How safe is your air?

Clean Air – don’t assume it’s there! Wicked Diving wants you to protect yourself!

While many divers assume the air they are breathing is clean – it’s not always true! One year ago in the Maldives 1 diver died and 9 others were hospitalized when the air they were breathing was severely contaminated.

Why? The dive operator was too cheap to properly maintain their compressors, had not properly trained their staff and failed to observe basic safety precautions.

The machine

The air you breath needs to be clean. Much more so if you are diving. The compressors that fill your tanks need to have good, clean, uncontaminated air supplies. The air intake hose needs to be located in a position that provides this.

On liveaboards even more caution needs to be taken. The exhaust from the engines, from people smoking, from cooking all need to be taken into account. In addition the Splash from the ocean and rain needs to be avoided. Even then the air is further purified through filters that remove impurities and moisture.

The Maintenance

One of the biggest fears is carbon monoxide build up. This can come from exhaust and cigarette fumes. The highest acceptable limit for Carbon Monoxide in scuba tanks is 15 ppm (parts per million). In the above mentioned incident – the tanks were tested at 150ppm! The intake hoses were cracked AND were directly in the line of exhaust from the boats engines.

Compressors use filters to rid themselves of impurities. Some compressors run on electric engines and some work on combustion engines (typical of portable compressors). The two kinds also have different filters to meet the different demands. Needless to say the compressors on that liveaboard were fitted with the less expensive filters that were not intended for their compressors.

The Training

Dive staff and the boat crew need to be aware of how to change the filters, which filters to use and how often to change. Their should be a log of servicing as well as an hour meter tracking how long the compressor has been running.

Regular inspections of the equipment as well as frequent filter changes are required for compressors to operate correctly. If these guidelines are not followed – the ari you breathe can be bad!

So when choosing your diving holiday and boat – do some research! Are the staff trained? How often is the compressor (or any equipment) serviced? Is the compressor (and equipment) serviced by factory trained and certified technicians? Where is the air intake?

Or to look at things differently – do you choose the cheapest parachute? If two dive operators offer the same service – but one is significantly cheaper – where are the savings? If you would like to be very thorough – ask to see the service log books and records. And always smell the air on your tank before diving!

How safe is your dive operator?

At wicked diving all our Similan Liveaboard staff are trained Air blenders – for both regular air and Nitrox. We have all records of the service performed and we appreciate our guests asking to see them. In addition we do extensive safety training in case of accidents – with at least one Dive medic on staff at all times.

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