Predive Procedures

11-3.1 Personnel Considerations. The supervisor of the dive must ensure that all personnel required to make the dive have been properly trained in ice diving techniques and are physically fit. No diver may be allowed to make the dive if, in the opinion of the Diving Supervisor, the diver is suffering from the psychological stress of an ice dive (anxiety, claustrophobia, or recklessness).

11-3.2 Dive Site Selection Considerations. The selection of the dive site will depend upon the purpose of the dive and the geographical environment of the area (ice thickness, ice surface conditions, etc.). Additionally, the diving method chosen, safe access routes, shelter location, emergency holes, and exposure of divers and required support personnel will also have a bearing on site selection.

11-3.3 Shelter. When ice diving is conducted, a shelter must be erected as close as possible to the diving site to reduce the probability of frostbite and equipment freeze-up. Normally, tents are not placed over the dive hole because they would restrict the movement of tenders and light available to the diver. However, a windbreak should be constructed. A shelter of modular tents and space heaters is ideal; although precautions must be taken to ensure that the ice beneath the shelter is not weakened. Extreme caution must be used when diving for objects, such as downed aircraft, that have fallen through the ice; the area around the original hole may be dangerously weakened.

11-3.4 Entry Hole. Proper equipment should be used to cut a suitable hole or holes through the ice in order to leave a clean edge around the hole. Using a sledgehammer to break through the ice is not recommended as it will weaken the surrounding ice. The hole should be a rectangle 6 feet by 3 feet, or a triangle with six-foot sides as shown in Figure 11-2. The triangular hole is easier to cut and is large enough to allow simultaneous exit by two divers. Slush and ice must be removed from the hole, not pushed under the ice surface, as it could slip back and block the hole. To assist exiting divers and improve footing for other team members on the ice surface, sand or burlap bags should be placed on the ice around the hole. Upon completing the dive, the hole must be clearly marked to prevent anyone from falling in accidentally. When possible, the pieces cut from the ice should be replaced to speed up the refreezing process.

11-3.5 Escape Holes. Escape holes provide alternative exit points and aid in searching for a lost diver. Downstream escape holes or emergency exit holes must be cut in the ice when diving in a river or bay where there is a current or tidal stream.

11-3.6 Navigation Lines. A weighted line should be hung through the hole to aid the diver in retaining his bearing and sense of direction. Suspending a light at the end of the line may be helpful, as well as attaching a series of strobe lights to indicate depth. After locating the work site, a distance line should be laid from the weighted line to the work site. Another method of aiding the diver in keeping his bearings in clear water is to shovel off the snow cover on the ice around the dive site in the form of a spoked wheel (see Figure 11-2). When the ice and snow cover is less than 2 feet thick, the diver should be able to see the spokes leading to the dive hole located at the center of the wheel. The wheel should have a minimum diameter of 60 feet.

11-3.7 Lifelines. Diver tending lines are mandatory when diving under ice to help the diver relocate the entrance hole. A polypropylene braided or twisted line has proven to be the best lifeline. It has the advantage of floating up and away from the diver and is available in yellow, white, and orange for high visibility. A bowline or a D-ring and snap hook spliced into the lifeline is the easiest method of attaching the lifeline to the diver. The attachment of the lifeline on both ends must be absolutely secure. Do not tie the line to a vehicle, shovel, first-aid box, or other portable equipment. A 4-inch by 4-inch by 2-foot board placed under the ice several yards away from the dive hole can be used to secure the bitter end of the lifeline (see Figure 11-2). The D-ring and snap hook allow the quickest transfer of

Figure 11-2. Typical Ice Diving Worksite.

the lifeline from diver to diver on the surface, provided the snap hooks are not frozen shut. The snap hooks should be checked for corrosion at frequent intervals. A wet lifeline must be kept off the bare ice to prevent it from freezing to the surface.

11-3.8 Equipment Preparation. The diver must wear a distress light that should be turned on upon entering the water. Divers should not be encumbered with unnecessary equipment during cold water dives. Snorkels should be removed and knives worn on the inside of the leg to help prevent the lifeline from snagging on the diver's equipment. Personnel, divers, and tenders must handle rubber accessories such as masks and fins carefully; extreme cold causes them to become brittle.

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