As the world faces the Coronavirus pandemic, learning the proper methods to clean and disinfect scuba equipment is very important.
Everyone’s reaction to this outbreak varies greatly. there are those that will be super cautions and basically do everything possible to avoid people by staying home and not traveling. Then there are those who will carry on in life as usual, taking all reasonable safety precautions along the way.
As of this writing, there have been no scuba related incidents with the coronavirus. However, it is becoming ever more difficult for dive travelers to travel to and from diving destinations because of increasing travel restrictions and in certain cases, pre-dive medical sign-off requirements.
If, for whatever reason, you are considering diving during the coronavirus scare there are a few extra safety precautions that you can take to properly disinfect scuba equipment. The Divers Alert Network ( DAN) issued a post on their website to encourage divers and dive operators to properly disinfect dive gear.
The following YouTube video by The Scuba Guru instructs us how to properly disinfect rental scuba equipment.
In the article, referenced above, DAN points out that everyday household cleaners are effective against the COVID-19. Therefore, they recommend cleaning/disinfecting dive equipment for personal use such as second-stage regulators, masks, snorkels and BCD oral inflators.
The DAN article goes on to indicate that: ( Updated per DAN on 6/24/2020 “Steramine is an effective sanitizing product, and some manufacturers recommended it for use on dive gear, it does not appear on the EPA’s “List N” and is thus not endorsed for removal of the new coronavirus.”)
In general, equipment can be effectively sanitized by submerging it in a 1% 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 gear with fresh water.
To disinfect equipment to kill the virus that causes COVID-19, a disinfectant on the EPA’s List N should be used. Before using a product, check to see if it has been registered with the EPA for use on dive equipment, respirators or the materials these are made of. Alternatively, the CDC recommends a solution of 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water (25 mL per liter of water) with a contact time of 1 minute. (Previous versions of this article recommended different ratios based on earlier information.)
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.
Products that are commonly used to clean dive gear but are ineffective against the virus that causes COVID-19 include antibacterial and chlorhexidine mouthwashes or sprays. Hot soapy water must be paired with mechanical action such as scrubbing 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 • Snorkel • BCD oral inflator • The inside of your mask
If you do not have access to wipes, you may wish to ask the shop you’re diving with to properly sanitize the equipment before you take it with you
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