Understanding Oxygen Toxicity

Written by DAN Staff

It’s rare to be on a dive boat without seeing someone diving enriched air nitrox, and considering the popularity of the PADI Enriched Air Diver course, this is not too surprising. Enriched air offers longer bottom times and shorter surface intervals, but it also comes with additional considerations and potential hazards, such as oxygen toxicity.

Oxygen toxicity can easily be  avoided by recreational divers, but should it occur underwater, it can be deadly. Every enriched air diver needs to understands the basics of oxygen toxicity and know how to avoid it. Here are a few reminders and suggestions for reducing risk.

What is Oxygen Toxicity?

Breathing oxygen at increased partial pressure for prolonged periods can have harmful effects on the body. There are two types of oxygen toxicity that divers should know about.

The first is pulmonary oxygen toxicity. It’s of less concern to divers because it results from prolonged breathing of high concentrations of oxygen, such as  while undergoing hyperbaric chamber therapy or breathing 100 percent oxygen during an extended evacuation. Pulmonary oxygen toxicity involves time periods that exceed the length of a dive, so it will typically be encountered on land following hours or days of oxygen administration.

It often begins with airway inflammation, which then spreads to the lungs. There, alveolar damage and/or collapse and decline in lung function may occur. Damage caused by this type of oxygen toxicity is entirely reversible.

The type of oxygen toxicity that is of serious concern to divers is central nervous system (CNS) oxygen toxicity. CNS oxygen toxicity can occur with very short exposures to significantly elevated partial pressures of oxygen and can affect any diver who exceeds or improperly calculates the maximum depth of their gas mix. This type of toxicity affects the tissues of the brain and spinal cord, and it can arise suddenly, causing vital tissue damage or seizures. Less serious symptoms of oxygen toxicity (lip or eye twitching, confusion and anxiety, among others) are unreliable indicators; in many instances convulsions present with no precursors.

If a diver begins convulsing underwater, drowning is possible if the diver loses the ability to keep a regulator in the mouth. Getting the diver to the surface is the best course of action if a seizure occurs.

Reduce the Risk

While even divers breathing air are at risk for oxygen toxicity if they exceed recreational limits, it’s mostly a concern for divers breathing enriched air or using rebreathers. Divers need to be certified as enriched air or rebreather divers if they want to breathe a gas mixture with more than 21 percent oxygen. Even with proper training and certification, it doesn’t hurt to monitor the gas analysis and oxygen exposure calculations of the divers you’re supervising. Being ready to refresh procedures or answer questions about gas mix testing and dive planning is in everyone’s best interest.

As the gas blender and cylinder provider, you want to be sure that your fill station is properly maintained, staff who fill cylinders have proper credentials, and that you follow all fill station documentation and logging procedures. Doing this is your responsibility as a dive professional or business owner, but it will also shows your customers that you care about their well-being and enjoyment.

For information about diving maladies, visit DAN.org

Reserve Your Room Now for the 2019 DEMA Show

Already know you’re headed to Orlando, Florida, USA this year for the 2019 DEMA Show from 13-16 November?

Be one of the first to book your room at the Rosen Plaza Hotel located near the West Hall of the Orange County Convention Center. Contact PADI Travel to secure the special room rate of  $192 US (+ tax and resort fee).

PADI® programs, such as the Course Director Update, Emergency First Response® Instructor Trainer course, PADI Business Academy and the PADI Social will take place in the Rosen Plaza Hotel, so you’ll be staying in the center of the action.

Email PADI Travel, or call 866 646 2187 to reserve your room today.

Insurance Renewal Coming Soon

My painful insurance lesson.

I worked for a dive operation that catered to high-end customers. We were a team of four – two instructors and two divemasters. On one particular trip, the thing we all dread occurred – one of the divers was severely injured. Jack was participating in a specialty training dive with me as the instructor and Jane (also an instructor) was serving as a certified assistant. Divemaster Bob was with our group and Divemaster Brad was aboard the boat helping divers enter and exit the water.

As Jack was boarding the boat following the dive, the fingers of his dominant hand ended up between the ladder and the boat, resulting in one amputation and de-gloving of three other fingers. We were able to provide immediate first aid and Jack was transported to the nearest medical facility for treatment.

Jack was hospitalized for a couple weeks as he contracted a severe infection while in the hospital. In addition, there were months of physical therapy and it was unknown whether Jack, the father of three, would be able to return to the operating room where he was chief of neurosurgery at a large hospital.

Obviously, worry set in. While our team did everything we could, and our actions did not contribute to the severe infection, we were concerned. We talked openly with our insurance and risk management team and prepared for the worst.

Jack’s annual income was more than $500,000 US. And, he was the sole breadwinner for his family. Estimates were that if a suit were to be filed, the damages (loss of income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement, etc.,) would be well in excess of $1,000,000 US. However, with potentially at least four of us listed as defendants (not considering the boat, boat owner, tour booking company, etc.), we expected our collective insurance policies would place $4,000,000 US on the table. Being responsible, prudent dive pros, we had each purchased our own insurance coverage, paying the full premium, with a Certificate of Insurance and Declarations Page saying we each had $1,000,000 US in coverage. . . until you read the fine print.

We were told (and shown in black and white) that the policy language stated, regardless of the number of insureds (four of us), the most the policy would pay was $1,000,000 US for any one incident. WHAT?!?!?

So, what did we pay for? We were not insured under a group policy, but each submitted our application and our premium to the insurance team with the expectation that we would each have $1,000,000 in coverage.

As it turned out, Jack did not file a lawsuit. He acknowledged that he had some contribution to the incident, but he did suffer terribly and it was nearly a year before he was able to fully work again. During this time we also suffered – the emotional stress of not knowing if and when the axe will drop.

Lesson Learned

Read the fine print. If you don’t understand something – ask. Ask for a comparison of the insurance policies you are considering. Do your homework. Don’t just blindly buy the cheapest or the newest insurance offering.

Note: In the above scenario, the PADI-endorsed program would provide $1,000,000 US in coverage for each dive pro, plus unlimited defense costs.*

*Subject to policy terms and conditions.

Coming Soon – Insurance Renewal

PADI® Dive Centers and Resorts deserve the industry’s highest rated and most affordable insurance available in the industry. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t take the time to really understand their policies – regardless of the provider. Those who don’t fully consider their business needs can make the wrong choices and end up with sub-par coverage offered by other industry carriers. Take a moment to stay informed and avoid costly mistakes. You’ll thank yourself later!

Here’s a scenario that shows what can happen when a dive center owner did not take advantage of PADI-endorsed Dive Center and Resort Insurance:

“I have been a dive center owner for six years, and like many dive operations I have never had a claim and never paid much attention to the coverage details of my property policy. Unfortunately one morning our compressor malfunctioned and started a small fire. This fire destroyed $50,000 US worth of my property. Due to the coinsurance provision (a detail I did not pay attention to), our claim payment was significantly less than the amount of the property I lost. Over the last six years my business has grown, but during the renewal periods I always told my broker to use the same coverage limit for our Business Personal Property. I had more rental equipment and a larger inventory of retail equipment. I had a coverage limit of $100,000 US, but the replacement cost of all my property was actually $200,000 US. I originally thought I was fully covered (less my $1,000 deductible) because the loss was only $50,000 US and I had a $100,000 US coverage limit. However, I quickly learned about the 80 percent coinsurance requirement and that it meant I was required to have a coverage limit of at least 80 percent ($160,000 US) of my total Business Personal Property replacement cost value. I was only insuring to 50 percent ($100,000 US) of my total property replacement cost value. Because of the coinsurance penalty being assessed, I only received a $30,500 US claim payment instead of the $49,000 US claim payment I expected. Not paying attention to, and not understanding, coinsurance cost me $18,500 US. I will make sure to purchase a property policy without a coinsurance requirement from now on.”

Stay protected and profitable by choosing PADI-endorsed Dive Center and Resort Insurance, which doesn’t have a coinsurance clause. The 2019-2020 policy details and applications will be sent to each PADI Retail and Resort Association Member prior to the renewal deadline of 30 June 2019.

New Partnership with IBCCES

PADI Worldwide and the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) have collaborated to bring the Certified Autism Center™ program to PADI Dive Centers and Resorts. The Certified Autism Center designation recognizes businesses trained in autism sensitivity and awareness, and  go above and beyond to better serve customers with autism and other cognitive disorders. The alliance will make IBCCES training and certification available to PADI® Dive Centers and Resorts. After becoming a Certified Autism Center, dive centers and resorts receive ongoing marketing support from IBCCES, enabling them to reach more than 20 million families around the globe who have children with autism.

Research shows that engaging in stimulating experiences such as travel, animal interaction, outdoor play and water activities is therapeutic for children and individuals on the autism spectrum. With one in 59 children diagnosed with autism in the U.S., special-needs travel is the fastest growing family travel segment. According to a recent study of 1,000 parents with a child on the spectrum, 87 percent would be more inclined to visit a center where staff are trained and certified.

To earn the Certified Autism Center designation, your dive center or resort  works with IBCCES to train at least 80 percent of your customer-facing staff so they have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to interact with  families and children with special needs, specifically on the autism spectrum. Training covers the topics of sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development and emotional awareness. Training must be taken every two years to maintain the certification.

Several PADI Dive Centers and Resorts have already completed the IBCCES certification including Sandals/Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean and PADI Five Star Dive Center First Coast Divers in Jacksonville, Florida, USA.

“This training opened my eyes to a whole new market and also helped me better understand many of our current customers,” said Dan Mechelke, General Manager of First Coast Divers, which became a Certified Autism Center in March 2019.

“We want every family to be able to enjoy the incredible Caribbean diving that Beaches Resorts offer daily,” said PADI Course Director Michael Clarke, Sandals Resorts International’s Group Watersports Director. “Two years ago when we introduced Beaches autism-friendly resorts program, we became the first resort company in the world to be distinguished by IBCCES. Now, Beaches Resorts is proudly taking our commitment to inclusivity for families with children on the spectrum to the next level as an Advanced Certified Autism Center. Through our longstanding PADI partnership and a mutual collaboration with IBCCES, we’re ensuring that all our guests have the opportunity to experience our world class dive destinations.”

In addition to increased staff confidence, you can benefit from this training by gaining access to a large under-served market, along with increased revenue and retail sales. If you’re interested in making your dive center or resort an ideal destination for customers with autism and other sensory disorders, visit https://ibcces.org/padi/.

PADI Business Academy Lite – New Jersey | 28 March 2019

If you haven’t heard the news, PADI® Business Academy (PBA) Lite just launched a new curriculum and is currently touring the Northeast US. The next stop is Secaucus, New Jersey on 28 March 2019, just one day before Beneath the Sea. Complement your trip to Beneath the Sea by attending this PBA Lite and remain focused on growing your business with these great seminars.

  • Science-Based Selling – Scientifically backed tactics that will take your sales game to the next level.
  • Course Linking Conversions – Learn how to increase profitability through bundling, selling and teaching multiple course at once.
  • 2019 Facebook Update – Stay up-to-date with the leading social media platform and benefit from the power of Facebook Insights.
  • Data-Driven Marketing – Learn how to properly segment your database to improve conversions through marketing and communications.

Venue Details

Date – 28 March 2019

Time – 7:30 am – 5:30 pm

Embassy Suites by Hilton Secaucus Meadowlands
455 Plaza Drive
Secaucus, NJ 07094

Don’t forget!

  • If you recently upgraded your PADI Dive Center or Resort to PADI Five Star, you’re entitled to one free seat at any PADI Business Academy during the first 12 months of Five Star membership. Simply complete the registration form linked below and check the Five Star promotion box to reserve your space.
  • PADI Pros applying for a 2019 Course Director Training Course receive three seminar credits for completing a PBA Lite.

Don’t wait to sign up, there are limited seats available and many are already reserved.

Reserve Your Seat

Meet Your 2018 Retail and Resort PADI Master Scuba Diver Challenge Winners

In 2018, PADI® Americas challenged PADI Dive Centers and Resorts to a friendly competition to see who could show the most percentage growth in Master Scuba Diver™ certifications. The following dive centers came out on top! Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to all that participated in the challenge. Your amazing achievements and dedication in certifying Master Scuba Divers continues to create loyal customers, confident and competent divers, and more stewards for the underwater world.

In no particular order, here are your 2018 Retail and Resort Master Scuba Diver Challenge Winners:

Scubatec Dive Center
Caracas, Venezuela

“We are very happy and pleased to have won the Master Scuba Diver Challenge in Venezuela. We worked hard to achieve it and also proved to ourselves that with work, dedication and professionalism, we can still achieve wonderful things despite adversities in our country.”

Blue Planet Scuba
Washington, D.C., USA

“Through promoting the MSD certification, we’ve seen a culture change within our shop among staff, students and even our more experienced divers. It has inspired people to continue their training and keep diving.”

Seattle Scuba
Seattle, USA

“We always have the Master Scuba Diver Challenge here at Seattle Scuba. It is a great accomplishment for our divers and we encourage all of them to aim for that certification.”

Go Pro Diving
George Town, Cayman Islands

“At Go Pro Cayman, our students in the Master Scuba Diver Challenge not only experienced the underwater world, but celebrated what they learned above the water afterwards. A fun challenge for all and well worth it.”

Ready to jumpstart your Master Scuba Diver Program? Learn more about increasing productivity with PADI Master Scuba Diver here.

Meet Your 2018 PADI Pro Master Scuba Diver Challenge Winners

In 2018, PADI® Americas challenged PADI Instructors to a friendly competition to see who could show the most percentage growth in Master Scuba Diver™ certifications. The following PADI Pros came out on top!  Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to all that participated in the challenge. Your amazing achievements and dedication in certifying Master Scuba Divers continues to create loyal customers, confident and competent divers, and more stewards for the underwater world.

In no particular order, here are your 2018 PADI Professional Master Scuba Diver Challenge Winners:

Ryan Scalf
Hawaii, USA

“Being part of PADI’s Master Diver program and seeing it transform divers confidence and skills while challenging them to be better, is a major reason I choose this profession.”

Michael Gray
Florida, USA

“Averaging 1,400-1,500 dives each year, my office under the USAF Special Tactics Training Squadron allows me an opportunity to become a contender within this challenge.”

Riccardo Sturla Avogadri
Virginia, USA

“If you know the standards and the PADI teaching system you will find a way to obtain successful benefits and awards from PADI. I will never forget this Master Scuba Diver Challenge!”

Congratulations again to all of the winners:  Ryan Scalf, Michael Gray, Riccardo Sturla Avogadri and Lane Peter.

Ready to jumpstart your Master Scuba Diver Program? Learn more about increasing productivity with PADI Master Scuba Diver here.

Last Call for 2019 Online Renewal

Time is running out to renew your 2019 PADI® Retail and Resort membership at a reduced rate. To receive the reduced 2019 PADI Retail and Resort membership rate you must renew before 15 December 2018. Here are a few tips to consider while renewing online:

  1. Online membership renewal is accessible on the My Account page of the PADI Pros Site.
  2. Renewing online before 15 December 2018 entitles you to a reduced membership rate for 2019.
  3. Choose the Automatic Renewal option when checking out to receive the lowest renewal rate for 2020.
  4. Follow the link below to renew now and continue enjoying all your great PADI benefits.


PADI Retail and Resort Automatic Renewal

PADI Retail and Resort Automatic Renewal begins 5 November 2018. Enrolling in automatic renewal provides you the least expensive annual membership rate available and ensures you receive uninterrupted access to PADI’s member benefits like online certification processing.

Along with reduced membership dues, automatic renewal also provides PADI Retail and Resort Members a chance to win an in-store marketing consultation with a PADI Americas Marketing Executive and $1,000 US in marketing co-op funds.

To enter the Marketing Consultation Contest, please ensure your store or resort is enrolled in automatic renewal and completes the short survey linked below before 5 November 2018. The in-store consultation will include a one-day review of your website, social media, email marketing, online advertising and $1,000 US in marketing co-op funds*.

Complete the following before 5 November 2018 and you will be entered in the Marketing Consultation Contest.

  1. Enroll in 2018 automatic membership renewal
  2. Access and complete this short survey.