In light of the World Health Organization’s recent declaration of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as a pandemic, the Divers Alert Network this week issued advice for divers on how to stay safe and healthy.
Questions have arisen in the dive community about disease transmission when using rental equipment, especially regulators. With the threat of coronavirus on everyone’s minds, properly sanitizing equipment is paramount, according to DAN, which advises divers to keep the following in mind:
According to the U.S. Centers for disease Control, household cleaners are as effective against COVID-19 as they are against the common cold and flu viruses. Therefore, cleaning and disinfecting equipment meant for personal use (such as second-stage regulators, masks, snorkels and BCD oral inflators) is very important.
Equipment can be effectively sanitized by submerging it in a 10% bleach solution or using a cleaning product such as Steramine tablets or any other quaternary ammonium compound. Be sure to use these products according to the manufacturer’s directions and then rinse the equipment with fresh water.
Products that are commonly used to clean dive gear but are ineffective against coronavirus include antibacterial and chlorhexidine mouthwashes or sprays. If you use hot soapy water, you’ll need to scrub your gear with a soft toothbrush to be effective.
If you’re a diver using rental gear and would like to take extra steps to protect yourself from transmissible diseases, thoroughly wipe the following equipment with a household disinfecting wipe and then rinse with fresh water before use:
• Regulator mouthpiece
• BCD oral inflator
• The inside of your mask
If you don’t have access to wipes, you may want to ask the shop you’re diving with to properly sanitize the equipment before you take it with you.
For a list of household cleaning products effective against the coronavirus, DAN recommends seeing the American Chemistry Council Center for Biocide Chemistries’ list of products that have an “emerging viral pathogen claim” from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Additionally, when using a household cleaning product, it might be prudent to change the active ingredient every so often to avoid breeding resistant strains, according to DAN.
The folks at DAN Europe have more advice. Check it out here.
Additionally, whether you’re planning to travel to dive, take customers on local diving excursions, or visiting a diving or travel show, the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) has set up a new page on its website that has links to the latest coronavirus information.