Mittwoch, 24. August 2016

Sometimes contact with harmful flora or fauna underwater is either unexpected or unavoidable, and in these cases, it’s important to know how to react

Marine life injuries are incredibly rare, considering how many organisms in the marine environment can cause harm to humans. Usually, divers can prevent marine life injuries by adhering to the general diving rule, “no touching, teasing or taking.” Sometimes, however, contact with harmful flora or fauna underwater is either unexpected or unavoidable, and in these cases, it’s important to know how to react. Being able to deliver effective first aid not only provides pain relief, but can also — in serious cases —vastly improve a victim’s chances of survival. Here we’ll take a look at four potential marine life injuries and the first-aid procedures required to treat each one.

Jellyfish Stings
Of the myriad jellyfish species in our oceans, some are stingless and some can be fatal. When stung by a jellyfish, the seriousness of the situation depends on several factors, including the species, the anatomical location of the sting, the size of the area affected and whether or not the victim is allergic to the animal’s toxins. Many jellyfish stings do not require professional medical attention, but if the victim experiences severe symptoms, including chest pains and difficulty breathing, emergency medical services must be contacted immediately. Similarly, if the species is a potentially lethal one (like Australia’s infamous box jellyfish), professional medical care is imperative; and if the victim is particularly old or young, or the sting covers a large area, calling emergency services is also advisable. In general, however, first aid for all jellyfish stings follows the same guidelines. The victim should be treated out of the water, and kept as still as possible to prevent more toxins from being released and spreading around the body.

If there are any visible tentacles on the victim’s body, these should be removed using tweezers, forceps, or gloves to avoid further stings. After the tentacles have been removed, the best way to clear any remaining stinging cells, or nematocysts, is to apply shaving cream, and use a razor or credit card to carefully scrape them from the skin. If you do not have these tools on hand, use salt water to flush the affected area — never fresh water, as the latter may cause unfired nematocysts to release their poison. Contrary to popular urban myth, urine should also be avoided for the same reason, as should alcohol. Some sources (including DAN) recommend using household vinegar for sting relief while others, such as the British National Health Service, advise not to for fear that the vinegar may also trigger remaining nematocysts. Instead, it is recommended to either apply an ice pack to the affected area or to soak it in hot water to afford the victim pain relief after all tentacles and stinging cells have been removed.

Lionfish, Scorpionfish and Stonefish Injuries
All three of these fish species are highly venomous, and have spines on their dorsal, anal and pectoral fins capable of injecting venom into a diver’s skin. Typically, injuries from any one of these fish require emergency care; in the case of the stonefish, professional medical attention is compulsory. Of the three, the stonefish’s venom is the most potent and can be fatal — victims will require anti-venom injections as part of their treatment. First-aid care is the same for both lionfish and scorpionfish injuries. Once the diver is safely out of the water and in a stable environment, use tweezers to gently remove any spine fragments embedded in the wound. Then, soak the wound in hot water — as hot as the victim can tolerate without burning the skin. These species’ venom is protein-based, and begins to breakdown and deactivate with the application of heat, so soaking in hot water will not only relieve pain but also reduce the effects of the venom itself.

If possible, immerse the affected area for at least 30 minutes. If the wound is located somewhere that makes immersion difficult, use hot washcloths to the same effect. Hot-water treatment may also help in the case of stonefish injuries, and is advisable while waiting for medical care to arrive. After soaking, disinfect the wound, apply antiseptic ointment and take over-the-counter pain medication to help alleviate pain. Divers should seek immediate medical attention after exposure to the venom of any of these species, as some complications may take time to manifest. These can be serious, and include anaphylactic shock as a result of an allergic reaction, shock, infection, tissue death and paralysis. These wounds can take weeks, or even months, to heal.

Coral Cuts and Abrasions
These are perhaps the most common diver injuries, and can occur whenever contact is made with the reef. Coral is often sharp, and those who sustain coral cuts or grazes will find that they take an inordinately long time to heal and often become infected. This happens because the coral is coated with a thin film of living organisms, which tear away from the main structure on contact and contaminate the victim’s wounds. To treat coral cuts and abrasions, first stem any significant blood flow using direct pressure. Once the bleeding has stopped, make sure to remove any remaining coral fragments by flushing with clean fresh water. Use antibacterial soap or hydrogen peroxide mixed with water to disinfect the wound, and then rinse again with fresh water. After the wound is clean, apply antibiotic cream and cover with a sterile, non-adhesive dressing. The affected area should be cleaned and re-dressed twice a day until the wound has healed. Although emergency medical care is not usually required for coral injuries, the victim should be closely monitored for signs of shock or aggravated infection. Extreme redness, swelling, excess pus, swollen lymph glands or any other signs of fever or infection should be treated immediately.

Marine Life Injuries from Large Animal Bites
When it comes to marine life injuries, most people automatically imagine shark attacks. Truthfully, the likelihood of receiving a shark bite is infinitesimally small, but there are several marine species that can inflict a nasty bite, including moray eels, barracuda and seals. Usually these species will only react aggressively in self-defense, or if they mistake a diver for prey. The severity of such injuries can range from the superficial to the fatal. In the case of more serious bites, first remove the victim from the water. Contact emergency services immediately, and then focus on providing basic life support until the professionals can take over. Apply pressure to the wound to stem blood flow, remembering to wear protective barriers if at all possible. Do not release pressure to change bandages or cloths even if they become saturated; instead, simply apply more bandages directly on top of the original ones. If the bleeding is excessive and cannot be stemmed, a tourniquet may be required and should be applied as close to the injury as possible between the wound and the heart. If not used properly, however, a tourniquet can cause other complications, so one should only be used if absolutely necessary or by someone with prior medical training.

If the bite is located on an extremity, raise it above heart level to help reduce blood flow. If a bone was broken or fractured as a result of the bite, use a splint to support and protect the injured limb. If you don’t have a purpose-made splint on hand, you should be able to improvise one quite easily. Often, the shock and trauma of a severe bite can cause a victim to have difficulty breathing; in this case, administer oxygen and monitor continued respiration until emergency services arrive. In the event of minor bites, emergency services may not be required. Simply use direct pressure until the bleeding stops, and then rinse gently with fresh water, clean with antiseptic and apply a non-adhesive, sterile dressing. Should any infection occur, or other symptoms arise, make sure to seek medical advice immediately.

by Jessica Mcdonald


Freitag, 1. Juli 2016

Tank Valve Etiquette

by Jesse Iacono:

As with many outdated habits in the scuba industry, there are a couple surrounding tank valves that simply refuse to die.  This article serves to identify the two most heinous and commonly occurring of the valve violations.  Changing these habits now could save your reputation and even your life.  Take heed of the following advice to avoid becoming branded as a valve violator!

Blasting Caps

Our first valve violator is certainly one who commands the attention of everyone at the dive site.  This individual can be found using blasts of gas from their tank to clear excess water off of their dust cap.  Although the results of this violation don’t present much of a direct threat to safety, their effects on surrounding divers are often unconsidered.

This method of drying dust caps is no more effective than blowing on them and/or using a towel to accomplish the same task.  This method is, however, exponentially louder and completely unnecessary.  The sound created can be startling and harmful to the ears of anyone in close proximity as well as a major distraction to the nearby dive professionals, boat crew, and captain.  Remember, these are the individuals whose focus on their task has an impact on the safety of those around them.  As a dive professional, the sudden sound of gas exiting a tank is interpreted as a red flag that something is wrong and needs to be dealt with immediately.  By creating this false alarm, one can expect the focus of the surrounding dive professionals to immediately be drawn to them as a second-nature response.  Also, when using a yoke valve, as the gas from the tank is reflected off of the cap and directed back towards the valve face, it can easily dislodge the o-ring, rendering the tank useless until the o-ring is found and replaced or a new one is purchased.  The costs associated, although not very significant, can add up over time and are easily avoided.

This habit seems to rampantly spread between divers, sometimes even those who were trained to do the opposite.  Eliminating this one from your repertoire can spread awareness and contribute to the violation’s overall demise.

The Quarter Turner

Our second violator is one who finds discomfort in certainty.  This individual can be found opening their valve all the way and bringing it back a quarter turn.  Such adherence to an antiquated practice could prove to be dangerous and even fatal.

This violation stems from a time when valves could get stuck in the open position if turned all the way open and not backed off by a quarter turn.  One can move confidently forward knowing that this situation will not occur when using any of the valves manufactured within the past five decades.  For some reason, even though the problem has long been solved, the habit sticks and is still transmitted from some instructors to their students.

When it comes to tank valves, there are only two options – the valve is open or the valve is closed, nothing in between.  When a valve is 100% open, the individual can breathe from their regulator while looking at their SPG and see no movement from the needle that indicates the contained pressure.  When a valve is 100% closed, the individual can breathe from their regulator while looking at their SPG and see that it either reads zero or, if previously pressurized, the needle will move towards zero with each breath.  During one’s final check, performed immediately before entering the water, this offers no confusion as to whether one will have gas to breathe once in the water.

The danger in the quarter turn violation is due to misinterpretation and inability to distinguish a valve that is a quarter turn opened vs. a quarter turn closed.  A valve that is turned on 100% and then a quarter turn off and a valve that is turned off 100% and then a quarter turn on will provide the same results when breathing from one’s regulator and monitoring the SPG at the surface – it will seem as though the valve is sufficiently opened and ready for the impending dive.  If one were to enter the water with a valve only a quarter turn open, they would quickly encounter a situation involving a lack of sufficient breathing gas, the results of which would prove to be both undesirable and dangerous.

Although making sure one’s valve is open seems simple enough, a single task can easily be overlooked when combined with the many that are required in preparation for a dive.  Add to this the commotion and excitement typically present at a dive site or on a dive boat and it can be easy to make mistakes.  Sometimes it isn’t even oneself that is the violator, but a well-meaning individual attempting to lend a hand.  By adhering to the correct valve procedures and making sure to always perform a final check before entering the water, one can begin their dive without question.

In every area of diving, make sure to think smart and safe.  Trust the information that dive professionals are presenting, but don’t ever be afraid to ask questions about why certain processes are observed.  If something seems counterintuitive, sometimes it just may be…


10 Training Tips

by Jesse Iacono:

Hello, and welcome to the world of diving!  Regardless of how new you are to the sport, I’m sure there are some questions that are still running through your mind.  Your open water course just can’t cover everything there is to know and I’m here to provide a few answers.  I have seen numerous “10 tips for the new diver” articles on the web and can’t help but notice that they all are very useful, but incredibly similar.

Here are my 10 not so typical tips for the recently certified.  They have been developed through my experiences as an instructor in the field, numerous conversations with other instructors, and, most importantly, the polling of divers at many levels as to which topics were the most elusive to them.

1.Purchases – Buy a computer first.
Once you are certified, you will want to start considering which gear to own.  I would highly recommend looking to a personal dive computer as your first investment.  Dive computers have become extremely affordable and are your best friend in dive safety!  Additionally, with their small size, they are a breeze to travel with and having your own guarantees that you will be diving with a unit that you understand how to use.  Also, in many locations, an array of dive gear will be available for rental, but unfortunately computers often don’t make the list.

2.Skills – Show your compass some love.
Compass navigation is an integral skill for divers of every level.  Unfortunately, this skill is often only briefly touched on in many open water courses.  Don’t wait until your navigation specialty course to become familiar with your compass!  Take a compass with you on every dive and pay attention to which directions you are going and which directions landmarks are in.  They can seem like an intimidating piece of equipment at first, but don’t overthink it; use basic directional headings to gain your bearings and ensure you are swimming in the right direction.  Try carrying it around with you on land too for some extra practice.

3.Mindset – The best dive is the one you come home from.
This phrase has always resonated with me.  It may sound pretty dire at first listen, but it is a blaring truth for all levels of diving.  Let’s look at the reality of things; we are entering an environment in which we are not naturally adapted to in any way.  Without our equipment, we cannot effectively see, move, or breathe!  The phrase is not here to scare you, but to remind you to respect the foreign environment you are entering, keep up with your training and gear, and never fall victim to the “justs” – It’s not JUST a 20 foot dive, it’s not JUST a small equipment malfunction, it’s not JUST this once.  Falling into these habits on the smaller dives increases the likelihood of being okay with poor practices on the bigger dives.  At the end of the day, no dive is worth losing your life over.  We’re all in it for the enjoyment of this wonderful sport, so let’s keep it happy and healthy.

4.Continuing Education – Log your damn dives!
This is one of my personal pet peeves and a habit that needs to be formed from the beginning.  If you have not logged all of your dives at this point in time, then go get your logbook right now and make it current; you are not allowed to continue reading until it is done!

Updated?  Perfect, let’s continue!  Keeping an accurate and up-to-date logbook posts many benefits for the diver, especially in the earlier stages of diving. One of the most important benefits is proving experience.  Many of the courses that you will participate in will require a certain amount of experience to be shown before starting the course.  Without your logbook as verification, you are as good as freshly certified.  So please, for heaven’s sake, LOG YOUR DIVES!

5.Community – Get involved and pay attention to other divers.
As nasty as we can seem to each other online sometimes, most divers are pretty friendly people when they aren’t behind the keyboard!  Diving is very much community based and, once you are in, it really is an awesome community to be a part of!  Divers are usually very passionate about what they do (which is where some occasional tension can come from), but in every diver’s heart lies the desire to see the sport grow and witness the spark of scuba in a new diver turn into an unstoppable wildfire.  One of the best ways to enhance your diving experience is to join your local gatherings of divers and absorb everything you can from them.  Becoming a great diver is all about experience and unfortunately you lack that right now.  Take full advantage of what the community is willing to pass on and you will certainly thrive while making some great friends along the way.

6.Preparedness – Always check your gear.
Create a checklist, don’t wait until the last minute, do it yourself, check it at home, and check it again before the dive.  I have witnessed countless missed dives, close calls, and issues underwater by students and professionals alike resulting from ill-preparedness.  Unfortunately, it took a scare to make many of these individuals realize the importance of being thorough with their equipment.  When we place so much reliance on our equipment, it is paramount that it is functioning properly and that all of it makes it to the dive site!

7.Moving Forward – You don’t have to be perfect, but be mindful.
You are a new diver, everyone knows it, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Nobody is going to expect you to be a pro right off the bat.  Experience must be built, questions asked, and mistakes made.  Never fear judgment for taking some extra time or needing clarification on a topic.  The important thing to remember is to be mindful of your skill level and never lose the desire to improve!  Continuing education and keeping an honest eye on your own performance will lead you to success!

8.Reality – Your buoyancy sucks.
It just does.  Don’t take it personal, so did mine.  In fact, I didn’t even start to really understand what neutral buoyancy was until I had close to 50 dives under my belt.  Even if you are starting to get it much sooner than I was (which you probably are), don’t ever forget that great buoyancy is a habit, not a skill.  It requires constant monitoring and practice and is NEVER absolutely perfect.  Remember, neutral buoyancy is about more than looking like a total boss in the water; it poses many benefits to the diver and the environment.  It doesn’t have to be all business either; have some fun with it!  Grab a buddy and play some skill building games or get in front of a camera to pinpoint which areas need improvement. Whatever method you choose, keep up with it – it is worth the work!

9.Lifestyle – Pump the breaks, assuming that you remember how to use them.
Diving is a culmination of skills that should be mastered and maintained, not a checklist to be blown through.  As a new diver, you probably want to take every course available and move up to the advanced levels as soon as possible.  I whole-heartedly encourage you to do so, but keep in mind that each course you take relies on the understanding of any prerequisite courses.  Take the time to give more practice to what you have already learned before advancing.  Having a thorough understanding of the basics ensures comfort in the water and that they are second nature when you start becoming task loaded or run into a sticky situation.

10.Computers –Understand your NDL.
The no decompression limit is one of the most important functions of your dive computer.  It is the number that counts down throughout your dive and that you don’t want to hit zero! Exceeding your NDL will enter you into decompression diving – something that is much past your current level of training and can potentially put you at a significant risk.  If you are uncertain of how and why it works, please seek further info or consult with an instructor before your next dive.