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Guidelines for Handling Seasickness in the Water Before and After A Dive


a scuba diver floats on the surface and vomits

Seasickness on the surface of the water is rare.

© istockphoto.com, Vebjorn
Continued from page one -- Seasickness Guidelines for Boat Divers

A diver who is seasick on the boat usually feels better the moment he enters the water -- even if the sea is rough. However, an unlucky few continue to experience seasickness on the water's surface. Here's what to do if you feel seasick in the water before or after a dive.

1. Inflate Your Buoyancy Compensator (BC):

The first and most important action a diver should take whenever he experiences a problem on the surface of the water is to make himself float. If a diver is experiencing seasickness, he should inflate his buoyancy compensator (BC) so that his face is well above the water. This reduces the chance of the diver inhaling or swallowing water during the retching process, which only makes a bad situation much, much worse.

2. Do NOT Switch to Your Snorkel:

Most divers have been trained to switch from their regulators to their snorkels whenever they are on the surface. If you are feeling nauseated and the use of a snorkel or a regulator is necessary to prevent water from splashing into your mouth, be sure to use the regulator, not the snorkel. It's difficult to vomit with sufficient force to get the vomit completely clear of the snorkel tube, which means a portion of what you just released into the snorkel will find its way home. Regulators, on the other hand, are equipped with exhaust valves which make shooting puke out a regulator a piece of cake. Continuing to breathe from the regulator on the surface when seasick has an additional benefit. A diver breathing from his regulator inhales clean, dry air from his tank, avoiding any boat exhaust or other odors which may exacerbate his condition.

3. Warn Other Divers:

The most polite thing to do if you feel that you are about to vomit on the surface is to alert your dive buddy, guide, and other divers from your group so that they may move out of your splash zone. While discussing your upcoming performance may seem embarrassing, it's a lot less humiliating than inadvertently sharing your lunch with your fellow divers.

4. Vomit Down Current:

In most cases, there will be a gentle current or drift on the surface. Be sure to vomit down current (in the direction that the current is flowing) to avoid having bits of nasty washed back at you and your dive buddies.

5. Communicate:

Judging by your glazed eyes and the retching noises coming from your general direction, your dive buddies will be understandably concerned about your well being. If you are okay and feel that the nausea will pass let your dive buddies know. If you need to exit the water, be sure to say something. It's hard to judge whether a sick diver is simply going through a horrible few moments, or is having a bout of seasickness that is more lasting.

The Take-Home Message About Vomiting and Diving:

Seasickness and nausea are some of the last things divers want to worry about during a scuba trip. However, it's a good idea to have a plan about how to deal with vomiting on a dive trip to avoid making a uncomfortable situation worse.

Did you know that you can vomit underwater safely if you get seasick during a dive? Read Guidelines for Vomiting Underwater During a Dive.

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