Survival Suit Maintenance

Proper maintenance and care are essential for survival suits to ensure they function correctly in emergencies. 

By following specific cleaning, storage, and inspection procedures, the integrity and performance of a survival suit can be preserved.

Clean your survival suit with mild soap and lukewarm water, rinse thoroughly, and dry in a ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Ensure it’s completely dry before storage to prevent mildew.

Store your survival suit in a dry, cool place away from sunlight and chemicals to prevent damage. Proper storage is key to avoiding cracks or creases that compromise its effectiveness. For optimal conditions, use facilities designed for survival suit storage.

Inspect your survival suit regularly for wear, tear, and material degradation. Check zippers and seals to ensure the suit’s integrity.

Enhancing Suit Longevity

Material Upkeep

Regularly inspect your survival suit for signs of wear and tear. Use a mild detergent to clean the fabric, avoiding fabric softeners as they can degrade the suit’s material.

After washing, thoroughly rinse the suit to remove any soap residue. Properly drying your suit is just as important; make sure it is completely dry before storing to prevent mildew growth.

Sunlight and Chemical Exposure

Limit your survival suit’s exposure to direct sunlight, as UV rays can weaken the fabric over time.

When not in use, store your suit in a cool, dark place. Also, be cautious with chemicals — even household cleaners like bleach can damage the suit’s material.

In the event of chemical contact, follow specific cleaning procedures to minimize any long-term effects.

Improving Suit Integrity

The integrity of your survival suit is paramount. Ensure that all seals and closures are free from damage and function correctly.

Periodic preventative maintenance should be undertaken to assess the condition of seams and zippers; these are critical areas that, if compromised, can affect the performance.

Repairs should be carried out by authorized professionals who can maintain the suit’s integrity.

Repair and Replacement

Maintaining the integrity of your survival suit is crucial for your safety. Regular checks for damage, prompt repair, and timely replacement of parts will ensure the suit continues to function as intended.

Identifying Damage

Inspect your survival suit regularly for any signs of punctures, tears, or seam degradation. Pay special attention to zippers and closures, which are critical for the suit’s waterproof integrity. Ensure that the suit is clean and dry after each use to prevent the deterioration of materials.

  • Visual Inspection: Look for apparent signs of distress, such as fabric discoloration or stretched material that may suggest tears or punctures.
  • Seam Integrity: Check the seams by applying gentle pressure to ensure they are sealed correctly.
  • Zipper Function: Open and close all zippers to confirm smooth operation; any snagging or resistance can indicate the need for repair or replacement.

Repair Techniques

For minor damages, self-repair techniques can be sufficient. For zipper issues, lubrication often helps, but if problems persist, the zipper may need to be replaced.

  • Zipper Lubrication: Regularly apply zipper lubricant to maintain ease of use and prevent corrosion.

Replacement Parts

When repairs are not advisable or possible, replacement parts can restore your survival suits’ functionality.

Machovec offers comprehensive replacements for suits, including face seal on hoods and zipper installations.

Always use parts provided or approved by the manufacturer to ensure compatibility and maintain any existing warranty.

  • Seals: Neck and wrist seals are subject to wear and should be replaced with a precise fit for proper water exclusion.
  • Hoods and Zippers: If damaged beyond repair, enlist professional services for the replacement of these critical components.

⚠️ Remember: Unauthorized modifications can void warranties and compromise the suit’s performance.

Performance Testing and Evaluations

When maintaining a survival suit, certain performance tests ensure the suit meets safety and testing standards and operates effectively.

Water Immersion Tests

Water immersion tests are essential for verifying the effectiveness of a survival suit in real-world conditions.

During these tests, you’ll experience first-hand how the suit maintains flotation and insulation while immersed in water. Assuring the suit’s ability to perform under prolonged exposure is a key aspect of these evaluations.

Buoyancy Assessments

Buoyancy assessments measure a suit’s capacity to keep you afloat. It’s crucial to test this aspect regularly as buoyancy can decrease over time with wear and tear. Effective survival suit buoyancy is a lifesaver, providing flotation that can prevent drowning.

Thermal Protection Testing

Your suit’s capacity for thermal protection is evaluated through specific testing, simulating extreme conditions to ensure the insulation properties of the suit are intact. Protecting you from hypothermia, these tests assess how well the suit maintains body heat in frigid waters.

Seals and Gaskets

Seals and gaskets are vital for comfort and preventing water ingress. Regular evaluation of these components ensures they remain watertight.

Monitoring the condition and integrity of seals is a fundamental part of suit maintenance, safeguarding against leaks that could compromise thermal protection.

Integrated Safety Devices

Reflective Tape: Your suit should be equipped with high-visibility reflective tape. This material is crucial for search and rescue operations, as it reflects light, making you more visible in dim conditions. Ensure the tape is intact and free from damage.

Whistles and Lights: Check that your suit has an attached whistle and light. These are essential for attracting attention. When blown, the whistle should have a clear sound, and the light must be operational. It’s a good practice to test the light in dark conditions periodically.

Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): If fitted, a PLB can be a lifesaver. Verify the battery life and test the beacon according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Remember, a functional PLB can mean the difference between being found quickly or not.

Inflation Devices: Many suits include inflation devices to keep you afloat. Inspect for any tears or leaks. Also, check the CO2 cartridges are full, and the manual inflation tubes are accessible and in working order.

Checklist for Safety Device Maintenance:

Reflective tape securely attached and unobstructed
Whistle attached and capable of producing a loud sound
Light tested for functionality
PLB tested, with battery life checked
Inflation devices inspected for integrity and air-tightness

Refer to professional guidelines, such as the U.S. Department of Defense’s manual, for detailed instructions.

Considerations for Special Environments

Environments such as open ocean or cold waters demand particular attention to elements like buoyancy and thermal protection to prevent hypothermia and ensure your safety.

For survival on the open ocean, buoyancy is vital. Ensure the closed-cell foam that provides flotation is in perfect condition.

Buoyancy must be sufficient to keep you afloat even if you are incapacitated. Regularly inspect for and repair any tears or punctures.

The inclusion of built-in gloves and sealed seams are key features to protect against water ingress, which can have fatal consequences if you’re stranded for a prolonged period. Pay close attention to the integrity of the seals around these gloves.

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.