on a dive boat. Follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for stopping the spread of germs: Stay 6 feet away from others when possible; cover your cough or sneeze; don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth; and most important, stay home if you’re sick. If personal protective equipment is required on the boat, bring a container such as an old mask box or a food container to hold your face
covering after you gear up. Keep your hands to yourself. To help reduce the spread of germs, avoid unnecessarily touching items or areas. Consider bringing your own food to lessen the need to touch communal areas or supplies.

Clean your own equipment.
 If you are using your own equipment, you may want to rinse your gear and shower at home to avoid using a communal rinse tank or shower. Divers may be wondering if it is safe to rent equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it is most important to follow local guidelines, if the dive shop has implemented adequate disinfection procedures, there is no reason to believe that using rental gear is unsafe.

The bottom line when diving during the COVID-19 pandemic is to exercise good judgment. If a dive operation is not following local guidelines or their infection-control procedures do not seem adequate — or even if you just don’t feel comfortable — dive somewhere else.

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