Agency codes of conduct vs. "SCUBA lite" products that purport to require no training

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

2airishuman

Contributor
Messages
2,650
Reaction score
1,945
Location
Greater Minnesota
# of dives
100 - 199
[I'm placing this in "Advanced Scuba Discussions" specifically to discuss the obligations of instructors and experienced divers towards non-divers inquiring about these devices, and to discuss the best practices for fielding such questions]

The SCUBA industry has long been self-regulating. Reputable dealers offer training and don't provide rental gear or air fills to unqualified people, unless they are going to be diving under an instructor's supervision. Reputable suppliers of surface-supplied recreational gear, like Brownie's, strongly encourage purchasers to seek out formal training from a SCUBA instructor.

There have been growing numbers of direct-to-consumer purveyors of diving systems that don't encourage purchasers to seek out traditional training. In some cases, the absence of a training requirement is touted as an advantage. Some of these systems have been aggressively promoted. Some are SCUBA, and some are surface supplied. Here are recent examples from Kickstarter:

SCORKL - Breathe underwater with TOTAL freedom

AirBuddy | explore the underwater with tankless dive gear by AirBuddy — Kickstarter

https://www.kickstarter.com/project...irst-mini-scuba-tank-for-everyone/description

There are thousands of these systems being sold. Divers, instructors, and dive shops are going to encounter people using them and asking about them.

I offer these questions to ponder:

1. What is the most appropriate way to respond to people with no diving experience who ask about these products?

2. How do the major agencies' codes of conduct for instructors affect what instructors may and may not say?

3. How do the non-disparagement and "no encouragement of unsafe activities" requirements in the various codes of conduct work together? Are they in outright conflict for these products?

4. Is the arrival of these devices going to lead to state or federal regulation of diving?
 

tbone1004

Technical Instructor
ScubaBoard Supporter
Scuba Instructor
Messages
19,861
Reaction score
13,177
Location
Greenville, South Carolina, United States
# of dives
I'm a Fish!
1. let them know that scuba diving can kill you and that arterial gas embolism is far more likely to kill someone than the bends. If that makes them nervous, please seek formal instruction.

2. I don't believe mine does other than advocating for training. You can't force someone to be trained, it's not like flying an airplane or driving without a license.

3. I believe they are in outright conflict with these products hence the pushback you've seen from most people that actually dive

4. good lord I hope to hell it doesn't
 

ams511

Contributor
Messages
7,200
Reaction score
2,013
Location
Miami, Florida
# of dives
I just don't log dives
I am not exactly sure where you get that thousands of these devices are being sold. Especially given that two of your links are for products on Kickstarter. The AirBuddy is something similar to a Brownies Third Lung. The Scorkl reminds me of spare air. The mini scuba tank reminds me of a bailout bottle Aqualung sells to the military. I have no idea why they think their ideas are new.

I would explain the risks to the diver. While the risk of decompression sickness is low, they can still suffer lung expansion injuries or drown if caught in something underwater like monofilament or a net. Not to mention running out of air. I would also point out the manufacturers limitations of the devices. The devices are rated for shallow water only less than swimming pool depth. If they are interested in diving they would be better off spending the money on either scuba or free diving lessons.
 

boulderjohn

Technical Instructor
ScubaBoard Supporter
Scuba Instructor
Divemaster
Messages
29,170
Reaction score
24,404
Location
Boulder, CO
# of dives
1000 - 2499
I have seen advertisements about these devices, and I am afraid I have more of the same kind of questions about them as do you, and precious few answers. I can only answer one question with any kind of certainty.

1. I have never had anyone ask me a question, and I doubt anyone I now even knows they exist. I suppose that if I were to be asked, I would say that I certainly hope they come with enough instructions to deal with the key safety issues (more on that later).

2. PADI's member standards do not allow a member to disparage other instructional agencies. I don't know of any other rule that would remotely apply. In previous threads in which agencies were being disparaged, NAUI and SDI members have said they have no such restriction and so are free to fire away. I have no idea about other agencies. I don't believe any member of any agency would feel constrained from speaking their minds.

3. As I just said, the only "non-disparagement" rule I know of does not conflict at all.

4. I doubt it.

Overall Comment: My cousin learned to dive as a teenager in the early 1960s. He went into a sporting goods store in his hometown, bought everything he needed from the salesman on the floor, and learned how to dive from that salesman, who essentially told him not to hold his breath. He probably told him how to equalize as well. Yes, there had to be more instruction as he sold him a wetsuit, weights, etc., but he did not get anything close to the instruction divers get today. That is probably how most people got started then, and that was a lot more dangerous than these objects, because with these objects, you really don't get down very far. As scuba became more popular, the industry figured itself out.

So who is going to sell these things, at least at first?

1. Let's say you are the owner of a sporting goods store, and you know a little about scuba. A salesperson comes in and tries to get you to sell one of these products. Do you think you might ask him or her a question or two about what will happen if one of your customers buys one, blows a lung, and dies? Might you wonder about your liability for selling an unsafe product? Heck, you can't buy lawn darts in a store any more for that reason.

2. Let's say you own a resort, and are considering buying one of those for your guests to rent. Resorts are already doing things like that. A non-diving friend of mine used some sort of diving helmet on a trip about a decade ago and almost destroyed his ears. I suspect you, too, would want to make sure that your customers are well informed before they use it--again, the risk of liability rears its head.

3. If you were a dive shop, you would probably consider at least some of these devices in your program, but, once again, you would certainly want to make sure that the users were well informed.

I suspect anyone wanting to sell these will want to protect themselves from litigation, and that will probably provide the primary protection the public needs. I remember many years ago when I was selecting a binding for my new skis, and I asked about safety. The salesman laughed and said that any really unsafe binding has been lawsuited out of existence long ago. I suspect we will see something similar here.
 
OP
2airishuman

2airishuman

Contributor
Messages
2,650
Reaction score
1,945
Location
Greater Minnesota
# of dives
100 - 199
I am not exactly sure where you get that thousands of these devices are being sold.

The kickstarter pages show the number of subscribers or patrons or whatever. Purchasers by another other name...

Overall Comment: My cousin learned to dive as a teenager in the early 1960s. He went into a sporting goods store in his hometown, bought everything he needed from the salesman on the floor, and learned how to dive from that salesman, who essentially told him not to hold his breath. He probably told him how to equalize as well. Yes, there had to be more instruction as he sold him a wetsuit, weights, etc., but he did not get anything close to the instruction divers get today. That is probably how most people got started then, and that was a lot more dangerous than these objects, because with these objects, you really don't get down very far. As scuba became more popular, the industry figured itself out.

There was a widespread appreciation though that SCUBA was potentially dangerous. And there were more accidents.

A related question is to what depth must someone dive before hazards of being untrained accrue? Any of these things will easily support a dive to 20 feet.

So who is going to sell these things, at least at first?

They are by and large being sold by individual entrepreneurs on eBay, kickstarter, and like platforms. They are typically not located in the USA, but ship internationally.

I remember many years ago when I was selecting a binding for my new skis, and I asked about safety. The salesman laughed and said that any really unsafe binding has been lawsuited out of existence long ago. I suspect we will see something similar here.

i imagine we'll see these go away right after the first lawsuit

None of the people selling these things are in the USA, and I don't think that's by accident. They are typically located in China or Austrailia or other locations where product liability lawsuits pose less of a problem for the manufacturer.
 

runsongas

Contributor
Messages
4,906
Reaction score
2,489
Location
California - Bay Area
# of dives
500 - 999
you can still sue a foreign entity and a judgement would have teeth as the payment processors and kickstarter/gofundme/ebay etc are still in the US
 

boulderjohn

Technical Instructor
ScubaBoard Supporter
Scuba Instructor
Divemaster
Messages
29,170
Reaction score
24,404
Location
Boulder, CO
# of dives
1000 - 2499
A related question is to what depth must someone dive before hazards of being untrained accrue? Any of these things will easily support a dive to 20 feet.
Of course. You can pop a lung from 4 feet. But the fact remains that if you run out of air at 8 feet of depth, you are more likely to survive than at 80 feet.
 

Cap335

Contributor
Scuba Instructor
Messages
533
Reaction score
381
Location
Houston
# of dives
I'm a Fish!
I think SNUBA is a bigger problem when my wife and I were looking at different cruises all of them had SNUBA and had no cert requirement. I don't know how much of a class they give before use
 

tbone1004

Technical Instructor
ScubaBoard Supporter
Scuba Instructor
Messages
19,861
Reaction score
13,177
Location
Greenville, South Carolina, United States
# of dives
I'm a Fish!
I think SNUBA is a bigger problem when my wife and I were looking at different cruises all of them had SNUBA and had no cert requirement. I don't know how much of a class they give before use

inhale, exhale, repeat as necessary. don't hold your breath. not a whole lot else to it... ;-)
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/peregrine/

Top Bottom