An immersion suit is commonly seen in rescue boats or ships, covering the whole body with the specific purpose of floatation during an emergency. It is considered one of the survival suits that can protect the wearer against dangerous situations in the cold water or rough sea level, making it a necessity among the ships.
Choosing the proper immersion suits is essential in the maritime industry since it is a part of the survival equipment during emergencies in the sea. Several factors need consideration in choosing the right suit, like materials used and if it can withstand extreme situations in the water. Also, choosing a suit that can provide warmth, buoyancy, and an inflatable head pillow for floatation would be ideal.
1.Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Immersion & Survival Suit
The immersion suits approved by Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) are made with waterproof materials with a buoyancy feature on the clothing itself and cover the whole body, exposing only the face. Also, the wearer can jump from a height of 4.5 meters without undue ingress.
2.United States Coast Guard (USCG) Immersion Suits
This immersion suit is commonly seen in commercial fishing vessels. It is part of the survival equipment for ship abandonment in workboats or transport ships.
3.Technical Cooperation Committee (TC) Immersion Suits
The flashing survival light is the most essential feature of an immersion suit approved by TC. Also, the life jacket-styled suit must be quick and easy to install, available in a wide range of sizes, and have coded storage for easier access.
4.Marine Equipment Directive (MED) Immersion Suits
The immersion suit must have an integrated harness for lifting. Also, it must be made with materials that can give protection against hypothermia. And for an easier sighting in the water for the rescuers, it has high visibility features.
Dry and Wet Suits are functional, but there is a line between them, especially regarding their specific purpose. They can have similar features, but their differences can also be noticeable.
In choosing the right immersion suit, two essential factors must be considered: the suit’s materials, buoyancy, thermal insulation, waterproof features, and size details. Here’s a quick compilation of the information about deciding which immersion suit to buy.
Materials Used in Immersion Suits:
The use of neoprene in the maritime industry offered several advantages, especially in the making of immersion suits used as floating survival equipment. It’s the ideal choice when looking for the quality in resistance, flexibility, and durable enough as protection in the water.
Most of the manufacturers of immersion suits consider using Gore-Tex because of how its breathable design. And just like neoprene, it is also waterproof and the wearers can make extra movements with its stretchy fabric panels.
Polyester gives a significant advantage to the maritime industry because of the functions it can offer, starting from its ability to adapt and use as multilayer. Additionally, this material can provide higher thermal protection compared to the rest of the materials mentioned.
The first description for immersion suits is that it floats in the water because of the automatic buoyancy feature provided by the different floatation materials. In the maritime industry, choosing a suit with well-made buoyancy that makes it afloat in the water even without other floatation devices is a good decision.
2.Included Life Jackets
Some of the manufacturers of immersion suits make sure that there is floatation alternatives included in their suits, like life jackets. But the wearer must know how to inflate the suit manually before deciding to purchase one.
Since life jackets are too big as an alternative that offers buoyancy, some manufacturers chose floating collars as another option. It perfectly works in keeping the head of the wearer afloat. To use it, you must manually inflate it once you’re in the water.
The main purpose of immersion suits to the maritime industry is floating survival equipment worn by crew members or passengers during emergency situations. Because of this, it is designed to protect the wearers from hypothermia or the sudden fall in the body temperature. The appropriate detail of the suit is that it can drop a person’s body temperature by more than 2 degrees, especially when it’s floating in the water for hours already.
Aside from the thermal insulation detail, an immersion suit must be made primarily with waterproof materials to keep afloat and prevent the wearer from drowning. The two factors mentioned are essential since they show how an immersion suit can be practical, functional, and ideal.
Every person’s size varies, and it is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an immersion suit. The sizing and fitting must be appropriate to achieve its utmost protection and take advantage of its functions and features. Following the standard and average measurements would be best to avoid further complications and troubles.
For references, check out the sizes and fitting below:
The safety of every crew member or passenger in a ship is the priority during emergencies. Conduct periodic testing and inspection among the suits and double-check if they are still usable. Ensure there are no damages in the suit, like tears and punctures from both the inside and outside, and there is no sign of wetness. Also, immersion suits must be stored in an accessible location. Dry out the suit before rolling it and putting it back in its storage bag.
In cleaning the immersion suit, you start by laying it on a flat and clean surface. Check if the corner from the inside and outside is dry, and when damages are visible, you can count on the repair stations recommended and authorized by the suit manufacturer.
If there are damages in the immersion suits and replacement is needed as a solution, it must be done by a station or facility with enough knowledge and experience in the field. Also, they must know the proper instructions and the details of the parts of the suits according to their manufacturer.
The functions of the immersion suits are essential to the maritime industry and people who are into extreme activities in the water. It only means that a regular inspection and maintenance among the suits must be conducted. Here’s a checklist of what you need to do:
Choosing the right immersion suit depends on where you will use it since some have heavy functions. Conduct a thorough assessment and decide whether you use it in domestic water activity or for emergencies. It would be best to check the details of different manufacturers of immersion suits from the materials they used, buoyancy options, and the durability and resistance against harsh weather.
If you plan to purchase your next set of immersion suits, the price ranges from $180 – $300, depending on the materials used and the quality. However, the prices are in the average factory price, with the approval of several SOLAS, TC, and more standards.
Before placing an order for immersion suits:
One of the best ways to determine if you are buying the right immersion suit is by trying it on to check if it fits perfectly, plus make sure to make an observation on what you feel upon wearing it. Move around assuming you are already in the water and try different movements to see if the suit is flexible enough. Additionally, double-check if the suit meets your preferred materials, designs, and features.
The presence of immersion suits in the ships or vessels as part of survival equipment is very important, not only for emergency situations, but they are also required to be part of the devices used in rescue missions. It would be best to conduct a thorough and well-understood analysis on choosing the appropriate suit for particular purposes and activities to understand the differences in the models and designs.
Additionally, manufacturers are following the standards and regulations of SOLAS, USCG, MED, and TC to get approval whether they are approved or qualified for usage. The reason behind this is because immersion suits must also be highly maintained and regularly inspected to ensure they are still safe to use and function according to their purpose.
Aside from the presence of survival equipment like an immersion suit, it is also vital to have in-depth knowledge and training on accessing, properly wearing, and using the suits, mainly because it might be needed in a life-and-death situation. Crew members of ships must know how to manually operate the suits according to the instructions, particularly in securing the straps, harnesses, and hoses essential in donning the suit. Also, they must provide an introduction about it to their on-boarding passengers.
To end this article, here’s a compilation of a few safety tips when donning an immersion suit: