Advice on disinfecting scuba diving equipment in the wake of the global coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has been issued by Divers Alert Network (DAN), the international organisation that provides medical emergency assistance as well as dive-safety research and education.
DAN says that the diving community has been raising questions about disease transmission especially when using hired equipment, and whether extra precautions need to be taken to prevent further spread of disease.
In recommendations aimed both at individual divers and dive operators, DAN stresses the importance of thorough cleaning and disinfecting of equipment for personal use – particularly regulator second stages, masks, snorkels and BC oral inflators.
It says that according to official reports the same cleaners that prevent infection from familiar cold and flu viruses are equally effective against COVID-19.
Equipment can be effectively disinfected by submerging it in a 10% bleach solution, it says, or else using any antimicrobial disinfectants that contain quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs). The kit should be washed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions before being rinsed in fresh water.
However, certain products commonly used to clean dive-gear, including antibacterial and chlorhexidine mouthwashes or sprays, are ineffective against COVID-19, says DAN. Hot soapy water can be effective but only if combined with scrubbing, for example with a soft toothbrush.
Divers using rental gear can take the precaution of thoroughly wiping regulator, snorkel or BC inflator mouthpieces and the inside of masks with a household disinfectant wipe and rinsing with fresh water before use. Otherwise they should check with the dive-centre about the steps it is taking to disinfect its equipment.
12 March 2020
DAN suggests that when using household cleaning products to disinfect dive-gear it’s a good idea to change the active ingredient from time to time to avoid breeding resistant strains.
In the UK, official guidance from Public Health England on COVID-19 does not specify recommended cleaning products.