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April 1997 Vol. 23, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Diver Error or Design?

from the April, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

While most of us think that these errors are someone else's and not ours, we should at least be troubled by the 15 incidents of spontaneous jacket inflation and the 5 jammed inflators. In a study done by Bob Halstead on the live-aboard Telita, 28 percent of 265 divers who filled out his questionnaire reported having experienced BC failure through leakage or continuous inflation. Of course, we hope that we would have the presence of mind simply to disconnect the inflator hose from the power inflator.

Better yet, service the inflator when you service your regulator, always rinse it in fresh water after a dive, and make sure it works during your pre-dive check. I called three dive stores; all reported numerous BC failures and suggested annual service.

What the study doesn't address at all is the design of the equipment. I've always thought that BC inflator design could use an overhaul. In 1989 we gave our annual tongue-in-cheek Urchin award to the now-defunct manufacturer Tekna for its BC design. The inflate and deflate buttons were located within a quarter of an inch of each other, were identical in size and shape, and were both operated by pushing down with the thumb. Not to worry, said Tekna: "One button is light blue, the other darker blue."

J. Q.

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