It’s not a condom and not the camera…
Hear this product name, “CO-PRO” and you may think of “that camera”. See the package and you may think “condom?” Even though the marketing team creatively plays on the latter, what you need to know is that the CO-PRO one of the least expensive products in scuba designed to save your life. At only $7.95 retail this little packet can insure you are not diving a deadly mixture. The CO-PRO Carbon Monoxide Protection (from Lawrence Factor, Inc.), while obviously not a direct analog of it’s closest competitor, is only 2% of the cost. It completely eliminates the barriers to having a CO testing option on your next vacation.
Every year we hear reports of diver deaths or near-deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. And though the incidents are mostly occurring in destinations with lax regulations or on live-aboard dive charter (with exhausts near compressors), CO can be a problem anywhere. Our past research has taught that any dive shop, no matter how diligent can have a bad air day. The more I learn how to diligently care for our shop’s own dive compressors, I am amazed that there are not more reports of diving gas related incidents.
In case you have forgotten about CO from your dive class, carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. You cannot rely on smelling or tasting your air to tell you if it is safe.
Another fascinating pattern we find in the media coverage of diver’s CO deaths is that always seem to mention the high priced and professional CO testing options (Analox EII CO Carbon Monoxide Analyzer) starting at around $350. But we have not seen one article that mentions this low cost solution.
Nothing here should be taken to suggest that Analox or other reusable options are not fine products. If you have the money and dive enough they are certainly a great choice. But at $7.95 it’s a safe bet that I am not going on my next dive trip without a CO-PRO. Every safety professional knows that no matter how valuable a piece of safety equipment is, consumers will still make buy/not buy decisions on pricing.
How It Works:
So maybe it was just gutsy and not so creative to compare CO-PRO to a condom. There is a resemblance. When you open that package you get a balloon that goes on the shaft of a tank valve. You also find as sensor button and easy to follow instructions including the (shown here) chart to compare the results of the test. You simply put the button in the balloon, the balloon on the tank valve, fill the balloon and wait five to ten minutes (depends on the CO concentration) and compare the disk to the chart. We recently ran a test on a small and fast moving dive boat in La Paz (location of recent CO diver death) .
One CO-PRO tester can be used on many tanks on one day as long as no CO is detected.
Wild Marketing and Market Penetration …
As we mentioned the packaging, video and much of the products marketing collateral plays on the condom analogy with terms like “dive safe” and the question in the video of “do you use protection?” However, there could be a downside to all this fun. We have seen and spoke with divers that actually looked at the display and thought we were really giving away condoms.
One of the first questions dive shop owners ask about new products is, “how much is the initial order.” We applaud the Lawrence Factor team for their out-of-box solution to this issue. The initial point of purchase display and product are FREE TO DIVE SHOPS. With a single phone call they will send you a display and product for no charge at all.
If you mostly fill your tanks at a trusted and tested local dive shop, the video may be a bit overzealous in suggesting you use CO-PRO before every dive . But when traveling, we can’t imagine any reason why any diver wouldn’t want to have the CO-PRO handy.
CO-PRO was our DEMA 2010 best in category winner and we still think this product should be every divers save-a-dive kit.
CO-PRO was also reviewed by Jill Heinerth on her Rebreather Pro website (http://www.rebreatherpro.com/2012/05/are-you-protected-never-dive-without-protection.html) and Danielle’s Dives at http://daniellesdives.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/danielles-review-co-pro/