Hot New Snorkel Mask or Death Mask?
With summer upon us, swimming fashion is ramping up. The hot trend this year? These fancy full-face snorkel masks. Kids can't live without them, it seems. Call it the Tickle Me Elmo of the swimming pool. What's so neat about them? Well, you don't have to worry about a tube to stick in your mouth and hold onto, or water getting inside of it as you dive underwater. These new masks are self-contained and actually drain water from the snorkel as you come up to the surface. It fits tightly against the face, and allows a full view of the underwater world around you.
So what's the deal with the death part? Well, that's just it. People are dying while using them. Some experts say carbon dioxide builds up in the mask due to the seal around the entire face, that's the gas you breathe out by the way. This causes the swimmer to suffocate slowly, sometimes not even realizing it's happening. Children are trying to breathe underwater while swimming and ingesting the water as they breathe in.
I ran across a video from CBS that tells about a man whose wife was a long time swimmer. She got the mask and took off to the open water. A few hours later, they found her body in the water.
I think the mask is neat and with proper supervision and teaching, like with any item we use, it can be used safely and provide lots of fun. Just take some extra time and do some research on how to use it.