I love scuba – I love myself by Valentina Visconti President of Diabete Sommerso Onlus.

On October 16th, as Regional Manager of PADI EMEA, I participated in one of the most exciting events of my career, the Blue Week organized by Diabete Sommerso Onlus – PADI Center in the wonderful Ustica Island in partnership with Blue Diving Ustica – PADI Center.

I was honored to meet this very affectionate group of divers, all bound by a great passion: love for the sea and diving, albeit with the difficulty of their illness: diabetes.

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We have presented to this PADI group and Project Aware and especially the 4 pillars of change of PADI, in particular: “Health and Wellness” in tune with their activities:

Pillar of Health and Well-Being: point the spotlight on incredible stories of success over adversity, illnesses and difficulties that testify the healing power of diving. Through diving, many people have found hope for their future and we want to inspire so many others to experience such personal transformations and healings, both mentally and physically.

I dove with them, and I had the pleasure of meeting Andrea Fazi, one of the leaders and organizers of this group and their President: Valentina Visconti, a woman with a contagious smile, whom I thank for the emotions she gave me with these words:

I love scuba – I love myself

Scuba + Health + Wellness. The message comes strong and clear from the first moment in scuba diving: to dive, you need to be healthy and well-trained to deal with demanding tasks, not eating too much, nor drinking alcohol or smoking. If you are not fit, it is best to postpone the dive. These rules apply to all divers, at any level and anywhere in the world, but they are of greater value to all those people who have health issues but are so in love with the sea that they are willing to get in the game and enjoy it all the way.

Type 1 Diabetes (DT1) is a chronic illness that usually occurs during childhood or early adulthood. For causes that are still unknown, insulin-producing pancreas cells are self-destructing. Insulin is a fundamental hormone because it regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. People who do not produce insulin are forced to take it through injections or I.V.

A person’s life with diabetes is characterized by check-ups of glucose levels in the blood and insulin intake, in an eternal attempt to maintain balance between daily life and correct glycemic values. It’s a bit like keeping the perfect buoyancy underwater: you have to constantly keep an eye on yourself and the surrounding environment, use your head, and make the necessary adjustments. Losing diabetes control is not so difficult, and the consequences can be dangerous. For this reason, underwater has traditionally been denied to diabetics.

Today the taboo has been broken and people with diabetes can live the sea freely. A solution was found. Or, in other words, we rely on the general rule that one should dive only under good health conditions, applying it to the Nth power. To feel really good, a person with a chronic illness like diabetes must be able to perfectly take care of itself, study the rules of the metabolism, and apply them to become profoundly aware of the disease and of itself. A difficult journey that forces you to get out of the “comfort zone” of your daily habits and prove themselves.

It’s not easy. It is not immediate.

But love and passion for the sea are stronger than the difficulties.

It is the desire to fully live the sea, to explore it, to discover the unknown in the blue

It is the desire to fly in the water, to regulate its breath with fluids.

It’s the thrill of confronting a hostile environment.

These are the reasons why divers with diabetes take care of themselves and improve themselves. One improves himself to go underwater, but what you learn in the water becomes everyday life and a better future

Diving teaches us that there is an alternative world. Just put your head underwater.

And then raise it, to face the difficulties

NDR: The Underwater Diabetes Project, from which we have the association with the same name, was initiated 13 years ago and allowed many boys and girls with diabetes to get the scuba diving certificate, and above all to improve their health through passion for the sea .

Be like the sea which smashes onto the rocks and then goes back and tries again to break down that unbreakable barrier never tired of trying. (Jim Morrison)

 

Things you should know if you are travelling to the Maldives on a budget

This blog has several parts, next week read about general tourist information……

Currency Exchange

The Maldives has a non-convertible currency – Maldivian Rufiyaa – this cannot be purchased beforehand. One Rufiyaa is 100 Laari and is available in 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 Rufiyaa notes. The US Dollar is accepted as legal tender throughout the Maldives. Should you arrive with no USD$ then other major international currencies can be exchanged at the Bank of Maldives Foreign Exchange counter located in the arrival hall. This is the only dedicated foreign exchange counter in the Maldives. It is advised not to exchange currency in Male where bank queues are common and waiting time lengthy.

Only major foreign currency will be exchanged for local currency MVR. Hold on to your exchange receipt as you will need to present this upon departure at the exchange counter if you wish to change local currency back to foreign currency.

Paying in USD$

One US Dollar is equivalent to 15.42 Rufiyaa. However, the exchange rate offered on US$1 and US$5 notes by local businesses may be lower.This is because there is a 3% handling charge made by the bank on the deposit of US$ notes of US$5 or less.

The banks in the Maldives are very particular about the condition of bank notes and will refuse deposits of old style US$, even though still an active currency, damaged notes, badly creased, well-worn, or defaced notes will also be rejected. Therefore, if presenting such a note as form of payment you may be requested to change to a note of better condition. Please do not take offence, it is purely that the note will have no worth to the individual to whom you are paying.

Generally, any change given on a purchase made in US$ will be given in local currency MVR.

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ATMs and Credit Cards

Most banks represented in Malé provide ATM services. The Bank of Maldives has several branches in Male as well as other major population hubs such as the Male International Airport, Hulhumale and Gan. Several other regional banks also operate in central Male, including the State Bank of India, Bank of Ceylon, and HSBC. There are no banks on resort islands nor on many local islands. Only local currency MVR will be dispensed from ATMs. There is an ATM at the Male branch of the Bank of Maldives dispensing US$, however, it only dispenses to Bank of Maldives cardholders.

All major credit and debit cards can be used at resorts, hotels and many shops and restaurants in Male as well as on local islands. Note however, that a credit card payment fee may be applied to the total value of your bill. This charge can fluctuate dependent on the credit card payment processing company and may be up to the value of an additional 5%.

Local Tax

All services directly related to guests will incur 10% service charge and 12% T-GST (Tourism Goods and Service Tax). The 10% service charge is applied to the total value and 12% T-GST applied to the total value + service charge.

On local islands GST (Goods and Service Tax) is imposed on the value of goods and services supplied by a registered business such as a local café, local restaurant or local shop.

Environmental ‘Green’ tax will be applied to all stays in accommodation registered as a hotel, resort or liveaboard from 1st November 2015. This adds a further US$6 per person per night and is not subject to T-GST/GST.

From October 2016 $3 will be charged per person per night for guests staying on local islands in guesthouses.

Always check the small print online or ask if it is not clear to ensure that all appropriate local tax is included. What at first appears to be a great deal may not turn out to be.

to be continued…….

About Secret Paradise

Since 2012 Secret Paradise has been at the forefront of the Maldives local island tourism industry, promoting and supporting guesthouses, dive centres and activity operators based on locally inhabited islands throughout the Maldives archipelago. Offering group and private tours or independent travel packages, Secret Paradise holidays are designed to allow guests to engage with local people and experience the best from a paradise generally known as a luxury resort destination.

Responsible Tourism plays a very large part in what we do. We are mindful of ensuring we promote local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs and through education of both guests and locals we aim to protect the environment and limit where ever possible any negative impact to local life. We partner NGOs such as Save the Beach and marine charity organisations such as Maldives Whaleshark Research Program to provide opportunities for our guests to learn and support local conservation initiatives.

The benefit of travelling with us is that Secret Paradise guarantees you prompt and efficient personal service. We deliver high standards of service and professionalism and you can rely on Secret Paradise to provide expert local knowledge, clear communication and honest advice.

www.secretparadise.mv

A New Wave of Ocean Protection

Support Project AWARE®’s next wave of ocean protection with your PADI® Member Renewal

With 25 years of ocean conservation successes fueled by an incredible network of supporters, governments, businesses, NGOs and conservation partners, Project AWARE has much to celebrate with PADI Members.

To highlight this incredible milestone and join in the celebrations, PADI is launching a special limited edition Project AWARE card – The 25 Years of Partnership for Ocean Protection limited edition card is available to PADI Pros from October 2017 and will be available to student divers throughout 2018 when it launches in January.

Two Ways to Support Project AWARE’s Next Wave of Ocean Conservation

  • Choose the new 25 Years of Partnership for Ocean Protection limited edition card as your PADI Membership card

  • Donate to Project AWARE with your PADI Member Renewal today!

Go to the PADI Pros’ Site to update your credit or debit card details and add your donation to support Project AWARE’s critical conservation work!

Your support gives the ocean a voice, help secure important policy advancements to keep shark and ray populations healthy and protect marine life from the onslaught of marine debris.

Special Offer: Limited Edition Project AWARE 25th Anniversary Mask Strap

Project AWARE’s special 25th Anniversary limited edition mask strap is now available as a special thank you gift when donating through your PADI member renewal. The gift is available to any PADI member donating $25/€15/£15 or more.

2017 AWARE Week

We are excited to invite you to join the 2017 AWARE Week!  This event celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Project AWARE® and helps end the year with a celebration of our oceans through lots of positive actions including fundraising and ocean awareness events as well as having a whole lot of diving fun! In addition to supporting ocean conservation, it will also give you the opportunity to generate additional business.

Click here for the 2017 AWARE Week landing page to learn more about this event.  You will also find a link to download a Marketing Toolkit full of resources to help you get your event set up and to ensure it is a great success.

As part of 2017 AWARE Week, our goal is to set a record number of Project AWARE courses taught! To help you conduct these courses, you’ll find the all new Project AWARE Specialty Lesson Guides in the Marketing Toolkit, along with the latest copy of the Project AWARE Specialty Instructor Guide.  Remember, you can also download the optional student manual – “AWARE – Our World Our Water” free of charge.

In addition to running a Project AWARE course there are other ways to take part in the 2017 AWARE Week – think outside the box and have fun with your ocean protection!  Below are some ideas to kick start planning for this event:

  • Run some clean-ups in your area or at your local dive sites
  • Run some Project AWARE Courses, for example, Dive Against Debris® and AWARE Shark Conservation
  • Offer a free of charge Project AWARE course as part of a Master Scuba Diver package
  • Include the Dive Against Debris certification together with your Advanced Open Water courses
  • Hold a seminar or a talk for your Club members to give them further education and information on Project AWARE’s conservation work and how they can get involved
  • Put together some Christmas Goodie Stocking Fillers to sell and donate some of the profits to Project AWARE
  • Run a kids program, get them into the water for a Bubblemaker and get them excited about learning more about marine life and how they can be an Ocean Protector
  • Run a Social Media competition for the best photograph/video of marine life/example of debris in the water
  • Run a Social Media competition for the biggest fundraiser, possibly offer them a discount on equipment/servicing/next diving course/free dive centre t-shirt
  • Take on a fundraising challenge of your choice (cake sale, 5k run, etc.) and start your 2017 AWARE Week online fundraising page.

Be sure to promote this on all your Social Media platforms to show your divers what you are doing and how they can get involved. Use #2017AWAREWeek on your social media channels to collate your efforts and generate a great shout-out for Ocean Protection. To help you market your Project AWARE courses and events you will also find Facebook banners and email headers within the Marketing Toolkit.

We look forward to hearing about your plans for this event and are sure you will have a lot of fun with it too!

7 reasons Fulidhoo Island in the Maldives is a dream diving destination

A Maldivian island that’s within easy access from the international airport, but feels remote? It seems almost impossible to find these days. But Fulidhoo Island in Vaavu Atoll is quickly garnering a reputation for being convenient yet secluded. The island is a fantastic base to explore an atoll offering some of the country’s best channel dives and the chance to dive with up to 100 nurse sharks at night. And with rooms starting at 40 US dollars, there’s really no reason not to go. But if you still need convincing, here’s seven reasons why it should be your next diving destination.

Fulidhoo Island Maldives

1. It costs 3.5 US dollars to get there from Male

No, that’s not a typo – you did read that correctly; it costs less than the price of a Starbucks coffee to get to Fulidhoo from the capital. Thanks to the government-subsidised public ferry that departs from Male three times a week, tourists can get to Fulidhoo for virtually nothing. The journey takes three and a half hours, but it’s scenic and comfortable, and there are snacks on board. It even has a sundeck for dolphin watching! Oh, and for those who prefer their transfers a little quicker, there are daily speedboats to the island for around 50 dollars per person that take an hour.

2. Vaavu Atoll is channel diving, sharky heaven

Throughout the Maldives, the passes that cut through the atolls’ barrier reefs are where the real pelagic action is found. Reef sharks, schools of trevallies and barracudas congregate here to hunt. And if the Maldives is known for its channels, then Vaavu Atoll, where Fulidhoo is located, is the country’s channel diving capital. There are dozens of channels in the atoll promising high adrenaline diving.

Shark diving with Fulidhoo Dive Maldives

3. Accommodation on the island is seriously affordable

Whereas resort islands in the Maldives charge eye-watering prices for just one night, because Fulidhoo is a local, inhabited island, divers can find accommodation in one of its small guesthouses for around 50 dollars a night for two people, including breakfast, even during high season. You can expect comfortable, clean, air-conditioned rooms, often with a sea view. And because Fulidhoo is so small, even the furthest guesthouse is only a 5-minute walk to the jetty.

Best local island dive centre

4. The island is famous for its beautiful lagoon and strong cultural traditions

Even among Maldivians, Fulidhoo has a reputation for being extremely beautiful. Vaavu is affectionately known as ‘Wow Atoll’ by locals. There’s no harbour, only a small wooden pier, so the beach is uninterrupted. The shallow lagoon stretches out far from the island and is a great place for kids to play, or to kayak. In fact, the island was recently voted Top Island 2017 at the annual Maldives Guesthouses Conference. And in the evening, divers can enjoy watching the locals play bodu beru (‘big drums’) and performing cultural dances – they’re famous for keeping local traditions alive.

5. You can dive with up to 100 nurse sharks at night

Vaavu Atoll’s most famous dive site is Alimatha House Reef, where divers can get extremely close to the resident nurse sharks and stingrays. As divers kneel on the sandy bottom, it’s not uncommon to see these harmless sharks squeeze between their legs or flop down beside them – it’s truly a bucket list experience!

6. You’ll often be the only divers on the dive site

Unlike South Male Atoll and Ari Atoll, Vaavu is home to only two resorts and only a handful of local islands, which means that the dive sites are far, far quieter. Similarly, liveaboards often head straight to Alimatha for a night dive and are in Ari Atoll by the following morning. All this means that for the most part, the northern part of Vaavu Atoll feels remote and unexplored, despite being extremely accessible.

Fulidhoo Dive Centre Maldives

7. From Fulidhoo, you can dive both the eastern and western sides of the atoll

There are two seasons in the Maldives. The Iruvai season, which runs from November to April, is when the wind generally blows from the North East and brings a hot, dry climate and the best conditions for diving. The Hulhangu season, from May to October, is generally seen as the low-season for diving, with chances of rain, wind and reduced visibility. However, during this season you can still get very good viz on the western edge of the atolls, which is when the location of Fulidhoo comes into play. Because the island is located on the northern tip of the atoll, depending on the wind, divers can enjoy dives with good visibility and good, incoming current throughout the year.

About the author: Adele Verdier-Ali is the co-owner of Fulidhoo Dive, alongside Maldivian PADI Staff Instructor Ali Miuraj. Fulidhoo Dive is a 5-Star PADI Dive Centre, and the only dive centre in Fulidhoo. For more information, visit www.fulidhoodive.com or drop them a line at hello@fulidhoodive.com.

 

 

Things you should know if you are travelling to the Maldives on a budget

This blog has several parts, next week read about money and taxes……

With the advent of local island guesthouses and low cost flight carriers there has never been a more affordable time to travel to the Maldives. At Male International airport it is becoming a far more common sight to see guests arriving with backpacks and not matching Louis Vuitton luggage. These travellers are here to experience a destination previously perceived to be only for those seeking luxury. So maybe it’s time you considered putting the Maldives on your travel map!

Whilst budget travel in the Maldives is a growing sector of the tourism industry there still remains limited information available for would be travelers and backpackers. So the team at Secret Paradise put our heads together to provide what we feel are the Top 10 tips every budget traveler should be aware of.

Clearing Immigration and security

To enter the Maldives no pre-arrival visa is required, a thirty day free visa is issued on arrival to all nationalities, provided the following conditions are met:

Be holding a valid passport (requires to be valid for 6 months from date of arrival) and have a valid ticket to continue your journey out of the Maldives

Confirmation of a reservation in a tourist resort or a hotel either in the form of a hotel voucher or online reservation and have enough funds to cover the expenses for the duration of your stay (US$100 + $50 dollars per day)

The right to refuse entry lies at the discretion of the Immigration official, so make it easier for yourself and organise your accommodation prior to your arrival. Online sites such as Booking.Com, Airbnb and Trip Advisor are a great place to start or if you are looking for more of an experience and not just accommodation contact Secret Paradise.

Once you have cleared immigration, collect your luggage and enter the arrivals hall where a representative of the guesthouse or resort should be waiting for you. Importing goods such as alcohol, pork items, pornography, idols of worship and narcotics into the Maldives is strictly forbidden. To make life easier declare the Buddha that you have purchased in Sri Lanka and the bottle of vodka picked up in duty free, the authorities will hold any items declared or undeclared for you to collect as you depart at the end of your stay.

to be continued………

 

About Secret Paradise

Since 2012 Secret Paradise has been at the forefront of the Maldives local island tourism industry, promoting and supporting guesthouses, dive centres and activity operators based on locally inhabited islands throughout the Maldives archipelago. Offering group and private tours or independent travel packages, Secret Paradise holidays are designed to allow guests to engage with local people and experience the best from a paradise generally known as a luxury resort destination.

Responsible Tourism plays a very large part in what we do. We are mindful of ensuring we promote local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs and through education of both guests and locals we aim to protect the environment and limit where ever possible any negative impact to local life. We partner NGOs such as Save the Beach and marine charity organisations such as Maldives Whaleshark Research Program to provide opportunities for our guests to learn and support local conservation initiatives.

The benefit of travelling with us is that Secret Paradise guarantees you prompt and efficient personal service. We deliver high standards of service and professionalism and you can rely on Secret Paradise to provide expert local knowledge, clear communication and honest advice.

www.secretparadise.mv

 

Coral Reef Research at Gili Lankanfushi Maldives

We encourage scientists to visit Gili Lankanfushi to share their knowledge with the Marine Biology team and carry out in-depth research of our local environment.

In an ever changing world, research is an important method of tracking environmental fluctuations and sharing information about our surroundings. After the coral bleaching event of 2016, Gili Lankanfushi wanted to learn more about the damage caused to our beautiful house reef. We hosted a team of experts funded by Rufford Small Grants Foundation, Chiara Pisapia, Dr Morgan Pratchett, and Deborah Burn who assessed the changes on the reef.  They focused on coral cover, coral size, and the number of young corals that have grown on the reef since the bleaching. Morgan Pratchett, the leading expert in Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) Ancanthaster planci, also monitored the size, sex and distribution of COTS.

 

The team carried out an initial study in the Maldives in 2016 and then returned to the same sites in 2017 in order to carefully assess any changes in their original findings.  On Gili Lankanfushi’s house reef, the team carried out line surveys at five and ten metres along the drop off and found that after the bleaching, coral cover has dropped to 6% at five metres and 2% at ten metres. This low coral cover is predominantly due to the ocean warming event in addition to COTS predation. Yet, in comparison with other study sites, Gili Lankanfushi had a higher number of coral recruits than expected which means new coral is beginning to grow again on the shallow section of our reef. This results from the hard work of Gili’s Team.

Dr Morgan Pratchett, collected data on COTS around the resort.  Despite their beautiful appearance, COTS are far less captivating once you understand the threat they pose to a struggling reef. They eat the remaining hard corals and new coral recruits. Over the past year, their population has spiked into an ‘outbreak’ therefore they have to be removed from the reef and our team works tirelessly to find each individual. Morgan brought COTS to Gili Veshi, our Marine Biology Lab, to teach us techniques on how to better understand these starfish. By dissecting individuals Morgan was able to show our team the interior of each specimen and explain if the animal was well fed or reproductive.  We were able to highlight certain features under the microscope.  We found the starfish living on our house reef were starving and not yet reproducing which leads us to believe the outbreak is over.

 

The aim of monitoring our house reef over time is to predict and track recovery of different species. We are extremely grateful to the knowledge shared by Chiara, Morgan and Deborah hope they can visit the resort again in 2018 to assess how much our reef has recovered.  We look forward to their return.

PADI’s guest blogger Clare Baranowski introduces herself:

I am a marine zoologist from the UK who has worked throughout the tropics researching mega fauna and reef ecosystems in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. I have experience monitoring and restoring coral and surveying manta, turtle and dolphin populations. I began my career as a science communicator before moving into research and management roles, this is why I incorporate outreach and education into every project I work on and I hope to continue this at Gili Lankanfushi.

 

 

2017 AWARE Week UK

We are excited to invite you to join the 2017 AWARE Week UK!  This event celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Project AWARE® and helps end the year with a celebration of our oceans through lots of positive actions including fundraising and ocean awareness events as well as having a whole lot of diving fun! In addition to supporting ocean conservation, it will also give you the opportunity to generate additional business during the quieter months leading up to Christmas.

Click here for the 2017 AWARE Week UK landing page to learn more about this event.  You will also find a link to download a Marketing Toolkit full of resources to help you get your event set up and to ensure it is a great success.

As part of 2017 AWARE Week UK, our goal is to set a record number of Project AWARE courses taught in the UK! To help you conduct these courses, you’ll find the all new Project AWARE Specialty Lesson Guides in the Marketing Toolkit, along with the latest copy of the Project AWARE Specialty Instructor Guide.  Remember, you can also download the optional student manual – “AWARE – Our World Our Water” free of charge.

In addition to running a Project AWARE course there are other ways to take part in the 2017 AWARE Week UK – think outside the box and have fun with your ocean protection!  Below are some ideas to kick start planning for this event:

  • Run some clean-ups in your area or at your local dive sites
  • Run some Project AWARE Courses, for example, Dive Against Debris® and AWARE Shark Conservation
  • Offer a free of charge Project AWARE course as part of a Master Scuba Diver package
  • Include the Dive Against Debris certification together with your Advanced Open Water courses
  • Hold a seminar or a talk for your Club members to give them further education and information on Project AWARE’s conservation work and how they can get involved
  • Put together some Christmas Goodie Stocking Fillers to sell and donate some of the profits to Project AWARE
  • Run a kids program, get them into the water for a Bubblemaker and get them excited about learning more about marine life and how they can be an Ocean Protector
  • Run a Social Media competition for the best photograph/video of marine life/example of debris in the water
  • Run a Social Media competition for the biggest fundraiser, possibly offer them a discount on equipment/servicing/next diving course/free dive centre t-shirt
  • Take on a fundraising challenge of your choice (cake sale, 5k run, etc.) and start your AWARE Week UK online fundraising page here.

Be sure to promote this on all your Social Media platforms to show your divers what you are doing and how they can get involved. Use #AWAREWeekUK on your social media channels to collate your efforts and generate a great shout-out for Ocean Protection in the UK. To help you market your Project AWARE courses and events you will also find Facebook banners and email headers within the Marketing Toolkit.

We look forward to hearing about your plans for this event and are sure you will have a lot of fun with it too!

Recognizing Acute Lung Conditions

Written by DAN Staff

Acute lung conditions are some of the most dramatic and life-threatening injuries found in the diving environment. As a dive professional, you need to be able to quickly recognize and react to them. Acute pulmonary conditions require prompt care because they can have serious and long-lasting effects. Here are some of the most common lung conditions faced by divers:

Immersion Pulmonary Edema (IPE)

IPE is one of several lung conditions that could affect divers who are or were recently submerged. Common symptoms of IPE are chest pain, frothy pink sputum and difficult or labored breathing.

A form of pulmonary edema, IPE is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs caused in part by immersion in water. IPE occurs when the opposing pressures of fluid surrounding the lungs are out of equilibrium and excess fluid builds up in the pulmonary tissues. Immersion in water can increase the fluid pressure in the capillaries surrounding the lungs, and this pressure differential can be exacerbated by a number of risk factors, leading to an increased risk of edema. By addressing common risk factors such as overhydration, overexertion and hypertension, as well as obesity, divers can reduce the risk of IPE occurring.

Pulmonary Overinflation Syndrome

This condition is typically the result of air expanding during ascent either trapped in a segment of the lungs or due to breathhold. Overinflation can result in a lung barotrauma, which may manifest in a pneumothorax, mediastinal emphysema or an arterial gas embolism. You know that lung overexpansion risk can be reduced by ensuring student divers are medically fit to dive, know how to maintain an open airway and avoid rapid ascents.

Deep_Oxygen

Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

PE is another dangerous pulmonary condition that can occur unrelated to diving but may mimic a dive injury. It involves the blockage of blood flow in pulmonary system vessels by fat or blood clots. Pulmonary embolisms typically result in a significant drop in blood pressure and cardiac output. Common symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are chest pain, distension of the neck veins, an altered level of consciousness or fainting. If a diver shows any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Acute PE often results in noticeable symptoms, but the slow onset of chronic PE may go unnoticed. Risk factors include recent surgery, heart disease, obesity, smoking and hypertension.

All cases of suspected pulmonary injury should receive a thorough medical evaluation due to of the risk of after-accident complications. For more information on lung health and diving, visit: DAN.org/Health

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Jumpstart Your Holiday Game Plan

Written by Megan Denny

According to a 2017 study published by Forbes, consumers plan to spend more on holiday gifts in 2017 than they did in 2016. If you don’t already have a plan to cash in on this holiday spending, here are a few proven techniques to encourage customers to give the gift of diving.

GiftOfDiving

Inspire Customers

Use your email newsletter and social media channels to promote your top gift ideas for scuba divers (male and female), and don’t forget about scuba-related gift ideas for kids. When customers can knock out a large chunk of their holiday shopping at your dive center, everyone wins.

Bundle Items to Discourage Price Comparison

The number of people who purchase holiday gifts online grows year after year, but only a small percentage of consumers buy 100 percent of their gifts online. Strategic pricing and promotions can prevent showrooming and give you a bigger slice of the holiday shopping pie.

Bundling products together makes price comparison (and therefore showrooming) a challenge. When you bundle a mask/fin/snorkel set with a gear bag and free defog for 20 percent off MSRP, it will be very difficult to compare your price with an online retailer. Combining training with gear is another way to prevent comparison shopping, such as packaging a camera and digital underwater photo course.

DSAT Dive Day 2008

Highlight Local Expertise

If your dive staff wear a particular brand of BCD, wetsuit, dry suit or other gear, be sure visitors to your store know why. For example, a lightweight BCD may not have sufficient lift for someone who dives in cold water in a dry suit or thick wetsuit. Or, some dive computers may have a small display that’s hard to read underwater.

The average diver walking into your store may not think of these things. Post gear reviews or small signs with bullet points highlighting the features and benefits of your favorite products – these can act as a  “silent salesperson.” Be sure staff are trained to explain the consequences of going with the least expensive item when it does not meet the diver’s needs.

Include a Warm and Fuzzy Feeling with Every Purchase

One way to encourage divers to spend their holiday cash with you is to partner with a local charity. Offer to donate a portion of sales, host a canned food drive, or promote the charitable work you and your staff do year-round in the community. Ensure your charity partner cross-promotes your business in their email newsletters and on social media.

Another option is to give a little something to the gift giver. For example, if shoppers spend $250 US or more in one transaction, give them a $25 US gift card to use in 2018.

Offer a Flexible Return Policy

In 2016, 22 percent of shoppers backed out of a holiday purchase due to an inconvenient return policy (source NRF). Post signs explaining your return policy in prominent areas near the register, on a mirror or on the changing room door.

GearPackage_PADIDiveShop_0513_0067

Invite Customers to Create an Online Wish List

Online wish lists allow consumers to type or copy/paste links to products they would like to receive as gifts. Gift givers can search for wish lists using their friend or family member’s email address.

There are several websites that allow customers to create and share wish lists. One option is Giftster, a free wish list creation site with a group function (designed for families) that could also work for dive shops. After creating a group, type in email addresses to invite people to create a wish list. If your website is powered by Shopify, wish list plugins are available.

Holiday Sales Bring in Big Returns

For many retailers, 20 percent of their annual income comes from holiday sales. Taking time to promote gift ideas and creating packages can pay significant dividends. The sooner you start, the greater the returns will be.