Wednesday 14 August 2013

Feeling Hot Hot Hot... Summer Diving in a warm climate

Scuba Diving in a hot climate such as Cyprus has its own dangers outside of the dive itself. Be aware that hot climates require special considerations for divers and holiday makers alike Scuba Diving in Cyprus in a hot climateWe are now hitting the height of the summer season here in Cyprus and the land temperatures are hitting the high 30s, low 40s (degrees centigrade) in the shade.

Even the water temperatures are getting towards the 30 degree mark, so to cool down, you need to
find a nice thermocline, which is usually around 25metres underwater.

Although these soaring temperatures and hot lazy days are fantastic for the thousands of tourists that flock to this tiny mediterranean island, there are a few things we all need to consider, especially for us Divers.

Firstly, there is the dreaded Sunburn.

As Divers, we spent an inordinate amount of time outside and in the sunshine wearing little more than a swimsuit. At the sea's shore or on the dive boat, there is usually a lovely sea breeze that keeps you cool and you can easily burn without realising it.

Divers on Dive Boat in the sun
Even under the water, you are not safe from the sun's rays, as you can tan or burn through the water. Quite often, this happens faster than on land.

So, when you are diving in a hot climate like Cyprus, use a high factor Sunscreen to protect yourself. Apply liberally and often and even before getting in the water because nobody wants to put on a well fitting neoprene suit over the red raw burn of the Sun.

The next big issue of Hot countries is Dehydration.

In colder climes such as the UK, we are told that we should drink approximately 8 pints of water a day. That is around 4 litres. When you get to hot countries like Cyprus you will need much much more than this.

Imagine all that water you lose through perspiration. It all needs to be replaced and unfortunately, beer does not help to rehydrate. So, consider swapping out a few of those alcoholic drinks for the good old "nectar of the gods"... water

As a Scuba Diver, Hydration is extremely important from a decompression point of view. Dehydration can cause a restriction in the flow of blood to the muscles in the body and this restriction can compromise off-gassing potentially leading to bubble formation and a "bend".

There are many combined factors that can lead to dehydration for a diver in a hot country. Not drinking enough water, Drinking too much alcohol, Sweating, Breathing dry air from a compressed air cylinder and of course, the spaceman effect (the need to urinate in a weightless environment) all add up to make this a very real problem.

The final topic I will touch on is Overheating

Here in Cyprus, we have extremely hot land temperatures at this time of year. When we kit up for our dives, it can be very easy to overheat.

Our suits are designed to keep our bodies warm but on land, this can be dangerous for us. With the sun beating down, we sweat and our core temperature is elevated over and above what it should be. If our protective mechanism of sweating cannot keep up, we risk heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.

So, why bother with the suits if the temperature is that hot you ask?

Unlike many tropical destinations, the waters around Cyprus are quite deep and although the water temperature at the surface of the sea can reach above 30 degrees, the colder waters from the deep take longer to warm up.

At the moment, the sea temperatures here are 28 degrees down to approximately 25metres and, at this point the warmed up waters from the shallows meets the colder water from the deep.

You are descending through the water, like you are in a warm bath when from the corner of your eye, you spot a slight colour change and a line of shimmering water. Suddenly, as you descend you feel the temperature drop from 28 degrees to 22 and you are extremely grateful that your instructor told you to put a wetsuit on.

This point where the cold water meets the warm water is called a thermocline and there is nothing more enjoyable than coming back up through it from cold water to warm.

So, if you are planning a dive trip to a wam country this year, remember to stay healthy, you must stay Hydrated, use a high factor sun protection and keep to the shade when kitting up, only putting on the wetsuit at the last moment when needed.

Most dive centres in hot countries will provide water for their divers to stay hydrated but, you should always have your own with you too... just in case. You can not go wrong with carrying some hydration salts also just to help along the way.

Enjoy the sunshine and enjoy the dives... I know we will

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