The survival suit may be cumbersome and uncomfortable but it is responsible for saving many lives. Although it is thought of as a cold water safety device, vessels operating in moderate waters offshore should also consider carrying one suit per person. A survival, or immersion suit protects the occupant by putting a barrier between skin and water. This keeps body heat from being lost to the water which can lead to hypothermia and death. There are two main types of suits that differ in construction and purpose. The first is a floatation type suit which resembles a scuba diver’s dry suit. Another type of suit can be called a barrier suit which as little insulation or floatation. Floatation is only one of the excellent properties of these suits. They also have great insulation properties and some rigidity to hold the thick foam material away from the skin of someone bobbing in the sea.
Barrier suits are tough, waterproof membranes designed to keep you dry. The clothing under your suit keeps you warm. Ice divers use these techniques when they layer thick synthetic fleece under their dry suits.