Thursday, January 31, 2008


Immersion suits are designed to save lives by protecting the user from hypothermia and drowning. Just like other specialized equipment, they require proper storage, maintenance, and handling as a damaged or torn suit may result in a reduced level of protection. Here are some tips on how to keep your suit in good working condition.
Perform regular inspections on the outer shell, inner liner, and seals of the suit. Check for rips, tears, and deterioration.
You should become familiar with the operation of the zippers, pockets and seals. The life of the user may depend on the condition of the immersion suit and the security of its attachments and equipment.
Ensure that the zippers work properly and that there is no evidence of corrosion.
Lubricate them according to the manufacturers’ recommendations.
If the suit has inflatable components (head pillow), manually blow up the pillow at least once a year to ensure that it remains inflated for at least 24 hours.
Check that suit components, such as the whistle and the rescue light, are in working condition. Always check the expiration date on the light’s battery.
Store the suit in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight and follow the manufacturers’ recommendation on folding to avoid damage to the waterproof zippers. Ensure that the suit is in an accessible area and is easy to reach in the event of an emergency. Avoid storage that subjects the suit to significant compression.

The protection provided by an immersion suit relies very much on its watertight characteristics. It is important that only qualified approved technicians, with proper equipment, or the manufacturer should make repairs. Aside from care and maintenance, having the appropriate user training and product experience will also greatly increase one’s chances of surviving an accidental cold-water immersion. Practice retrieving the suit and donning it within one minute. All an immersion suit is an integral piece of life saving equipment onboard any vessel.

Care and maintenance will extend its working life. It's important to understand that there are not “good” or “bad” immersion suit types. Each type has its relative pro’s and con’s. How important each of these would be, as positive or negative factors in deciding which one to use, will depend on a number of issues related to the user’s operational environment. Choose the right protection by considering the type of work or activity in which it will be used, the conditions of risk and danger one faces, the amount of time one has to don it, and commitment required maintain of the suit.