SAFETY ALERT 3/2020
Because of recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), questions have arisen in the snorkeling industry about disease transmission when using rental equipment, especially mask and snorkels. With the threat of coronavirus on everyone’s minds, snorkelers want to know what precautions are being taken against the spread of disease. Properly sanitizing equipment is paramount.
PLEASE Keep the following in mind:
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 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 masks and snorkels) is very important.
We have included information from the Bureau of Mines Information Circular 9236; Cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing self-contained self-rescuer mouthpiece assemblies used in hands-on training (1989) which is provided on the CDC website — that we may have shared with you in the past, and bring your attention to the information provided below for your convenience.
This information applies to Snorkeling as well as SCUBA equipment.
The sanitizing guidelines, as provided by the CDC on page 5 of the document are:
In scuba training and scuba equipment rental, the use of shared equipment is common. As mentioned earlier, literature indicates that there are no formal standards for decontaminating shared scuba equipment. It is known that in certified, nationally recognized diving courses, training is required to be conducted with special diving equipment having a second regulator-mouthpiece and hose assembly attached to the primary air tank regulator. With this type of equipment, each diver will have his or her own mouthpiece during training. As a result, the risks of disease transmission are reduced. The Centers for Disease Control have made some recommendations for decontaminating scuba mouthpieces. These recommendations include thorough cleaning of the devices followed by disinfection. Disinfection can be accomplished by immersing the mouthpiece in some broad- spectrum germicidal solution. Exposure to a fresh solution of household bleach (1/4 cup bleach in 1 gal of tap water) for 10 min is considered sufficient for disinfection. Following disinfection, the mouthpieces can be rinsed with fresh tap water and permitted to air-dry.Manufacturers of scuba equipment have recommended that devices be rinsed thoroughly with fresh tap water. For shared equipment, it is recommended that the mouthpieces be removed from the unit and thoroughly scrubbed with soap and warm water. Brushes should be used to scrub away substances found on the surfaces of the mouthpiece and to adequately scrub the breathing hoses. Following scrubbing, the mouthpieces can be rinsed with fresh tap water and permitted to air-dry (Brnich, M.J., & Kellner, H.J., Jr., 1989, p. 5).
For the complete document provided by the CDC outlining these guidelines please click this link: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining%5C/UserFiles/works/pdfs/ic9236.pdf
This has been our “go to guideline” for some time and a procedure in use by many of our clients that operate snorkeling tours.
We are receiving orders that reflect an increase in snorkelers electing to own their own gear. Owning their own equipment removes the burden from operators.
Regardless of your preferred approach we hope that you find this information helpful.
PLEASE feel free to share this information with your industry associates.
Brnich, M.J., & Kellner, H.J., Jr. (1989). Cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing self-contained self-rescuer mouthpiece assemblies used in hands-on training. Bureau of Mines Information Circular 9236. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining%5C/UserFiles/works/pdfs/ic9236.pdf