Safety blog

  • August 03, 2018 1:54 PM | Tom Stenger

    Improving Your Dive Performance and Comfort Isn’t a Massive Stretch

    By Kristen Fassolas posted on SDI/TDI/ERDI Blog site 

    Stretching isn’t just for those who don tight leggings and own a yoga mat. Good flexibility can help improve your scuba diving experience and performance.

    • Do you sometimes struggle to put on your wetsuit or your BC or harness?
    • Do you find it hard to reach down to put on your fins?
    • Is it difficult to bend down with your gear on to reach for something you have dropped?
    • Are entries and exits into or out of the boat or water difficult?
    • Would you like to be able to reach your own tank valve if required?
    • Is just turning around to look at your buddy difficult?
    • Do you suffer from lower back pain?

    If the answer to any of these is yes, you should work on improving your flexibility. Having a healthy range of motion can help with all of the above. This even includes lower back pain. It can also improve your daily life and help to prevent injuries. Taking the time to stretch even helps clear the mind.

    Stretching is most effective when your muscles are warmed up. Before you stretch, complete your usual exercise routine. If you simply want to have a stretching session, do a light warm up first. This can consist of a few minutes of gentle jogging on the spot, some arm circles and some hip circles. This will get the blood flowing.

    To ensure progress, aim to complete the following stretches every day or at least every other day. If done frequently, they will also help to avoid cramps from tight muscles and ease tension in your body.

    Once in position, hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. No stretch should be painful. If it is, adjust the intensity when you need to. Never pull or push through pain. Inhale and exhale deeply while holding the stretch, relaxing further with each exhale. Perform each stretch twice.

    Chest and shoulder stretch 

    Stand in the middle of a doorway with one foot in front of the other. Bend your elbows in a 90-degree angle. Place your forearms on each side of the doorway. Shift your weight onto your front leg, leaning forward, until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulder muscles.

    Triceps stretch 

    Raise one arm up into the air. Then place the palm of your hand on your neck or back as low as possible. While doing so, keep your elbow pointing towards the ceiling. Use your other arm to gently pull your elbow back to increase the stretch. Repeat with the other arm.

    Glute (buttock) stretch 

    Lie on your back and bring your knees up to your chest. Cross your right leg over your left thigh. Grasp the back of your left thigh with both hands. Pull your left leg toward your chest. Repeat with your opposite leg.

    Quad (front thigh) stretch 

    Lie on your right side. Grab the top of your left foot and gently pull your heel towards your left buttock. Keep your knees touching. This will stretch the front of your thigh. Repeat on the other side.

    Hamstring (back of thigh) stretch

    Lie on your back and raise your right leg. Keep your left leg bent with your foot on the floor. Pull your right leg towards you, holding your thigh or calf and keeping the leg straight. Repeat with your opposite leg.

    Calf stretch 

    Put your right leg forward, keeping it bent, and lean forwards slightly. Keep your left leg straight and try to lower your left heel to the ground. Repeat with your opposite leg.

    Make stretching a new habit. Remember, good flexibility translates into a greater freedom of movement. It helps prevent injury and improves your performance and comfort both above and below the surface. 

  • July 09, 2018 11:03 PM | Tom Stenger
    Divers training had a good article a few years ago on Nitrox issues and since most of us dive Nitrox, it is important to know some risks. 


    The article is quite long, so I cut to the key sections. Here is the link for the full version. 

    https://dtmag.com/25th-anniversary-vintage-articles/breathe-not-breathe-exploring-nitrox-controversy/

    To Breathe or Not to Breathe: Exploring the nitrox controversy

    By Alex Brylske

    The issue of recreational nitrox diving has been at the forefront of the diving community for the past several months. There are no shortages of opinions about the topic but there seems to be very little objective information about the subject. This article is a milestone in that it addresses both the pros and cons of the activity in an objective and straightforward manner.

    When we originally planned a nitrox article for Dive Training, we envisioned it as a two-part series, much like the trilogy published about the dive tables. However, we felt a two-part series increased the chances of confusion, and opted for a single, comprehensive report. We hope you will enjoy the results.

    –Ed.

    Recently an increasing number of recreational divers have begun purposely altering the air they breathe. Instead of using special gas mixtures to attain certain advantages while diving. These exotic mixtures go by such names as heliox, trimix, and nitrox. By far, the most common alternate breathing mixture is nitrox.

    Some of you maybe already know about nitrox diving. Others perhaps have heard about it, but know very little. Even if you’ve never heard of nitrox diving, you certainly soon will. Industry estimates are that from 1985 to 1991, recreational divers engaged in 30,000-50,000 nitrox dives. And the numbers are growing. As altering the diver’s breathing mixture involves serious practical and legal questions, nitrox diving is becoming a hotly debated topic. In this article we’ll examine the issues involved I this new and controversial form of recreational diving. Hopefully, we can put the subject into perspective.

    WHY USE EAN?

    Why, you might ask, would divers want to alter the air they breathe? After all, humans have been breathing what Mother Nature has seen fit to provide us with for millions of years. Theoretically, the answer is simple. For land-based animals who breathe at normal atmospheric pressure, good ol’ regular air does the job of sustaining life quite well. But, when we venture either to altitude or underwater, there are certain disadvantages to regular air. At altitude we’re all aware that the reduced atmospheric pressure robs us of precious oxygen. This is why pilots must breathe oxygen when flying at high altitudes and why the cabins of jet aircraft are pressurized.

    When we venture underwater, air continues to have certain limitations. But these limitations have less to do with the oxygen component of air than the nitrogen. It all centers around a topic we have explored extensively in past issues of Dive Training –decompression. The length of time a diver may remain at depth, or the amount of decompression he must undergo if exceeding the no-decompression limits, depends upon the amount of nitrogen absorbed. If a diver breathes air, he breathes a gas mixture containing 79 percent nitrogen. In an EAN mixture, oxygen is used to replace some of the nitrogen. So, instead of breathing a mixture containing 79 percent nitrogen, an enriched air mixture might contain only 68 percent to 64 percent nitrogen. Therefore, as the diver is breathing a gas containing less nitrogen, he absorbs less nitrogen in his body. This means both an extension of the decompression limits and –if required—reduced decompression time. Reduced decompression time is the primary—though not the only—benefit of using EAN.

    THE ADVANTAGES OF USING EAN

    As in most human endeavors, there is an up side and a down side to the EAN issue. Let’s examine the advantages before looking at the problems. As stated previously, the greatest advantage of using EAN is the extension of no-decompression limits for three of the most popular air dive tables, along with the limits for NOAA Nitrox I and II. As you’ll see, EAN can often more than double the no-decompression limits of the air tables.

    Additionally, using EAN can shorten the required surface interval between repetitive dives. Or the diver can make a longer repetitive dive with the same surface interval as a comparable air dive. Either option is possible, again because the diver absorbs less nitrogen than on a comparable air dive.

    While the extension of no-decompression time can be a real benefit, it is not—in the opinion of this writer—the primary advantage of using EAN. The real advantage of enriched air is that it can provide recreational divers with an additional safety margin when used with regular air dive tables or computers. Air tables and computers assume the diver will breath air containing 79 percent or 64 percent nitrogen. This means the diver actually absorbs far less nitrogen than the air tables or computer calculates. Thus, the diver’s actual nitrogen absorption will be far below what the tables or computer shows.

    Using EAN in this way can be an ideal method of automatically building In the conservatism so many authorities advise when using tables and computers. It might also be a way of overcoming the risks from such unquantifiable factors such as age, obesity, cold, fatigue, and dehydration. In addition, susing EAN with air tables could help decrease the decompression sickness (DCS) rish among dive professionals—instructors and divemasters—who dive continually as part of their duties. Some diver resorts, who maintain EAN filling stations, have already implemented the policy of having their dive guides use EAN for an added measure of safety.

    While using EAN with air decompression schedules offers great promise, it’s not a panacea for DCS. We still know far too little about the disorder to make any solid claims about the certainty of avoiding the bends.

    Other advantages of EAN have been reported, but haven’t yet been fully scientifically documented. The first involves nitrogen narcosis. The theory is this: The breathing mixture contains less nitrogen than normoxic air, and nitrogen is responsible for narcosis. Thus, as the diver breathes less nitrogen, he is less susceptible to nitrogen narcosis than when breathing air at the same depth. Many EAN divers have confirmed this hypothesis, while others have seen no noticeable difference between air and EAN.

    Another benefit experienced by many EAN divers is what can be called the “feel goods.” Quite often divers who use EAN report noticeable lack of post dive fatigue. In many cases, excessive post dive fatigue is attributable to what is termed “sub-clinical” DCS. The theory is that the higher percentage of oxygen in EAN reduces or eliminates these symptoms. The “feel goods” might also result from better oxygenation of the tissues by the enriched air-breathing environment.

    A final benefit of EAN, oddly enough, is assumed to occur if a diver is stricken by decompression injury. Because the breathing gas contains a higher-than-normal level of oxygen, it’s theorized that tissues affected by these disorders will survive longer than if the diver was breathing air. Evidence also suggests that breathing EAN can help significantly reduce asymptomatic or silent bubbles after a dive.

    THE PROBLEMS WITH BREATHING EAN

    EAN is not a magical answer to the physiological problems facing divers. For instance, EAN divers are still subject to the same effects of Boyle’s law – squeezes and lung overexpansion. And while the reduced percentage of nitrogen will increase no-decompression time, EAN divers are not immune to DCS. In addition, EAN creates a few unique problems of its own.

    We have known since the late 18th century that humans cannot tolerate breathing pure oxygen at high pressure with eventually falling victim to a disorder called central nervous system (CNS) oxygen poisoning. The symptoms of this disorder include: tunnel vision, ringing in the ears, nausea, facial twitching, irritability, and dizziness. But the most serious effect of CNS oxygen poisoning is the onset of epileptic-type convulsions. Normally, convulsions are not a life-threatening event—if they occur on land. A diver who convulses underwater, however, could drown. Thus, divers must avoid any circumstance where convulsions might arise. (This is why people with seizure disorder are usually disqualified as candidates for diving.)

    A complicating factor is that individuals vary greatly in their susceptibility to CNS oxygen poisoning. Even the same individual can vary in his own susceptibility from day to day. Based on years of experience and tens of thousands of dives, both the U.S. Navy and NOAA long ago determined specific oxygen tolerance limits. The modern EAN diving community has followed suit and also adopted these limits. Recently, though, some authorities have recommended a reduction in these limits for recreational divers.

    The current recommended oxygen tolerance limits for diving are determined by calculating the partial pressures of oxygen breathed under pressure. These tolerance limits are established in order to prevent divers from encountering CNS oxygen poisoning at depth. You’ll remember that, according to Dalton’s law, each gas within a gas mixture exerts a pressure proportionate to the surrounding pressure. This explains why as a diver descends, the partial pressure of oxygen he is breathing increases. If the diver continues his descent, oxygen toxicity, due to increasing partial pressures, will occur. The depth at which CNS oxygen poisoning occurs is directly related to the amount of oxygen in the diver’s breathing gas. The more oxygen in the mix, the shallower the depth for the oxygen tolerance limit.

    When using normal air, the oxygen toxicity limit has no impact on divers who restrict their diving to 130 feet or less. This is because the partial pressure of oxygen in normal air does not reach toxic partial pressures until depths of more than 210 feet. However, EAN mixtures, because of their increased oxygen content, reach this limit at much shallower depths. The chance of CNS oxygen poisoning, therefore, becomes a very real concern even at recreational diving depths. For example, the Maximum Operating Depths (MODS) for NOAA Nitrox I and NOAA Nitrox II are 130 and 110 feet respectively. Exceeding these depths exposes divers to the same risk of oxygen poisoning as breathing air beyond 210 feet!

    Oxygen tolerance is the reason for one of the most important rules when using enriched air: “The diver must closely adhere to depth limits.” As you’re aware, the maximum depth for recreational diving is 130 feet. This is because of the possibility of severe nitrogen narcosis beyond that depth.

    However, it’s the onset of CNS oxygen poisoning that determines the depth limit for EAN, not the effect f nitrogen. Unlike nitrogen narcosis, CNS oxygen poisoning does not always come about gradually. While the diver might experience minor symptoms before convulsions occur, convulsions often begin with no prior symptoms!

    Dr. Lee Sommers, diving safety coordinator at the University of Michigan, sums up the matter quite well. He states in an article in the recent issue of NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) journal Sources, “I suggest that, unlike nitrogen narcosis, which appears to manifest itself progressively from mild to severe impairment, oxygen toxicity can be a much greater threat to the diver. The simple fact that the onset of oxygen-induced convulsions with no preceding symptoms is possible adds another unpredictable dimension to (enriched air) diving. Oxygen may prove to be far less forging than nitrogen!”

    The conclusion is both harsh and simple: While a diver breathing air might get away with exceeding the recreational diving limit f 130 feet, it’s unlikely he’ll live to tell about it if he exceeds the depth limits using EAN.

    IS EAN WORTH IT?

    Some in the recreational diving industry vehemently opposed the proliferation of EAN diving. The reality is, however, that this is like trying to push water uphill. The question is no longer should recreational divers use nitrox; the fact is that they are using it. ANDI and IAND have, to date certified almost 300 instructors and more than 4,000 divers. Furthermore, authorities expect this number to double within the next year! These figures, of course, don’t account for those using EAN who have not been formally trained to do so. How many divers this involves is difficult to determine.

    Rather than trying to resist the inevitable, it’s more useful to ask the question: Are the advantages of EAN worthwhile given the problems it presents? Frankly, this depends on the type of diving one does and how EAN is used.

    For divers of less than 60 feet, there really is no particular advantage to using EAN over air—if increasing your no-decompression time is what you’re after. Although EAN will theoretically extend the no-decompression limits greatly, this has little practical effect. Unless a diver wears double tanks, he’d run out of air long before he reached the EAN no-decompression limits.

    For dives below 130 feet, EAN provides no advantage to recreational divers. In fact, because of the increased partial pressure of oxygen, NOAA Nitrox I cannot be used safely below 130 feet. And NOAA Nitrox II can’t be used safely below 110 feet.

    The advantage of using EAN to extend no-decompression time, as Table 1 shows, occurs on dives in the 60- to 130-foot range. EAN probably gives a significant enough advantage to consider its use in this depth range if you’re properly trained and closely adhere to EAN diving procedures. (See the “EAN Do’s and Don’ts “sidebar.)

    Still, the primary benefit of using EAN is that it can probably enhance diving safety considerably when used in conjunction with air tables or computers. For this reason alone, enriched air deserves a close and thoughtful examination by all divers.



    DO’s and DON’Ts of EAN DIVING

    Be trained and certified for EAN diving: Never dive with enriched air if you haven’t completed a sanctioned course. The dangers of enriched air are both subtle and insidious. Also, certified EAN divers should never encourage friends who are not EAN-certified to use enriched air without proper training
    Secure EAN from a reputable source, and never dive using a “home brew”: All divers must be certain of the quality of their breathing air. For EAN diving this means not only avoiding contaminates, but also verifying the mixture’s oxygen content. Ask whomever is providing your fill to give you a tour of the compressor/storage system, and ask them to explain the operating procedures and safeguards in place. Above all, never try to mix your own EAN.

    Always personally analyze your gas before use: Only an analysis can confirm the actual percentage of oxygen in an EAN mixture. Never use a cylinder containing enriched air unless you analyze it first. And be sure to use at least two in-line analyzers. Multiple analyzers validate the results of one another.
    Never exceed the Maximum Operating Dept (MOD) for the mixture you are using: The maximum depth for using EAN is not approximate or flexible. Remember, convulsions from CNS oxygen poisoning can come without warning. Know the Maximum Operation Depth for the mixture you’re using and don’t dive beyond that limit.
    Use only dedicated oxygen clean and compatible cylinders: Use of non-dedicated cylinders results in a high risk of explosion, and could subject an unknowing diver to oxygen poisoning. Follow the proper labeling procedures.



  • June 01, 2018 8:20 PM | Tom Stenger

    Hello Club Members,

         June 1 has arrived and this means hurricane season. As we leave for our summer dive trips, Yah Caymans, we leave our homes vulnerable. Although the likelihood of early hurricanes are rare, one can never predict mother nature. 

         With this in mind we need to prepare our homes and cars before we leave for our trips. This means we need to keep in mind when the peak storm season is and be ready to come home from a trip a few days before a storm and find the stores empty. This should not be the time to prepare and you should have done it early.  As we continue our travels, it is important to start stocking up on goods early and have them set before you leave for your vacations. 

         For me this is an important must do. Since I work for the City of Ft Lauderdale, I am typically called in early to assist the city to prepare for the storm. This means that while everyone is fighting for gas at the pumps, I am already at work keeping the peace. So I must have my preparations done  very early. I always ensure that I have my stock in order early, which I have already done and am ready to return from a trip and goto work the next morning. 

         There are dozens of links to help you prepare and I have attached the links for Broward and Palm Beach EOC. If you get stuck on a trip have a plan in place with some friends of family to secure your home. Although be gentle on them because they are doing you a big favor. 

    With all the negatives out of the way , time to enjoy a great dive season. Stay away hurricane. 

    http://www.broward.org/emergency/Pages/Default.aspx

    http://discover.pbcgov.org/publicsafety/dem/Pages/default.aspx

    Tom Stenger

      

          


  • April 29, 2018 7:02 PM | Tom Stenger

    Hello Club,

         Unless you invest in the fancy full face mask and U/W comms system, you are probably using hand signals? But, just like different languages, hand signals may get a bit confusing and the last thing you need is to send out mixed signals.

         So lets review some of the basic signals right from the Open Water Dive Manual. 

    Image result for padi hand signals

    Here are some for Marine Life. 

    Image result for scuba hand signals for marine life

          As we begin the summer dive season be sure to refresh on you signals and before every dive brief your buddy on any special signals you may use. That way when you give them some weird signal, they don't look at you like a confused minion. 

    Image result for scuba hand signals for marine life

    Tom Stenger

    Image result for scuba minion


  • April 02, 2018 7:01 PM | Tom Stenger

         As we prepare for our busy local and overseas dive season, it is always a good ideal to refresh our basic dive skills. The basic skill you learned in your Open Water Class are important every time you dive, even if you don't have to use them. 

         I can't tell you how many times my mask has flooded or my tank came loose as I bankrolled off of a friend's boat. Although considered a unusual issue, it was easily handles with little issue because of the confidence I had in my basic skills.

         So what should I focus on and how can I practice. When ever I get new gear or items back from service, I love to jump into my community pool and test it out. I also use this time to practice some basic skills like mask flooding , regulator recovery, and locating my alternate air source. 

         What if you don't have a pool? Well, next time you are on a club dive at the end of the dive practice your skills. Just remember to brief your dive buddy first, so they know.

    Here are some tips to start the season: 

    1. Do you ABC’s

    Take your time to go through your kit, and make sure all is in order, and that you’re being extra thorough in assembling the elements.

    Haste makes waste. So take your time.

    2. Practice your basic water skills

    Go through the basic dive skills.

    Do a hover (if you struggle, start with the fin pivot), remove and replace regulator, remove and replace mask.

    If you’re really ambitious, you can also remove and replace BCD and weight belt at the surface.

    And if your buoyancy is top notch, take it up a level and try inverted hovers, trim, etc.

    If you have the opportunity, also practice a few water entry strategies, such as giant stride.

    2. Practice your basic water skills

    Go through the basic dive skills.

    Do a hover (if you struggle, start with the fin pivot), remove and replace regulator, remove and replace mask.

    If you’re really ambitious, you can also remove and replace BCD and weight belt at the surface.

    And if your buoyancy is top notch, take it up a level and try inverted hovers, trim, etc.

    If you have the opportunity, also practice a few water entry strategies, such as giant stride.


    3. Practice emergency skills

    Next, move to the more advanced skills, and consider repeating these from time to time, in-season.

    These include deploying an SMB, out-of-air scenario, and re-surfacing of an unconscious or injured diver.

    If you dive with doubles, also practice your basic shut-down drills.

    4. Work your communication skills

    Agree with your buddy that at some point during the dive, you both need to communicate something on the dive, preferably rather complex, to the other. Make it scenario based, and make sure you have a sign to communicate that this is in fact just a scenario.

    Bring two writing slates or wetnote books. You or your buddy then communicates a message to the other, who then writes down what he or she believes is communicated. Then you switch. Afterwards, you've compare notes and see how efficiently you've communicated the messages.

    3. Practice emergency skills

    Next, move to the more advanced skills, and consider repeating these from time to time, in-season.

    These include deploying an SMB, out-of-air scenario, and re-surfacing of an unconscious or injured diver.

    If you dive with doubles, also practice your basic shut-down drills.

    4. Work your communication skills

    Agree with your buddy that at some point during the dive, you both need to communicate something on the dive, preferably rather complex, to the other. Make it scenario based, and make sure you have a sign to communicate that this is in fact just a scenario.

    Bring two writing slates or wetnote books. You or your buddy then communicates a message to the other, who then writes down what he or she believes is communicated. Then you switch. Afterwards, you've compare notes and see how efficiently you've communicated the messages.

    Enjoy, 

    Tom

    3. Practice emergency skills

    Next, move to the more advanced skills, and consider repeating these from time to time, in-season.

    These include deploying an SMB, out-of-air scenario, and re-surfacing of an unconscious or injured diver.

    If you dive with doubles, also practice your basic shut-down drills.

    4. Work your communication skills

    Agree with your buddy that at some point during the dive, you both need to communicate something on the dive, preferably rather complex, to the other. Make it scenario based, and make sure you have a sign to communicate that this is in fact just a scenario.

    Bring two writing slates or wetnote books. You or your buddy then communicates a message to the other, who then writes down what he or she believes is communicated. Then you switch. Afterwards, you've compare notes and see how efficiently you've communicated the messages.

    2. Practice your basic water skills

    Go through the basic dive skills.

    Do a hover (if you struggle, start with the fin pivot), remove and replace regulator, remove and replace mask.

    If you’re really ambitious, you can also remove and replace BCD and weight belt at the surface.

    And if your buoyancy is top notch, take it up a level and try inverted hovers, trim, etc.

    If you have the opportunity, also practice a few water entry strategies, such as giant stride.

    1. Do you ABC’s

    Take your time to go through your kit, and make sure all is in order, and that you’re being extra thorough in assembling the elements.

    Haste makes waste. So take your time.

    1. Do you ABC’s

    Take your time to go through your kit, and make sure all is in order, and that you’re being extra thorough in assembling the elements.

    Haste makes waste. So take your time.

    Scuba skills include kit checks<img class="size-full wp-image-7249" src="//images.divein.com/img/scuba-skills-train-pool.jpg" alt="Scuba skills include kit checks" width="800" height="533" />

    A diver taking time going through her kit - Credit: PhotoSky 4t com

    2. Practice your basic water skills

    Go through the basic dive skills.

    Do a hover (if you struggle, start with the fin pivot), remove and replace regulator, remove and replace mask.

    If you’re really ambitious, you can also remove and replace BCD and weight belt at the surface.

    And if your buoyancy is top notch, take it up a level and try inverted hovers, trim, etc.

    If you have the opportunity, also practice a few water entry strategies, such as giant stride.

    Buoyancy scuba skills practice<img class="wp-image-7252 size-full" src="//images.divein.com/img/scuba-skills-pool-buoyancy.jpg" alt="Buoyancy scuba skills practice" width="800" height="531" />

    A scuba diver practicing buoyancy in a pool - Credit: Royster

    3. Practice emergency skills

    Next, move to the more advanced skills, and consider repeating these from time to time, in-season.

    These include deploying an SMB, out-of-air scenario, and re-surfacing of an unconscious or injured diver.

    If you dive with doubles, also practice your basic shut-down drills.

    4. Work your communication skills

    Agree with your buddy that at some point during the dive, you both need to communicate something on the dive, preferably rather complex, to the other. Make it scenario based, and make sure you have a sign to communicate that this is in fact just a scenario.

    Bring two writing slates or wetnote books. You or your buddy then communicates a message to the other, who then writes down what he or she believes is communicated. Then you switch. Afterwards, you've compare notes and see how efficiently you've communicated the messages.

    Scuba skills underwater communication <img class="size-full wp-image-7256" src="//images.divein.com/img/scuba-skills-underwater-com.jpg" alt="Scuba skills underwater communication " width="680" height="510" />

    Underwater communication using a slate - Credit: Globalreset

    All of these skills are of course necessary for all scuba divers.. So a beginning of season run-through is valuable, and elements of it should be repeated during the season, preferably on easy dives at well-known sites.

  • March 05, 2018 6:34 PM | Tom Stenger

         One of the most important piece of Safety Gear we can have is one we often don't even know how important it is to use.

         Surface Marker Buoys (SMB's) are an important piece of safety gear to have on every dive. All scuba agencies now require it to be carried in classes and many dive boats require it as well.

         But how much do you know about it and how much consideration did you put into buying yours? Surface Marker Buoys have been around for many decades and have been a part of every Technical Divers tool box. But, it's more then one other piece of gear to carry.

         Although one never hopes to lose the person carrying the flag, in reality sometimes it happens. As you learned in your Open Water Class, the rule is to search for one minute and then surface. But, what if the line snaps on the flag and it continues to drift away with the charter boat following it?

         This is where a SMB can be helpful to make you visible. Divers in the water are hard to see by boats. Since only your head is visible and waves can obscure visibility, a SMB can give you some height over the water.

         When picking a SMB to carry you need to consider the brighter the better and size does sometimes matter. In rough seas or bright days, a dive flag can be hard to see and can be lost in the waves. 

    Image result for dive flag in water

    But deploying a SMB to supplement the flag on the surface now creates a bigger object to see and you can wave it. 

    An SMB signal is handier than a DSMB

    Several divers deploying a few SMB's make a bigger target. How easy do you think it would be to see these several divers with their deployed SMB's? 

    Image result for dive smb

         In ending, SMB's can be used to make a dive boat captains job that much easier in rough seas and can be valuable when you lose the flag or the person holding it. I prefer a bright yellow because it sticks out but red and even pink are pretty bright too. I also prefer one that can be filled manually or by inserting a regulator to fill. This SMB can be inflated solidly and can be raised over the head without going limp. But like all other dive gear you need to look at the cost you are willing to pay, how you will attach it to keep it out of the way, and how big you are willing to carry.

    Safe Diving

    Thomas Stenger 

  • February 04, 2018 2:07 PM | Tom Stenger

    Hello Everyone,

    I have had a few people ask me about putting on a CPR/ First Aid class for the club. As you may know I am a current Dive Instructor as well as CPR/ First Aid Trainer.

    I wanted to get a feel for who may be interested. It was suggested that this could be done as a social event and that would be a great ideal.

    I could either host it at a site down on Ft Lauderdale Beach for a minimal cost (paid to the building) at the USCG Auxiliary building followed by dinner down there on Ft Lauderdale Beach. It can also be hosted by a club member, if someone would like to host it at their home (my condo is too small)?  Keep in mind that if we have a big turnout space may be tight. I teach at the USCG Auxiliary site and it can easily hold 50 people.

    Although this would be a full certification class, you will not be issued a card. If you would like a card their is a fees, I have to pay to the certifying agency and if you would like to pay that I will issue you the card. The card is not necessary, but many need it to meet certain work requirements (IE: OSHA Standards, Daycare Workers, Boat Captains, Active Divemasters, ETC. )

    The class would take about 4-5 hours (depending on how everyone is getting it) and would be scheduled on a Sun late Morning till the afternoon.

    This is a great skill to have for your everyday life. If you are interested please email me and let me know it you want the card as well.

    Thomas Stenger
    safety@usadiveclub.org

  • January 28, 2018 8:26 PM | Tom Stenger

         Diving in South Florida can be a year around sport. But water temps in January can get down to the low 70"s and in hind sight from say the waters off New Jersey that pretty warm. One still gets cold and this can lead to issues while diving. 

         So how do you maximize diving while keeping yourself comfortable? Having the right thermal protection for the dive environment is a big factor. Water draws heat away from the body 20 times faster then in air. Having the right wetsuit and it fitting right will make a big difference. Most people think that Florida is a year around 3mm suit state, but most experts will tell you that a 3mm wetsuit is only good to a low of 73 deg F. But if your doing multiple dives and the air temperature is cool, you body is working to stay warm in the water and out.

         For those who dive a lot and may have less natural thermal insulation, a 5 mm may be the new standard suit for you cooler water diving. this will keep you comfortable down to the mid 60's.

         How about hoods and gloves? Hoods help prevent heat loss from your head that is estimated to be 20 to 40 percent of the bodies heat loss. Gloves also help protect your fingers and reduces your loss of dexterity. 

         One must remember that the bodies main goal is to keep your core warm, so as the core gets cold it regulates blood flow to your outer extremities. So it is important to help the body out and protect those areas as well. 

         In between dives you need to rewarm the body to prepare it for the next dive. This may include peeling off the wetsuit, drying off and putting on a sweater. This will quickly allow your core to reheat.

         Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Even in the cold, you body dehydrates and this causes your body to do more work with less resources.

          For those wanting gadgets, technology is coming to help in the form of Thermal Garments. Many companies are now offering Thermal heated undergarments that work underwater, but they are still pricy. Check out www.heatedwetsuits.com for some examples.

         If that's not in you budget, perhaps placing a heat pack against you chest near your core, can give the body that slight heat edge. Check out www.reusableheat.com for hot packs that are safe to dive with. Placing one in your suit for a dive may help you feel more comfortable thru the dive.

         I guess when all else fails just wait till summer to dive. On the other hand that just take the fun out of being an avid diver. Maybe a semi-dry or drysuit is a must. But I'll let you make that call. 

    Thomas Stenger 

    Safety Coordinator

    1/28/18

     

     


       

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