Immersion Suits are available for sale and servicing at Professional Safety Services (UK) Ltd. Contact our sales team on 01423 323 302.
A survival suit, or as it is more accurately and currently referred to as, an immersion suit, is a special type of waterproof dry suit that can protect the wearer from hypothermia if immersed in cold water, after abandoning a sinking or capsized vessel, especially in the open ocean. Immersion suits usually have built-in feet (boots), and a hood, and either built-in gloves or watertight wrist seals. Suits manufactured by several manufacturers also include an inflatable pillow which is permanently attached high on the back, or an inflatable tube that is attached with zippers at two points on the chest, each side of the main zipper, and circles the back. When inflated, both of these devices provide enhanced stability to the wearer, so that, if conscious, allows them to have enhanced stability with the head above water, and the ability to keep wind and seas from striking the face. The inflation tube is routed from the inflatable pillow over the left shoulder of the user, and secured in a loop on the chest. Some immersion suits are manufactured with straps/clips and hooks to allow multiple survivors to attach to one another in the water. This practice keeps survivors together. As well, some suits are manufactured with built-in hoisting lanyards, to allow easier retrieval from vessels with a higher seaboard, that may have manual or mechanical hoisting capabilities.
The first record of what has previously been known as a “survival suit” was in 1930 when a New York firm American Life Suit Corporation offered merchant and fishing firms what it called a safety suit for crews of ocean vessels. The suit came packed in a small box and was put on like a boilersuit.
The ancestor of these suits was already invented in 1872 by Clark S Merriman to rescue steamship passengers. It was made from rubber sheeting and became famous by the swim records of Paul Boyton. It was essentially a pair of rubber pants and shirt cinched tight at the waist with a steel band and strap. Within the suit were five air pockets the wearer could inflate by mouth through hoses. Similar to modern-day drysuits, the suit also kept its wearer dry. This essentially allowed him to float on his back, using a double-sided paddle to propel himself, feet-forward. Additionally, he could attach a small sail to save stamina while slowly drifting to shore (because neither emergency radio transmitters nor rescue helicopters were invented yet).
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