Dive Operations and COVID-19
Dive operations and COVID-19. While most dive businesses have ceased operations due to national and local lockdown orders. Divers and dive business owners are eagerly anticipating a return to diving. The following questions and answers have been compily from questions sent in by divers and dive professionals to Divers Alert Network and are intend to help everyone for a safe return to the water. Here is recommendations from DAN.
A few basic rules apply to everyone, including staff and customers, regardless of dive operations.
- Wash hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (unless working with oxygen-enriched gases).
- Maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet, and avoid direct contact with other people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Make sure you and the people around you follow good respiratory hygiene. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, and dispose of the tissue right away.
- The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Defer to local orders with regard to masks/face coverings to ensure compliance.
PROTECTING STAFF AND CUSTOMERS DURING DIVE OPERATIONS AND COVID-19
How we protect our staff from COVID-19?
For employees, the general COVID-19 safety recommendations, as published by the WHO and CDC, apply. The use of protective face masks and gloves should be consider when staff members are in direct contact with clients. Reducing the number of people in certain areas or designating areas for staff members only may also be useful. Compressors, equipment maintenance areas, rental equipment areas, offices and classrooms could be temporarily off limits to clients to limit virus transmission. Encourage clients to practice social distancing and make sure they disinfect their equipment after every dive.
How we ensure that our customers will not get COVID-19 from our diving center?
While you cannot fully guarantee this, you can certainly reduce the risk by enacting preventive measures. Which include but are not limit:
- to creating and enforcing strict disinfection procedures
- preventing clients from gathering or sitting too close to each other
- reducing the amount of airflow in the building to a minimum (to prevent any airborne virus droplets from being circulated)
- most importantly, interrogating clients before allowing them to attend a training session or dive. Clients with signs or symptoms should not be allow to participate in any diving or related activities. Be sure to clearly post all disinfection policies to ensure that clients are aware before entering your business.
Should we request something from our customers prior to their arrival?
It takes only one infect person to spread the virus. Clients may not know they are infect, deny contact with an infected person. Or assume that minor symptoms are not relate to COVID-19. It is therefore important to ask if they have any indication of being unwell and encourage them to stay home or speak to a physician. You may want to consider refunding or rescheduling. You may also consider limiting visitors to only those who will be participating in diving or related activities.
Are there any areas of dive shop which should be temporary close or made unavailable to customers?
Changing rooms carry a heightened risk of contamination. Personal belongings of customers (including clothes) should be store in such a way as to avoid contact with common surfaces. If stored in lockers, these must be sanitize after each use. To minimize the risk of contact, consider asking customers to store personal items in plastic bags. Bathrooms also warrant special attention and should be disinfect regularly. Showers could be temporarily closed and replaced with a hose outside to rinse gear. And clients should be encourage to shower and rinse their gear at home.
How we manage disinfection operations at our dive shop?
Disinfection operations should be add to existing standard operating procedures. These procedures should follow local, state and federal guidelines on disinfection. Also staff should be train thoroughly in disinfection protocols. Identify high-touch surfaces in your operation, and ensure these are disinfect regularly. These include but are not limit to bathrooms, countertops, door handles and other surfaces staff and guests may touch often.
When using any disinfectant, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Follow this with a thorough rinse in fresh water, and allow the equipment to dry completely before use. For more information about choosing a disinfectant, go to Disinfection of Scuba Equipment and COVID-19.
Note that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are incompatible with oxygen-enriched gases.
If alcohol-based hand sanitizers are use before filling cylinders, ensure hands are completely dry and all alcohol has evaporated.
Equipment should be disinfect, especially when it comes into contact with the face, eyes or mouth. This includes but is not limit to:
- Second stage regulator mouthpiece and internal surfaces
- BCD oral inflator
When using any disinfectant, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Follow this with a thorough rinse in fresh water and allow the equipment to dry completely before use. For more information on choosing a disinfectant, go to Disinfection of Scuba Equipment and COVID-19.
Which surfaces should we disinfect in the dive center during dive operations and COVID-19?
The CDC recommends disinfection of all frequently touched surfaces. In a dive shop these may include but are not limit to door handles, bathrooms, countertops, card-reading machines, fill stations, equipment workbenches, communal tools and computer keyboards and mice. When using any disinfectant, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
INFECTION CONTROL: LIMITING THE SPREAD
How long does the coronavirus survive on various materials and surfaces?
Research on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is still developing, forcing experts to apply knowledge about similar viruses for answers. The human coronavirus 229E was found to survive for 2-6 days on plastic. 5 days on steel, glass, PVC, silicone, TeflonTM and ceramic. Up to 8 hours on latex, and 2-8 hours on aluminum. The SARS-CoV-1 virus was found to survive up to 9 days on plastic, 5 days on metal, 4-5 days on paper, and 4 days on wood and glass.
Studies of SARS-CoV-2 have found that it can survive for 2-3 days on plastic and steel. 24 hours on cardboard. Up to 4 hours on copper and up to 3 hours in aerosols (from a cough or sneeze). Little data exists on the survivability of SARS-CoV-2 on fabrics.
Disinfection — in conjunction with additional practices such as social distancing — remains a vital part of reducing the risk of viral transmission between divers using rental equipment. For more information, go to COVID 19: Surface Survival Times.
What should we do when a client wants to try on a mask or other equipment?
Any mask or other equipment handled by clients should be properly disinfected, rinsed with fresh, clean water, and allowed to dry. In the case of masks specifically, alcohol or other disinfectant wipes could be use for disinfecting. It is recommend that wetsuits not be available to try on. However, if this is really necessary, they should be remove from sales stock following fitting and stored for nine days to allow the virus to die naturally.
What actions should I consider during dive boat operations to prevent possible COVID-19 transmission?
This situation is one in which the risk of transmission will be high due to the limited space and proximity of people. At a minimum, consider the following suggestions:
- Consider reducing the number of divers per boat to better respect social distancing, and discourage any non-diving passengers.
- Any materials not need for the dive operations or for safety reasons should not be taken on board.
- Have all equipment on board before you start boarding the divers.
- Have scuba units assemble before divers board.
- Consider protecting masks, snorkels and second stages/mouthpieces by wrapping them in plastic bags to avoid contamination.
- Boarding procedures should be organize to respect social distancing at all times.
- Pre-dive mask rinse buckets should not be use. Anti-fog should be use, but spitting in masks should be discouraged or disallowed (especially for rental masks). Consider having divers supply their own masks instead of providing rentals.
- Staff should wear gloves when handling equipment.
- Social distancing is important to prevent the spread of a virus. But one should keep in mind that on a moving boat or in the wind, the virus may travel a longer distance. The use of protective masks will reduce the risk of contamination, but the virus can be present on any surface on board.
- Advise everyone on board to avoid touching anything where possible and to avoid touching their face.
- Remind divers not to share equipment or even let their equipment touch.
- Maintain social distancing while divers enter the water, and ensure that divers do not crowd together on the surface.
- Encourage divers to maintain at least 6 feet of distance when clearing their nose, sinuses or throat at the surface or after a dive.
- Maintain social distancing when divers get back on board.
- If your operation has chosen to provide all divers with pre-assembled equipment. The crew should change cylinders and either disinfect their hands prior or wear gloves when doing so.
- Encourage divers to handle only their own equipment.
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