Immersion Suit, also names survival suit, is a special waterproof dry suit that protects the wearer from hypothermia in cold water, after abandoning a sinking ship, especially in the ocean. Immersion suit is an important life-saving equipment at the open sea. It can significantly improve survival time in cold water.
Our immersion suits are SOLAS 1974 standard and EC CCS ZY certified. It includes life jacket light, whistle, and stainless steel harness. It’s important to get survival suit if you are in large open water like sea or ocean, including gas & oil rigs, sailing, commercial vessels, etc.
1. What is immersion suit?
2.Immersion suit SOLAS requirement
3.Features to look for an immersion suit
4.Immersion suit donning instructions
5.Care and maintenance of immersion suit
6.Immersion suit related products
Immersion suit, also names survival suit, is one piece wearable in the shape and form of an overall. It is a full body, waterproof and buoyant sea emergency clothing. It covers a person from head to toe leaving no body part exposed except the face.
Immersion suit is worn during high sea emergency situations by the crew for example when a vessel is on the verge of capsizing or sinking and needs to be exited. It is also used in oil rigs. This survival suit increases chances of staying alive in water after jumping ship until rescuers arrive.
Immersion suit’s buoyancy stops the wearer from sinking and keeps them floating face up. Being watertight helps to keep them dry even after the whole body is immersed in water. The wetness from cold water results to body heat loss and is the greatest cause of death at sea due to hypothermia together with sinking.
Immersion suit is waterproof and thus shields the wearer from cold water-body contact. Furthermore, it is also insulated to offer protection from extreme external temperatures such as during a fire.
Due to its lifesaving abilities, the suit also goes by the name survival suit, life suit or rescue suit. The color code is either international fluorescent red or distress orange for enhanced visibility of the survivor to rescue air crafts or ships.
Some immersion suits have a linking chord system to each other to keep a group of survivors floating close together which further improves their chances of being picked by the rescue team.
There are two kinds of immersion suits. The first one is used in domestic voyages and inland waterways where rescue parties don’t take too long to find survivors.
It is commonly made of foamed polyethylene and PVC to offer thermal protection and keep wearers warm when working in cold conditions. This suit is worn throughout and is common with deep-sea fishermen and sailors.
The other kind is used in international voyages. It is normally made of spongy neoprene giving it better buoyancy and a higher degree of thermal protection. This makes it suitable for keeping alive for a longer period of time particularly because help takes much longer to arrive in such voyages.
It is however not worn continuously but rather stowed in the ship and retrieved to be donned quickly in the event of an emergency exit.
Immersion suit is an essential device for water rescue and is a must-have on every seagoing vessel. It sustains life on the water for a long time with no need to use energy. It is however as good as it can be retrieved, be usable and donned correctly.
For this reason, particular attention must be paid to where it is stowed and how it is maintained. This ensures the crew has knowledge of where the suit can be found in the ship at any given time.
It also ensures that it stays in good working condition so as to be useful when needed. Most importantly, knowing how to do it correctly and as rapidly as possible is key. These three things could be the defining factors between life and death when it comes to immersion suits.
Immersion suit will be made of waterproof and fireproof buoyant material. Normally neoprene is used for construction as it fits this description. SOLAS approved retro-reflective tape strips will be fixed on the arms, legs, upper torso and sides.
Suits of the right fitting will be provided for every member on board. Appropriate size ranges from small to extra large and is generally within 150 cm and 205 cm. While some manufacturers make all sizes S, M, L and XL, others provide only the universal adult size (XL).
Expected buoyancy is greater than or equal to 142N. The immersion suit is also expected to overturn a survivor from face down to face up a position within 5 seconds of immersion in water and lift their face 12 cm above the water surface.
Immersion suit must be resistant to damage from at least a 4.5 m drop when the wearer falls into the water. It must protect the survivor from any injury likely to be caused by the impact.It will be waterproof and keep the wearer dry even after long hours in water.
When immersed in water of normal temperatures of between 0° and 2°, it will prevent the body from cooling down to no more than a 2° drop for a duration of 6 hours. If engulfed in a fire, the material should be inflammable and not melt for at least two seconds.
Its construction will be non-restricting to the movement of body parts and conducting of normal work and evacuation process. Wearer should be able to walk, climb up and down a 5 m ladder and swim a reasonable distance too with normalcy.
The survival suit will be non-exposing. It provides full coverage of head, body, hands, and feet. Boots, a hood and mittens should be provided with the suit if not built in already.
However, for a rapid donning of under 2 minutes as per requirement during emergency, gloves, boot, and hood must be sewn in with the body suit as one continuous piece.
Immersion suit will have a head supporting board or buoyancy ring that acts as a pillow. It is structured to provide rest and support for the head when the survivor is floating in a horizontal position.
Attached to it is an inflatable air bladder that is pumped up by a hose when in water to prop up the head and lift it out of the water while also offering buoyancy.
The device comes ready with strips of SOLAS approved retro-reflective tape. This is normally about 30 square inches which are sufficient and thus no need to fix some more. These are found around the arms, upper body, legs, and head area to increase visibility in the night or darkness.
A waterproof zip closure should be provided at the front of the suit to seal water out and a transparent face cover to deter any water entry and shield the user from ocean spray.
Gloves or mittens may be glued/sewn into the suit or be detachable. The inner part is of a thin, non-insulated, waterproof material which is flexible to enable hand movement needed when donning and evacuating. The outer glove is normally thick, insulated and tethered.
Immersion suit leg area may be booted or tapered and Gumby at the feet making it difficult and awkward to walk. Ankle bands or straps helps to ease and hasten movement by securing the bottom part.
Accessories (whistle, light, harness)
Compliant vessels have whistles and strobe light attached to their immersion suits. These accessories are critical when beaconing or signaling for help. The whistle is attached to a rope while the light is located close to the shoulder. The light or torch will be watertight, self-activated at the touch of water and battery operated.
Another accessory to check out is a harness system. This is a vital component of an immersion suit. It is a combination of straps or belts that assists the survivor to be attached to a rescue craft and get pulled or lifted out of water.
A buddy line is also quite important through an optional accessory. It links several suits together. This way, it is easier for the rescue team to catch sight of a larger group as opposed to a single survivor.
Also, it prevents one or two people drifting far off and getting lost. Lastly, it boosts the will, hope, and morale of survivors when they are all together by each other.
Donning an immersion suit is not as straightforward as it seems on the first trial. According to SOLAS requirements, the suit must be constructed in a way that it can be donned without any assistance from another party and done quickly enough ideally under 2 minutes. To get this quite right, a couple of drills following donning instructions are necessary.
-Find a bag and carefully remove the suit. You do not need to remove your shoes or clothes as they offer more warmth and the suit is also wide enough to accommodate them.
-Lay out the suit flat on the surface of the deck and sit on it facing the same direction. A sitting position gives you more body control on an unstable vessel.
However, you may opt to stand depending on the situation. In this case, the suit will be worn just as you would an overall.
-Put on the parts of the suit intended for the legs one at a time.
-From the sitting position, move to a kneeling position. Pick up the non-dominant arm side of the suit. Put it on. If you are right handed, this would be the left arm side and vice versa.
-Using the other free hand which is now the dominant hand, pull the hood over your head.
-Wear the dominant arm side of the suit next and carefully pull up the zip closure to the top and cover the face flap.
-Secure the ankle and wrist straps (if any) and the inflation hose. If suit needs a life jacket, put it on over the suit.
-It is best to lower yourself gently into the water. However, when jumping is the only option, do it with crossed arms, protecting air passageways (nose and mouth). Always jump into the water feet first while facing up.
-Once immersed in the water inflate the air bladder using the hose/mouthpiece. Never do it prior to getting in the water.
-You can swim to a nearby life raft, life ring, lifeboat or another rescue device if close enough.
With regular drills, the crew should be able to minimize the donning time to a minute and even later on to seconds. Practise should be done on all possible conditions even in darkness.
Donning instructions do vary. While this is a standard outline, manufacturers instructions if provided must be a priority and adhered to.
To lengthen the useful life of immersion suit, routine maintenance is required. This is also necessary to ensure the suit is in perfect condition when needed to save a life. Here are a few tips to care for an immersion suit properly.
After every use, immersion suit must be cleaned. A thorough rinse with fresh water both in and out of the suit is enough to clean it well. Should the suit be used in oil rigs or contact grease, a little mild cleansing agent may be used. It is however not necessary to apply any vigorous abrasion.
The suit will be hanged under an airy shade on a wooden hanger to drip and dry. Turn it inside out to dry the interior first before turning it back to dry the outer part. Never dry clean or put the immersion suit under the direct sun to dry as it is damaging.
Once the immersion suit is cleaned and completely dry, spread it out flat on a clean surface. Unzip the zipper almost to the bottom leaving the last one inch unopened. Open the lock screw too. Roll up the suit starting from the legs all the way up to the chin evenly. Tuck in the face flap in the neck. Fold over the arm sleeves to the top.
Tuck in the hood lightly without folding the air bladder and head support. Store in a bag in a cool, dry, easy to access location within the ship. Nothing should be placed on top of the bag.
If it is in a locker, it should be spacious enough. Compressing the suit tampers with its buoyancy and thermal features and hinders functionality.
The crew will conduct their own regular inspection checks on immersion suits for signs of wear and tear to ensure it is fit for use at all times. Pressure testing will, however, be done by an authorized company every two years or as per manufacturer recommendations.
Inspecting and lubricating the zipper occasionally prevents corrosion, friction, and resistance, making sure it is sliding smoothly and does not get jammed at a time when it’s needed the most. Only non-petroleum based lubricants or manufacturer recommended lubricant should be used for the zip closure.
The storage bag zipper must also be lubricated regularly for the same reason. This is because if the bag zipper is not functioning, the suit will not be accessible.
Air bladders will be inspected for punctures and leaks by inflating and putting underwater to check for bubbles. Or, inflated, left alone and checked for firmness again after a 24-hour time lapse. Accessories such as the whistle and light/torch will also be checked for functionality.
Open seams, tears or holes must be reported and repaired urgently. Repairs must be done only by the manufacturer or licensed wetsuit repair company.
Self altering or modification of the suit to add or remove any feature or change its form could negatively impact its efficiency as a lifesaving device.
Grand Ocean Marine has already delivered our marine safety equipment to Singapore,Thailand, The Philippines, Indonesia, Spain, Brazil, Myanmar, UK, New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia, India, Ukraine, Pakistan, Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Dubai, UAE, Croatia, USA, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Mumbai, Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, etc.