Best Way To Transport Scuba Tanks

Last Updated: September 27, 2023

Scuba tank is the most significant equipment needed for deep underwater diving. When transporting scuba tanks be sure to take the proper precautions.

Scuba tanks are at risk the most when loading and unloading from a vehicle. It’s critical to keep them secure, within a normal temperature range, and empty so that they’re less likely to break or leak while in transit. And to minimize damage both to your scuba equipment as well as any potential accidents with other vehicles on the road.

Most often the air cylinders are carried by hand, especially to and from a vehicle and the dock. The best way to carry it is by forming a “V” with your index and second finger around the valve stem.

Transporting Diving Cylinders

transporting diving cylinders

The transport of the scuba gear may seem like most commonly insignificant thing, but it must be done correctly and safely. Therefore, a lot of attention needs to be given to ensure its proper transportation.

It is fundamentally done by hand when it’s nearby, also known as small distance transportation. However, remember that this is the final stage when the cylinders are getting transported to the desired place.

Most transportation happens either by car or airplane. So the tanks go through many steps when getting shipped from one place to another.

Transportation by Car

Carrying the cylinders in a car is the mostly used method but its not an easy job. There are specific methods to keep in mind while transporting via a vehicle. Whele carrying compressed air in cars, the process needs to be organized properly to avoid any damage.

A cylinder weighs somewhere between 26 and 40 pounds (around 15 kilograms on average). So they are pretty heavy and it gets hard when you need to carry a bunch of them. In the process, it could fall and get damaged. That is the last thing you would want.

So, it would help if you made sure that from loading into the car to the unloading part, all the necessary precautions and factors are taken care of.

Loading the Cylinders

They need to be loaded very carefully. Firstly, check how much air is in the scuba tank, and if any, turn the control knob to drain the cylinders. Tanks containing the compressed air need to be sealed properly so that they do not explode or get damaged. Fixing them and making sure they cannot move is the best thing to do.

Recommended Read: What To Do With Old Scuba Tanks?

There are several ways one can secure the tanks. For instance, divers can use their belt to fix them and place cardboard between the cylinders. Then, the position of the valves should be correctly pointing upright towards the front. Bubble wrap it tightly so that it cannot move at all while you are driving.

Can You Leave Scuba Tanks in a Car?

Well, it can be dangerous, but the answer is yes. When it’s not too hot, you can leave your tanks in the car. But make sure to store them out of direct sunlight or cover them with something. Avoid leaving fully pressurized tanks in the car for long periods when its really hot outside – it could cause damage and make a mess inside your ride.

Transportation For Private Individuals

diver with air tank

If the driver is transporting diving cylinders for himself, the rules are different.

According to the ADR in Europe, a single diver who carries a scuba tank for his own use in his car is not a hazardous/dangerous goods transporter, but a private individual and is therefore exempted from those regulations.

The bottles in the car are to be secured and provided with good ventilation expected to be present in the vehicle. Private owners should carry proper verification before transportation.

The measures for a business or an organization are quite different than for individuals. There is an exemption limit of 1,000 litres of total volume of air, nitrox and oxygen. Such transport doesn’t have to be marked as of dangerous goods, but a transport document is necessary so it can get easily verified.

However, basic rules for loading and unloading the cylinders are the same and should be done correctly. They should be stored safely, and a danger label can be added onto them. This would caution people who do checks and also help you facilitate the transportation easily.

Choosing the Best Car For Scuba Diving

Ensure that a car which is safe and provides good ventilation is used. The ventilation space in the car is essential as the temperature is supposed to be maintained to prevent it from damages. If the cars get heated up, it could prove damaging for the tank.

The best car for the purpose of transporting dive tanks would likely be a van with a rack system that doesn’t weigh too much and can secure the cylinders at the same time. For example, cars like Toyota Tacoma or Honda Element would be great, as they have enough capacity for 2-3 people’s worth of diving gear.

Avoid placing any items on or near the cylinders. The ideal car should also provide a smooth drive and easy transportation even while coming across bumps on the road.

Unloading the Cylinders

First, examine the tanks thoroughly to check for any damage. While opening the car, you need to be careful not to let any cylinders fall off or get loosened. There is a probability of this happening as you are transporting them in a moving vehicle.

Insert your fingers carefully to the valve, lift it from the bottom using your other hand. Careful handling while unloading is crucial as the pressure in any way should not be getting released.

Then, disentangle the gear and then unload it properly by hand. Examine the cylinder again for any leaks. Also, check if the knob is still in the same position as you left it while loading.

Transportation By Planes

While the transportation of the cylinders by planes is not preferred, still it is done to facilitate long-distance shipment. International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have introduced many guidelines for the same.

The compressed gas contained inside should be nonflammable and nontoxic. It will be branded as hazardous if it crosses 20 degrees. The pressurized tanks are not allowed to be carried. The tanks should not be filled up and should be given for approval at the airport so that they are properly examined.

The exception to this is the tanks with medical options, and also, the ones made from aluminum that need extra protection. You need to provide a valid certificate, like the hydrostatic test, for the shipment to take place smoothly. This certificate must also comply to the individual’s national regulations.

You may also want to read: Do Scuba Tanks Float?

Final Thoughts

While scuba diving lets you have lots of fun, transporting diving cylinders is no fun at all. The process of transportation of compressed air needs a lot of time, care, and effort. It must be guaranteed that the tanks are safely delivered.

The car is the most favored shipping mode for private individuals. Renting the air tanks and other scuba equipment can be done to avoid the hassle.

Following the correct methods for transportation is vital to save yourself and others from disaster. The compressed tanks contain hazardous gases, and hence the vehicle’s pressure and temperature should not get high and needs to be properly maintained.

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