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Diving Tips & Tricks: Preparing for Cold Water
Prepare yourself to stay warm DURING a dive by staying warm BEFORE a dive.
Each month we provide a series of tips and tricks from instructors and active explorers. Continuing with from last month’s cold water tips and tricks, we return to GUE Instructor Trainer, Guy Shockey for tips on staying warm.
Staying warm before a dive
Prepare yourself to stay warm DURING a dive by staying warm BEFORE a dive. This can be done by wearing warm clothing, such as gloves, scarves, thick socks, and a beanie also known as a tuque, bobcap, knit hat, or knit cap. But it’s most important to focus on keeping your core warm as well with proper layers, or wearing your base layer undergarments under your regular clothes to get them pre-warmed. In “The Science of warmth” they determined that when your core temperature drops too low your body simply stops sending blood out to the extremities in order to protect the vital organs. So keeping your torso warm is the number one way to keep your hands and feet warm too.
“One of the most helpful tips that I ever got was regarding blowing an SMB in cold water with numb lips and not having my breath escape around the SMB into the water. The tip was to place the SMB in the side of my mouth instead of the middle, and voila, it worked! My breath went into the SMB instead of mostly escaping.”-Ayisha Hassanali, Toronto, Ontario
Staying dry before the dive, meaning not being too warm and sweating, is key as once you are underwater the sweat will make you colder. So layering with a synthetic, wicking base layer to pull the moisture off your skin will help keep you dry (most athletic gear is made with this material). Wool rather than cotton will also help keep your body dry and warm as cotton holds moisture so keep it far from your base layer.
On average the human body’s core temperature is 98.6°F or 37°C. On an individual basis this can vary a few degrees Fahrenheit and about one degree Celsius. Hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition, occurs when our body temperature falls below 95°F or 35°C. Think of shivering as a warning sign that your body is getting too cold. So how can you produce more body heat? Human produced heat is generated through “burning” calories. “Essentially when your body uses energy heat is created”. So eating high calorie and healthy fats before a dive is helpful to for your body to create heat by providing it with lots of energy to burn.
What about post dive?
What can you do after a cold water dive to stay warm? Drinking a warm beverage like, coffee, tea, or hot cocoa helps to get the body to start recirculating heat. Eating after a dive also increases your body’s core temperature by refuelling it with energy to burn, and thus create heat.
UPDATE: Thanks to a reader’s feedback we pulled a part of the video showing divers pouring hot water over the head of a cold, wet diver post dive, along with the commentary. Note that taking a hot shower, or potentially pouring hot water over a cold diver after a dive, even a recreational one, can increase the risk of decompression sickness, particularly skin bends. Somehow, we did not make the correlation with pouring hot water over one’s drysuit/wetsuit and DCS[Full disclosure: We are human divers!]. This procedure could also be dangerous to someone in a hypothermic state. For these reasons, we do not advise doing this. If you have a question or would like to know more please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: The Science of Warmth
Header Image by Nicole Wächter
Guy Shockey is GUE instructor and trainer who is actively involved in mentoring the next generation of GUE divers.
Shop ‘Til You Drop: Comparing Tech DPVS
OK, admit it. If you don’t already have a diver propulsion vehicle or two, it’s likely on your Lust List. Here’s a DPV shopping guide comparing 19 different models.
by Nadia Lee and Martin Pieters
Header photo by Julian Mühlenhaus
We initially created the tables below as a tool for our community, the Orange County Underwater Explorers (OCUE), to be able to quickly compare the diverse selection of DPVs available on the market today. In our home waters off the coast of Southern California, we are fortunate to enjoy diving in a variety of spectacular seascapes. They are as wide ranging as shallow rocky reefs, kelp forests, plunging ocean walls, and wrecks in deep technical ranges
The ocean here, however, is as dynamic as it is sublime and stunning. Particularly as divers venture into technical training, it becomes increasingly likely that they will encounter ripping currents at open ocean dive sites. It only takes a few brisk kicks with doubles, drysuit, and a stage bottle chasing the drop line in a swift current before divers begin to eye their teammates’ DPVs with envy! With strong currents commonplace and several offshore reefs and walls only accessible by DPV, it is no wonder that DPVs are a hot commodity in our community for reasons of both safety and fun.
A few notes regarding the table
We selected manufacturers and models that have been of most interest to our community, typically from word-of-mouth, trade shows, and experience. We did not intend for this comparison to be an exhaustive overview of the market. As minimum requirements, we selected models that are at least capable of the ranges and depths we would demand of DPVs in our local diving. For the specifications, we chose the most commonly included categories provided by manufacturers. For the sake of simplicity, we did not include model-specific features.
Certainly, we recognize that there is much more to a full comparison than simply numbers. It would be impossible to concisely capture unique features, materials, build, and durability. We encourage a healthy amount of research before making a decision. We noted that the specifications were provided by manufacturers on their websites, but results may vary depending on the parameters they chose for testing (e.g. equipment, diver size, and conditions). Regardless, we have found this table to be a useful tool, and we hope others will find it helpful as well. Happy DPV shopping!
Click the images to view them larger.
Nadia Lee and Martin Pieters began their underwater adventure and addiction with an open water course in 2012. Over the last eight years, their love of the underwater world has only deepened—both figuratively and literally—with technical and cave pursuits as well. Martin and Nadia particularly enjoy diving with newcomers, and they are actively involved in growing their local GUE (Orange Country Underwater Explorers) and Project Baseline communities. On any given weekend, look for them swimming through the rocky reefs of their “backyard” in Laguna Beach, California!
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