Integrated Survival Suit Accessories

An immersion suit incorporates several accessories such as face masks, mitts, and ankle wraps, which are also high-visibility to aid in rescue. 

These integrated features are thoughtfully designed to enhance the suit’s functionality without compromising your mobility or comfort. 

With advances in material and design technology, the latest survival suits have become more user-friendly, allowing for faster donning in emergencies, which could be the deciding factor in survival scenarios.

The inclusion of accessories integrated into these suits, such as inflatable head pillows, reflective patches, and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) pockets, can significantly improve your chances of being quickly located and rescued.

Safety and Performance Accessories

It’s important to note the difference between an immersion suit and a drysuit, as each serves a specific purpose.

While a drysuit is intended primarily for prolonged activity in water, keeping you dry and comfortable, an immersion suit is designed to preserve life in a survival situation. 

Personal Protection Elements

Your survival suit should come equipped with personal protective equipment, including durable gloves to safeguard your fingers against the elements.

Additionally, hood support is essential for heat retention, and a properly fitted hood can also enhance hearing capabilities during search and rescue operations.

Emergency and Survival Equipment

Crucial to your safety is the inclusion of emergency and survival equipment. An accessible whistle and light can be lifesavers in low-visibility conditions, aiding in your detection by rescue teams. While buddy lines enhance the safety of group members by keeping you connected in the vast ocean.

Personal Locator Beacons

Integrating a PLB with a Gumby suit, or immersion suit, is an option that provides an extra safety layer.

Some immersion suits come with pre-integrated PLBs. These suits have dedicated pockets or attachment points for the PLB.

An example is the SeaAir Barents 2 suit, which includes an antenna module specifically designed for a PLB (HPL-2)​​​​.

If your immersion suit lacks a built-in PLB, you can attach one to its outer layer, preferably on the upper arm or chest.

Securely fasten the PLB with clips or straps to prevent detachment in rough seas. Choose a PLB that either activates automatically upon water immersion or requires manual activation, ensuring compatibility with your suit and the marine conditions.

Thermal Accessories 

Survival suit underlining can enhance thermal protection. These undergarments, typically made from materials like fleece or thermal fabrics, are designed to trap body heat by sitting close to the skin.

They fit under the suit without restricting movement, crucial for maintaining dexterity and mobility. S

electing the right underlining, which aligns with the specific thermal properties and fit of the survival suit, is essential for optimal performance and safety in harsh marine environments.

Flotation Features

For potentially frigid waters, your suit should incorporate thermal protection such as neoprene, which offers insulation and preserves body heat. 

Integral to survival suits are inherent buoyancy and/or a lifejacket, which should be USCG-approved to ensure compliance with safety standards.

Buoyancy head support and freeboard are also significant as they keep your head above water and reduce the risk of drowning.

Each of these features contributes directly to your survivability and efficiency in maritime environments.

Regulation and Compliance

These regulations ensure that survival suits meet specific standards that are designed to offer maximum protection in the event of an emergency at sea.

SOLAS and USCG Standards

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) prescribes the minimum standards for the construction, equipment, and operation of ships, compatible with their safety.

SOLAS standards ensure that survival suits, such as those manufactured by Viking, are capable of providing adequate thermal protection and flotation.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has its own requirements, including approval processes for personal lifesaving equipment.

For a survival suit to be considered USCG-approved, it must pass rigorous testing to demonstrate its performance under extreme conditions.

International Safety Laws

International safety laws are shaped by the collaborative efforts of maritime organizations to standardize survival equipment across borders.

This ensures that no matter where a vessel hails from, the safety equipment, including survival suits, adheres to a recognized set of performance criteria.

Critical components of international safety laws include:

  • Performance requirements: International safety laws outline strict performance requirements for ignition, temperature ratings, and durability.
  • Compliance and certification: Vessels must carry equipment like survival suits that have certification indicating they meet or exceed the specified safety standards.

Frequently Asked

When choosing a survival suit, ensure it is universal in fit or available in multiple sizes to accommodate all potential users. A suit with an integrated buoyancy aid, like a lifejacket, simplifies use and increases safety. For children, opt for a suit made to fit appropriately based on the child’s height.

Proper maintenance and storage of your survival suit are vital for its longevity. After use, follow cleaning guidelines carefully, usually involving a gentle clean with fresh water. For storage, your suit should be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Survival suit maintenance, guided by manufacturer’s specifications, requires regular checks to ensure integrity. If wear or damage is evident, immediate professional service or replacement is vital. Always follow the manufacturer’s detailed instructions.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Sailing Savvy. I spent a decade working as a professional mariner and currently, I mix those experiences with digital publishing. Welcome, and I hope that we can be the hub you need for safe passage.