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Abyss Scuba Diving
Marine Stings and Minor Injuries of Freediving
At Abyss Scuba Diving, we want our divers to be safe both in and out of the water. That's why we've put together this post on marine stings and minor injuries while freediving.
There are a range of marine creatures that can cause skin irritations, stings and other minor injuries. In some cases, these can be quite serious. Nevertheless, most are easily treated with first aid and we recommend that all Freediver take a first aid course, such as a EFR course.
Most freedivers still frequently get sunburned, even with the proper precautions. The vast majority of the time, divers get burnt from being on the surface or out of the water. Spending time doing breathe-ups, watching fellow divers from the surface or from the freediving buoy, or time spent on the deck of the boat, all contribute to sunburn when freediving. The best way to avoid sunburn when freediving is to "Slip, Slop, Slap”.
The most common location you'll get blisters when freediving, is on your feet. And in almost all cases, the blisters are from the skin on your feet being rubbed raw against your fins. The best solution here is to wear neoprene socks to decrease the friction of your fins rubbing against your feet.
Less common places you can get blisters are your nipples, groin, and just above your arm pits. This is often due to the friction of your wetsuit against your skin. These blisters are most likely being caused by your wet suit not fitting properly or too much friction combined with salt drying your skin out. My advice is to double check that your wetsuit fits well, and to apply a gentle wet-suit and waterproof friendly lubricant such as Slippy Wetsuit Lube.
One of the most advantageous and disadvantageous features of freediving, is that you can quickly plunge into the water and be surrounded by natural marine life. There are hundreds of thousands of underwater animals and many of them can deliver quite painful stings and bites. The best way to prevent stings, bites and knocks while freediving: Wear gloves, wetsuits and neoprene diving socks/booties. Cover up as much skin as possible.
Jellyfish stings are unfortunately common and mostly painful. If you are stung, in the majority of cases you do not need to go to the hospital or seek further medical advice. However, some jellyfish stings can be very dangerous and might cause a severe reaction, requiring emergency first aid. The first aid varies depending on the type of jellyfish.
Sydney's most common sting is the blue bottle, and although first aid methods have changed over the years, the current advice is to wash the sting site with sea water and remove any tentacles. Run hot water on the skin for 20 minutes. Make sure the hot water will not burn but it should be as hot as they can tolerate.