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BASIC MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR SNORKELING

BASIC MINUMUM STANDARDS FOR SNORKELING

1. Introduction

a. Snorkeling is an aquatic activity that allows people to interact with the marine world. When done correctly, it is enjoyable, fulfilling, and safe. However, a number of precautions need to be taken to ensure quality in execution.

b. For practical reasons, the term ‘snorkeling’ excludes snorkeling that occurs before or after a SCUBA dive begins or ends. It refers exclusively to swimming at the surface with a snorkel, mask and fins

2. Instructors/supervisors : Basic minimum qualifications and experience

a. Each resort/water sports center providing snorkeling activities should have one lifeguard/supervisor monitoring people

b. The supervisor should be a strong swimmer and be trained and certified in Emergency First Response and First Aid / CPR

3. Water sports Center requirements

a. All Centers need to be registered with the local tourist department

b. All centers should be equipped with pure emergency oxygen and have an Emergency

Action Plan ready in case of snorkeling related accidents. The Emergency Action Plan should include mechanisms for:

i. Search and recovery of missing swimmers

ii. Providing First Aid/CPR

iii. Transport to the nearest appropriate medical facility iv. Reporting to the appropriate authorities (police, navy, coast guard, ministry of tourism, etc.)

c. All staff must be familiar with this Emergency Action Plan and be able to act appropriately

d. The centers must have insurance for employees and clients

4. Equipment required

a. Snorkeling Equipment

i. Each center that provides snorkeling activities should have a full set of equipment that matches its capacity. This includes:

1. Masks, both prescription and non-prescription

2. Rash guards and/or wet suits

3. Fins of all sizes

4. Booties to go with the fins

5. Snorkels

6. Emergency signaling devices when required

b. Dive boats/Boats used for snorkeling

i. Boats are the responsibility of the center and the crew ii. Each boat must have at least a crew of 2-3, be dedicated to swimmer safety and support swimmers in any way that they can. It is recommended that the following be present on board:

1. A boat driving/captain’s license from the appropriate authority with significant experience

2. Center staff with adequate knowledge of the snorkeling location or other person approved by the base leader

3. First aid/CPR certificate

4. Oxygen resuscitation and therapy certificate or PADI/DAN Oxygen Provider Course

5. Life jackets for non-swimmers or emergency situations iii. The boats must be able to communicate with the center at all times using a functioning walkie-talkie, phone, radio telephone or other direct communication device

iv. The boats must have enough fuel to make trips to the snorkel sites and back, and accommodate any changes.

v. The boat should be equipped with two engines or have a back up engine in case of engine failure

vi. The center should provide the boat with a spare tank, spare snorkeling equipment, First Aid, Oxygen Kit, a dive flag and a boat ladder that allows easy entry and exit into/from the water.

5. Equipment care and maintenance

a. Equipment should be serviced annually, and should be changed once every five years.

b. Equipment should be washed, dried and checked thoroughly after each use.

6. SOP’s & Operating Instructions

a. Minimum qualifications for snorkelers

i. Swimmers wanting to snorkel must present the following:

1. Recent medical form stating that the person is fit to snorkel, or if the person has medical condition(s) that are contraindicated for snorkeling, then they should produce a certificate from a medical practitioner clearing them to snorkel

2. Assurance that the person can swim and is comfortable in the water, and if not be willing to wear a life jacket for safety

b. Supervision of snorkeling activities

i. It is essential to plan snorkeling trips – the center should be aware of any changes made to the trip plan

ii. A lifeguard/supervisor cannot guide more than 5 people at a time

c. Snorkeling in restricted areas

i. Some parts of the Andaman & Nicobar are patrolled /controlled by the military, navy or other government branches and are off limits to swimmers. It is recommended that the centers consult with the appropriate authorities to find out about possible restrictions

d. Cultural and environmental protection

i. Nothing should be taken from the sea, and particularly not cultural monuments/artifacts

ii. Damaging and extracting cultural monuments is prohibited

iii. Snorkelers must protect the marine environment and its inhabitants. Snorkelers should avoid damaging coral and physical contact with marine animals. Sharks should NOT be fed under any circumstances

iv. Activities detrimental to marine protected areas (MPAs) and protected species are prohibited.

1. Permits to swim / snorkel in MPAs may be required. These should be obtained before swimming in them

7. Documentation

a. Each center/office must have a record of each swimmer, including:
i. Full name and contact information
ii. Emergency contact information
iii. Details of activities that they did
iv. Medical form and liability release waiver
v. All of this information must be kept and maintained by the company for a
minimum of 5 years

8. Risk Mitigation

a. Swimmers should be thoroughly briefed before each trip. The brief should include
information about safety regulations, depth limits, snorkel site characteristics, currents,
entry and exit techniques, environmental considerations and potential hazards
b. The use of a life jacket as a flotation device while snorkeling is mandatory.
c. Solitary snorkeling, in the absence of a ‘buddy’ or supervisor is NOT permitted
d. Centers must be aware of local weather conditions and inform swimmers of special
conditions at each site prior to snorkeling
e. Conditions under which snorkeling is prohibited:
i. Extremely rough waters
ii. During storms
f. It is essential that snorkelers mark their presence clearly. Any boat with snorkelers
operating from it must always have display signals (i.e. flags) by day or night to inform
other boat users
g. The dive flag can be used anywhere where divers or snorkelers are diving and should
always be displayed by boats when swimmers are in the water.

9. Emergencies & Rescues

a. All centers must have an Emergency Action Plan as mentioned in section 3(b)
b. All center staff must be familiar with emergency oxygen equipment, and training
sessions should be provided for all staff annually

10. Safety briefing

a. In addition to a site briefing, all swimmers should receive a safety briefing, detailing
where emergency and first aid equipment are available on the boat. A boat safety
briefing must also be given on boarding the boat.

b. This briefing should be made in addition to the site briefing

11. Medical concerns


a. Each swimmer should fill out a medical form clearing them from conditions that
preclude them from snorkeling. If they do experience these conditions, they should
receive written medical clearance from a practitioner, allowing them to snorkel

12. “Basic Minimum Standards” for grant of recognition to operators

a. The operator should be registered with the local tourism department
b. The staff should meet the qualifications defined in section (2)
c. The center should have a full set of snorkeling equipment for the maximum number of
snorkelers it can service.
d. The operator must have an Emergency Action Plan for which regular training must be
imparted to the staff.