Getting hurt during a recreational dive doesn’t have to be a wreck. Occasional injuries happen, from a little water in the ears to “Hey, did you know barnacles are really, really sharp?!” But being prepared for emergencies can make for a smoother and more relaxing dive trip. Below are some simple tips that can help you be prepared on every dive.
Wearing gloves and booties: Knowing the environment into which you are diving can be one of the simplest and most effective steps towards preventing injuries. Diving near pier pilings or other long-standing stationary objects? There will be barnacles. Gloves and a full body wetsuit can help protect your body from cuts and scrapes when diving.
Carry a basic first aid kit to take care of simple injuries and discomforts. What you’ll need: a sealable plastic case or waterproof bag; assorted size band aids; gauze and gauze tape; antibiotic cream like Neosporin; antiseptic wipes or running alcohol; aspirin or acetaminophen (aka Tylenol); ear drops for swimmers ear, an ace bandage. These basic tools can take care of the little things that don’t require emergency care.
Know your C’s: The Red Cross has an easy to remember action plan for any emergency situation that even applies to divers. 1. CHECK – Gauge the severity of the injury, how much distress the person is in, and whether everyone should call the dive and get back to land or to your dive boat. 2. CALL – Get help if needed. Carry an emergency whistle in the water so you can attract attention or alert your boat’s crew that help is needed. If shore diving, call 911 if needed as soon as you are out of the water. 3. CARE – Care for minor injuries or, in the case of more severe situations, stay with the victim until help arrives. Provide as much information as possible to the divemaster, paramedics, or health care professionals.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Contact your local YMCA or Red Cross about basic first aid and CPR classes. Plan your dive and know what creatures you might encounter under the water. Making a mental run through of how you’ll react in an emergency will help you be ready should one arise for real.