Gumby Survival Suits

I need to order 120 survival suits for my ship’s upcoming transit. Our local ship supplier in Korea, DinTec, is suggesting going for either Stern’s Immersion Suits or suits from the local Korean manufacturer (Kosco Safety).

Does anyone have experience with these brands? Who (In your opinion) makes the best survival gear?

Dintect is also going to bring us a few models to look at before we make the purchase… what should I be looking for in a survival suit?

[quote=john;19973]I need to order 120 survival suits for my ship’s upcoming transit. Our local ship supplier in Korea, DinTec, is suggesting going for either Stern’s Immersion Suits or suits from the local Korean manufacturer (Kosco Safety).

Does anyone have experience with these brands? Who (In your opinion) makes the best survival gear?

Dintect is also going to bring us a few models to look at before we make the purchase… what should I be looking for in a survival suit?[/quote]

[B]Hey, found this… I think the color coded bags for starts is pretty cool, I know bad stories of crew trying to don lifesuits (in an actual emergency) that ended up “not fitting” …[/B]
[B][/B]
[B]I’m sure everyone here is going to give you some great imput on this one…here goes from one site…[/B]

Survival suits are essential safety equipment if you work on a fishing vessel, oil or gas production, or as part of a search and rescue team. Survival suits will increase the amount of time that you can spend in the water in the event of abandoning a sinking or capsized vessel or stricken production platform, especially in the open ocean.
Here are 10 tips to help you choose the right survival suit, and increase your chance of being rescued should the worst happen.

  1. The survival suit you choose needs to meet all the operational requirements placed on it by the operational regulatory body. So whatever you purchase make sure it conforms to your industry regulation. Depending on the environment you work in, you may need a flameproof survival suit. A more obvious requirement in the Offshore Oil & Gas Industry for example.

  2. An Immersion survival suit that has personal buoyancy and thermal barrier protection which will dramatically increase survival time in the water. Immersion work suits often do not have these qualities so it is important to spot the difference.

  3. Attention to detail: A buddy line ensures that you can be tied to others, so that you don’t drift apart. A lifting strap will help the rescuer to winch you up to safety. An integral approved emergency light and approved reflective tape means that you are more easily found in the dark.

  4. An integrated safety harness for the rescuer’s suit will mean that a separate harness is not required, and ensures that it is always fitted and ready to be used, and appropriate for use with the survival suit. It is also one less thing to remember when embarking on a rescue mission.

  5. Insulated gloves and booties will help to keep hands and feet warm and delay the onset of hypothermia. Also a hood is vital as so much heat is lost from the head. The hood will also protect from frostbite, and from any debris that may be in the water. Head, hands and feet should always be well insulated and protected.

  6. Transport Immersion survival suits when fitted with an “Emergency Re-breathing System” (ERBS) can be a lifesaver, as it allows exhaled breath to be used again, so that if you are submerged for any reason, you can still breathe for a short time whilst you sort yourself out.

  7. An Emergency Locator Beacon is essential so that the rescue services can locate you. These are designed to be used in tough conditions, and transmit on aircraft frequencies to increase you chances of being found. Some survival suits have built in emergency locator beacons, but it is also recommended to have proprietary additional beacons to hand.

  8. Look for regulatory certification and approval. A survival suit that has been tested to the highest standards will certainly be up to the task. There are different standards for survival suits to be used in different environments. A pilot’s survival suit will differ from that of an arctic sailor. If you are not sure of the standards you need to look for, ask. Your supplier will help you to make sure you get the right survival suit in the right size, and be able to offer any additional vital accessories, to make sure that you have the highest chance of survival.

  9. An inner layer will provide additional insulation and buoyancy, meaning that you can be in the water for longer. Depending on the environment you will be in, you may find yourself in freezing water for several hours. The warmer your survival suit, the more chance you have of staying alive.

  10. Your survival suit will need to be quick and easy to put on. If you are a rescuer then time is definitely of the essence, and the quicker you can be ready, the more chance you have of saving those in the water. If you are in a position where you need to abandon your vessel or aircraft, you will probably only have a few minutes to prepare. By ensuring that you can put your survival suit on quickly and easily, you will increase your chances of surviving, and being rescued.
    Don’t underestimate the importance of the right survival suit. Like insurance, it’s something we buy and hope to never need. If we do need it, we hope we’ve got the best. Property and possession can be replaced, but your life can’t. Don’t risk buying the wrong survival suit, as it could cost you your life.

Whether you work on a passenger ship or an oil rig, your safety is vital. For help and advice choosing the right SOLAS approved Immersion Suits and Survival Suits visit HellyHansen-Workwear.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=M_James

Nauticart makes an excellent point…

When I did BST, I used what ever was there and didn’t think much about it…But while doing a monthly maintenance on our gumby suits recently I though I should set one up for myself…Plasitic bags for the shoes, extra lights ect…Then I put it on…It was a regular adult Stearns…It was too small…I’m 6’1" 195…WTH??? I am going to have to use the next size called a jumbo…thats crazy…

John, everything we have onboard is the Stearns …

John:

I have not been a not a big fan of Stearns. - I have maintained hundreds of them and there is just something about them in the way of build quality that bothers me. I haven’t seen the latest models - but they have historically ignored the advances in neoprene (flexibility etc.).

I do like the design features of the Aquata brand (available at the local supplier) (I wish they had at least ONE glove that was removable - but I also appreciate the fact that gloves cant get lost and its one less thing to leak - and leaks kill.

I have never seen a design that meets SOLAS that wouldn’t do a good job - but brand is not NEAR as important as size identification and training. Here is what I mean:

  1. If a too small person climbs into a too big immersion suit and jumps in the freezing water - game over. Even the suits with toe valves to drain water (note: they also drain air and thereby insulation) will have a constant resupply of cold water and that person isn’t going to do very well at all.

It is imperative to - on purpose and individually - have crew members identify an immersion suit that fits (by trying it on) and then making certain that it is THEIR survival suit while aboard. If the crew has to dig through a pile of suits - someone is getting in the wrong size - and then it doesn’t matter how well it is designed.

  1. Finding survival suits during the day is comparatively easy - they are bright orange and big and shaped like nothing else in the water. But at night rescue crews rely heavily on Night Vision, and Infra-red. The suits keep the cold out and the heat in - which means (and I have tried this one) they are virtually invisibly to Infra-red equipment. only the portion of the face that is exposed paints a picture on FLIR. So you are left with visible light detection - easy-to-activate-in-big-floppy-glove water lights are …imperative.

  2. Big flotation block behind the head is good - more places for retro and visibility - and they are a far less fatiguing ride in the water. and the head is kept higher out of the water.

  3. Buddy lines - being able to easily tie off to each other is massively beneficial - but it must be easy to do wearing big floppy three fingered gloves. The “helicopter lifting straps” are good for this reason alone - only the most foolish rescuer would dare (and only in dire circumstances) use those lightweight, untested, prone to failure immersion suit lifting straps. You’re getting in a basket or the rescuer will have a “real” rescue strop.

  4. Did I mention fit? Its important enough to mention twice.

  5. Maintenance - I don’t care WHAT the requirements for maintenance are, I am taking MY immersion suit out of the back, working the zipper, and applying fresh zipper wax. The zipper is everything. Make sure you get stocked up on Zip-Ease or some other stick of wax made for that purpose.

As always: THE PRECEDING OPINIONS ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY OR THE U.S. COAST GUARD.

Mario

Thanks for this post, I for one learned something. Since most of my time is in warmer water,I don’t get exposed to these things often, it is good to keep informed:cool:

[I]“When it is all said and done, more is said than done”[/I]

[I]Anonymous[/I]

Excellent responses guys!! I have just one more question for Mario… If I had to jump into the water while crossing the equator, should I don the suit? Just curious because an instructor once said “As long as the water temp is under 98.6 degrees, you had better don it”. So is there is a max water temp for their use?

I’m certainly no expert, but, in my case, I think that being enclosed in a gumby in 85 degree water under a broiling sun in the GOM would kill me quicker than hypothermia.

I was in a gumby in a hot pool in a hot shed. It was misery. The liferaft wasn’t much fun either…130 degrees with twenty guys in there.

In the GOM I’d rather be in the water in my coveralls and a type 1 PFD, with a strobe and EPIRB. If I was on the Grand Banks or Diamond Shoals in February it might be different.

Just my opinion.

Nemo

[QUOTE=john;20016]Excellent responses guys!! I have just one more question for Mario… If I had to jump into the water while crossing the equator, should I don the suit? Just curious because an instructor once said “As long as the water temp is under 98.6 degrees, you had better don it”. So is there is a max water temp for their use?[/QUOTE]

Excellent and thought provoking question. My thought is that if you had a suit handy, why not don the suit to jump into the water to make sure you don’t drown? Then you can continue to use it for flotation and protection from the sun. Open it up and let the water in to cool down and you will still float just fine. [I]Of course, you should never open up the suit in anything but tropical waters…[/I]

[B]yeah, especially when there are a bunch of Jellys ! :eek: ouch…[/B]

Listen - I’ve always been a huge fan of having something you don’t need - but there is a lot to consider. First off - if any water temp under 98.5 would cause hypothermia - then I wonder how I last so long in my 72 degree house? Yes - water pulls heat faster but really - you are going to die from several other things before hypothermia in water above 85. Captain Nemo is right - wearing a 5 mil layer of neoprene in warm water in the equatorial heat would kill you much faster than hypothermia. The largest problem for exposure in warm climates (what kills you first) is dehydration.

Dehydration is an entirely different animal in water than in air. “Immersion induced diuresis” (we are going deep here) is the bodies reaction to the increase in blood pressure cause by entering water of any temperature. Put simply - the reason you have to pee more when you swim is your body is trying to decrease your blood volume because the water pressure on your body raises your blood pressure. Cold water raises your blood pressure more - but the point is you are going to urinate a lot and dehydrate very quickly in any water immersion.

Also consider time to rescue. The circumstances that have to happen to have you in the water for more than 24 hours after you intentionally abandoned ship are becoming rare. GMDSS - EPIRB - SARTS - RADIO - have decreased the average search times for intentional abandonment down to hours.

So what is my advice after all that?

There are priorities - things that mater in order - when leaving your boat. 1. Let people know your doing it (mayday). 2. Make sure you stay alive for as long as possible in the water. (liferaft, lifejacket, immersion suit, water). and 3. BE AS VISIBLE AS POSSIBLE. (personal EPIRBS are my favorite) but anything that floats helps.
Personally; [B]my immersion suit would be strapped onto my life jacket when I jumped overboard no matter where I was in the world.[/B] Why? Cause it can be! I don’t have to get “in” it for it to be useful. Cupping it - in its bag - under my knees will make me more horizontal in the water (less hydrostatic pressure on my legs - less dehydration). When searches arrive - I can roll it out and look like two people in the water - with my big orange man shaped floating signal (with retro on it) next to me. I can use it to support the gallon jugs of tea I stole from the galley on my way past the mess. I can talk to it - you know, like Wilson in Castaway…:expressionless: (kidding)

If there is no cost (or risk) to having something with you in the water, I say take it. Once you leave it aboard - that’s were it stays.

Agreed…the more you have with you when you go in the water the better. Potable water is number one down here, in my opinion. A person (especially me) can live a long time in the water without food. I could stand to loose a few pounds anyway.

A couple of days without drinking water, you’re toast.

I sure hope I never to have to demonstrate it!

Be safe

Nemo

First off… they are not Survival Suits !

They are Immersion Suits and no way insure survival in cold water (below 70F). I had three very close friends who, if alive, would tell you that calling them survial suits is not a good head set to be in. They simply SLOW heat loss. In other words, extend life for a few hours in 50 F water, if doned properly on deck.

Id recomend calling a few marine supply stores in Seattle or Kodiak, AK for the different brands they carry or go online. Im thinking Seattle Fisheries Supply or call Englund Marine in Astoria, OR. Im sure the NE guys have the same but Im a PNW guy.

One thing Ive noticed in recent years is a variety of new styles/options/models availible from the major manufatures. For example, 3 finger gloves, 5 finger gloves, detachable gloves, light/thin rubber gloves, etc.

Fit is a big deal. I dont think any manufacture makes a “Bayou Fit.” :wink:
Bob

Bob - terribly sorry about the loss of your friends. Like life jackets, immersion suits, life rings, and life rafts - people have died while using all of these things. But far more people have died because they didn’t use these things. While I agree about the term “immersion suit” I wish they were called something else. A person may not be compelled to wear something that helps them be immersed, but “survival” sound like something we all want.

A person may not be compelled to wear something that helps them be immersed, but “survival” sound like something we all want.

Ya, I dont want to quible about semantics but I still remember the false confidence my friends had with their survial suits. THey all said, heck if we get into touble theyd just slip on the suit and wait for the coast guard to pick them up.

The lesson I learned is that over confidence in an immersion suit may lead to poor survival decisions. Just wanted to add my cautionary note: They are a fantastic addtion to an abandon ship plan but in no way suggest survival.

Bob