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How to prevent cold stress in commercial diving

Now that winter is over, many commercial divers in Louisiana may find themselves returning to work very soon. Even though the water is starting to get warmer, it will still be a while before we get those optimal summer temperatures. Until then, divers could have a high risk of developing cold stress on the job.

Too much exposure to cold water can result in hypothermia, decompression illness and other harmful diseases. Divers need to make sure that they are physically prepared for the water and know what to do in a potential cold stress emergency. If you’re scheduled to go underwater in the next few months, keep these tips in mind:

Wear the right gear

Your protection from cold stress hinges upon what you choose to wear in the water. During the colder days, your standard wetsuit may not suffice. If you want to go deep, you need to put on a wetsuit that is thicker that contains accessories to better ensure your thermal protection. Some of these accessories include a machine that pumps hot water, gloves and boots.

You will also need to stay warm once you’re outside the water, especially on the darker and windier days of the job. Once you are out of the water, change quickly into dry and warmer clothing. Keeping on the wetsuit when you don’t need it on will only make you colder.

Know when to quit

Many commercial drivers only see signs of cold stress as minor inconveniences. Experienced workers often cite that plenty of divers suffer because they don’t want to admit they feel cold, potentially out of fear for how it would look on their performance review or so they can get the job done faster.

Divers can start feeling cold if there’s a sudden temperature shift in their area or their suit malfunctions. If they feel their body temperatures dropping fast and experience cold stress symptoms such as shivering, numbness and their body functions slowing down, they need to get back to the surface as soon as they can. Underwater coworkers and the top-side crew on communication duty should also look or listen for divers that are suffering from the cold.

Experiencing severe cold stress on the job can put divers in a rough state well after they are away from Louisiana’s water. If you or a loved one struggle to return to work after a close call, contact a maritime injury attorney for additional assistance in recovery.