According to Professional Mariner, a newly-designed immersion suit has been shown in tests to be able to protect wearers for over 24 hours.
Testing of the Stearns 1950 Thermashield 24+ Immersion Suit was conducted in September 2013 at Simon Fraser University near Vancouver, British Columbia. The US Coast Guard requires that an immersion suit protect the wearer for at least six hours to be certified. Members of the Canadian Coast Guard were used for the tests, which were conducted in 32 degree water.
“At 24 hours and 15 minutes, we ended the testing,” stated Darin Webb, global senior director, product development with Stearns. “We felt there wasn’t a need for additional data. Several of the people were more than willing to stay in the suit.”
The idea for the 24+ Immersion Suit was brought to Stearns by Bob Duncan, an Alaska Airlines pilot and inventor. He was able to design a liner that circulates the wearer’s warm breath through the immersion suit. When the wearer breathes into a mouthpiece, the air travels through the crush-proof fibrous liner, warming the back of the suit, down the arms to the wrist cuffs and down the legs into the boots.
“Anything that helps someone in the water fend off hypothermia is a good idea,” stated Captain Anthony Palmiotti, an associate professor at SUNY Maritime College. “Help might not always be quick. The ability to walk and maybe even work in a suit is great.”
When a vessel sinks, the use of an immersion suit is what enables a person to survive. With any type of immersion suit, it is important that the vessel owner does monthly drills for putting on the immersion suit, performs monthly maintenance on the suit and properly stores the suits in an accessible location. There are regulations which apply to vessels that require the drills and maintenance to be done. The failure to perform the drills or maintenance can be negligence or an unseaworthy condition.
Latti & Anderson’s Little Extra: According to the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association, the body cools 25 times faster in cold water than it does in air.
Latti & Anderson LLP – Nationwide Maritime Attorneys