How to Make Sure You’ve Got the Right Survival Suit

If you need a survival suit, then you can’t afford to get it wrong, as it really could be a matter of life and death.

Here’s what you need to consider if you’re buying a survival suit.

1. It’s essential that the survival suit you choose meets the relevant standards for your industry. You might need it to be flameproof for example, or keep you buoyant for a certain amount of time.

2. You’ll want to make sure that there is enough buoyancy to keep you floating. You won’t want to risk being submerged in an icy cold sea.

3. You’ll also need additional thermal properties to keep you warm in the water. Depending on what happened, you might be in the water for several hours. Staying warm will increase your chances of survival.

4. You’ll also want to look for useful features that will make staying alive and being visible easier. You’ll want a buddy line so that you can connect to others in the sea so that nobody gets lost, or dragged under. A lifting strap is useful for when you are finally rescued.

10 Methods for Picking a great Immersion Suit

If you need an immersion suit, then it’s essential that you get the right one, and that it meets your needs, even though you’ll hope that you never need it.

Here’s what you should look for.

1. An immersion suit is mandatory in many jobs, such as those who travel on or across water, such as pilots, sailors, and those on fishing vessels, gas and oil rigs. You’ll need to make sure that you have one that is going to be suitable for the type of conditions you’re going to be in.

2. It’s essential that your immersion suit is designed to increase the chances of you surviving in water. If you need to abandon a sinking vessel, or survive a plane crash then you’ll want to reduce the risk of hyperthermia.

3. It’s important that your survival suit has both internal and external buoyancy so that you can stay afloat for longer. You might be floating for several hours, and so you’ll need all the help you can get.

4. Having additional insulation to keep you warm is a good idea. As well as staying afloat, you’ll want to stay as warm as possible if you find yourself in the cold sea.

5. Your immersion suit needs to be a good fit, so that it gives you the support and protection you need in an emergency.

6. You’ll want a suit that has have gloves, a hood and booties to keep your extremities warm. You don’t want to lose the feeling in your hand or feet, and you don’t want to risk your head going underwater.

7. It’s a good idea to practice putting on your immersion suit in all conditions, and in the day and at night. You’ll need to be able to put it on very quickly, and you can’t afford to get it wrong when you need to wear it.

8. Even though you might never need to wear it, it’s essential that your immersion suit is stored where it can be easily accessed. A bulky suit will offer more thermal protection and buoyancy, but might be harder to store.

9. Although it’s highly unlikely you’ll need to abandon a vessel, or need to wear your immersion suit in an emergency, you’ll want to know that you’ve got the right one, and that you have the best chance of survival and being found.

10. Because you can’t put a cost on a life, it’s essential that you get the right immersion suit to meet your needs, and that is right for the industry you’re in, and the environment that you’re likely to find yourself in. You won’t want to be in a life or death situation where you regret your choice of survival suit.

Now you know what to look for, and why it so important you get it right, you’ll be able to buy the right immersion suit.

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Survival Suit Basics

The survival suit may be cumbersome and uncomfortable but it is responsible for saving many lives. Although it is thought of as a cold water safety device, vessels operating in moderate waters offshore should also consider carrying one suit per person.

A survival, or immersion suit protects the occupant by putting a barrier between skin and water. This keeps body heat from being lost to the water which can lead to hypothermia and death.

There are two main types of suits that differ in construction and purpose. The first is a floatation type suit which resembles a scuba diver’s dry suit. Another type of suit can be called a barrier suit which as little insulation or floatation.

Floatation Suits

Floatation is only one of the excellent properties of these suits. They also have great insulation properties and some rigidity to hold the thick foam material away from the skin of someone bobbing in the sea.

All survival suits have roughly the same shape. They roughly follow the form of the body and include a hood with a gasket seal. A short zipper allows access but it should be a tight squeeze. Ideally the suit should fit close to body size but additional straps at the ankles and wrists can make it less floppy. The hands are covered in mittens that give the user very little dexterity.

Buoyancy in most suits is 20 – 30 pounds (9- 13.5 kg)and is plenty considering a commercial USCG Type 1 PFD has the same floatation. A floatation suit replaces other floatation devices so don’t try to put a PFD on over or under your floatation suit.

While this equipment is excellent for cold water use and long survival time they are about twice as much as a barrier suit. Expect to pay between $400-600 US for a good quality suit.

Barrier Suits

These are tough, waterproof membranes designed to keep you dry. The clothing under your suit keeps you warm. Ice divers use these techniques when they layer thick synthetic fleece under their dry suits.

This lack of insulation makes the barrier suits more flexible. If you operate in seasonally cold areas it will allow you to use the suits more comfortably in warmer times. You should avoid wearing short sleeves or other exposed skin if possible since abrasion will quickly give you sores while submerged.

Also consider that many orders to put on survival suits are well into an emergency and you may be thoroughly soaked. Being wet inside a barrier suit gives you little insulation. A floatation suit partly full of water still has good insulation value.

Extra straps for ankles, wrists and waist are more necessary for these suits since they are very flexible and droopy.

Care and Storage

Proper care and storage of suits is essential. Suits that are very scuffed, torn, or have cracks will not pass equipment inspection and need to be replaced.

In most cases the suit will be kept in your duty area, some smaller vessels will require it to be kept in personal quarters. Wherever it is it should be in the hanging locker.

Folding a survival suit will weaken it as it is unfolded and refolded. The creases breakdown the waterproof outer coating. These shows up as darker areas on foam suits and are a sign of wear. If you must put it in a small space rolling is a better option than folding

If the suit needs to be cleaned avoid regular detergents and only use a product made for scuba dry suits since the waterproof coating can be damaged. Some outdoor clothing products made to maintain waterproof coatings are also suitable but check the manufacture’s instructions.


By now you might be asking why these suits are subject to wear. They are just for emergencies, right?

Yes, but emergencies are chaotic and you don’t to put that suit on for the first time in the dark on a pitching deck.Practice is essential, and mandated.

Practice putting on your suit on a soft and clean surface like carpet. This will keep the feet free of damage. Best practices are to use a checklist so nothing sharp is brought inside the suit where it could cause a tear or puncture.