THE WET SUIT
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Let's face the facts: If you enter water that is below 91 or 92 degrees you will lose heat. Heat is produced mainly in the muscle cells as a by-product of chemically combining food and oxygen. If you want to really feel cold on a dive don't eat. Don't eat a hearty breakfast before the morning dives. Don't eat lunch. Don't eat snacks from the galley between dives. You might want to add to the misery by wearing little or no protection during the dive. Ahh! Florida is 85 degrees on a particular January day. The ocean is 70 degrees. The air is warm and you would think diving would require only a 3 mm wet suit and no hood. Between dives you will change your tune! You may be so cold you will forgo the 2nd dive! Wear a thicker suit and wear a hood! You've heard almost 50% of heat loss is from the head and neck. There is no constriction of the blood vessels in those areas because the brain cannot survive with a reduced blood flow. No constriction makes for a large heat loss. Wear a hood!
The less water entering a wet (or dry suit, for that matter) the warmer it will be. The common misconception is that a wet suit keeps the user warm because of the thin layer of water that enters it. That is false. The gas bubbles in the suit itself provide the insulation. In fact, the more water that enters the suit, the less effective the suit will be for maintaining warmth. Water is a tough commodity to warm up! In many suits, especially ones produced many years ago, the neoprene was not as flexible as with modern suits.If the older suits were made to fit close to the body the effort to inhale could become great enough to cause the diver to think they are out of breath. Therefore, it was necessary to wear a suit that was slightly larger in order to prevent body compression and constriction. That allowed more water to enter. The manufacturers told the buyers and instructors the false information about how the the layer of water kept the diver warm. The best suits allow the least amount of water to enter. At Deep-Six we try to fit the customer with a suit that is as close to the body as possible. Also, wet suits are designed to keep the diver warm, not make them warm. If you start out cold in a wet suit you will not be warmed up by the suit.
Some customers ask, "What happens to a suit as it ages?" "Does it shrink or expand?" The answer is that the suit remains just about the same for many years. Deep-Six has a few wet suits that are over 35 years old. They are used only in chlorinated pools. They are just about the same as when they were new. So, it not the suit that changes over time. It is usually the wearer!
Wet suits come in a variety of thicknesses that range from less than 1mm to more than 9mm. The thicker the suit the warmer it will be underwater. However, the thicker the suit the more bulky it is and the more buoyant the diver will be. Typically, for tropical diving in water that is 80 degrees or above a 1mm to 3mm suit would be best. For diving in northern waters, such as New York State lakes and the ocean in the Spring and Fall, a 7mm suit is ideal. The thickness and type of suit will depend on how fat the diver is. Fat divers have a lot of very adequate insulation and will be able to use a thinner suit. For most divers, when diving in water that is less than 40 degress a dry suit would be preferable.
Wet suits get thinner as one descends. Since the suit is composed of millions of gas bubbles, as the diver goes deeper the bubbles compress and the suit does not provide as much insulation as it does on the surface. A suit is about 1/2 the original thickness at a depth of 3 atmospheres (66 feet in seawater, 68' in fresh water - remember it's not just bubbles that would make the suit one-half as thick at 33', but the suit has matrix as well). Not only will the diver feel the cold more, they will have lost buoyancy and be overweighted.
Since wet suits are waterproof it is impossible for a person wearing one on land to lose body heat by evaporating sweat. Even in warm water a diver can become over-heated (hyperthermia). It is possibly for a person to suffer from heat stroke if they wear a suit and become too hot. Standing in the sun with a thick suit, or exercising in a suit in or out of the water may result in overheating. Some divers remove their hoods (at least) to keep this from happening.
When one is finished using a wet suit it should be rinsed with fresh water. The suit may even be washed using regular laundry detergent in a washing machine. However, it is not wise to expose the suit to chlorine that is found in pools and bleach. Do not put it in a dryer! It should be hung up to dry with the inside out, away from the sun and ozone (officers copiers, electric motors, etc.). The hanger should be thick. Thin coat hangers, as well as folding the suit for a prolonged period of time, will leave permanent creases in a suit. Once it is dry it may be hung with the outside out in a closet. The best way to pack a wet suit for travel is to roll it into a log shape first. That will help to prevent permanent wrinkles.
Urinatiing in a wet suit will not harm it, but it should be rinsed out completely after removal. Urinating in a dry suit can result in a mess. If you want to try to control having to urinate while diving check out the following article from the August 2010 Issue of the magazine, Diver:
MEN' SIZE CHART :
Size Height Weight Chest Waist Hips
|5'4" - 5'7"||125-145 lbs||34"-36"||30"-32"||34"-36"|
|Medium||5'7" - 5'10"||145-160 lbs||36"-38"||31"-33"||35"-37"|
|Medium/Large||5'8" - 5'11"||160-175 lbs||38"-39"||32"-34"||36"-39"|
|Large||5'10" - 6'2"||175-190 lbs||39"-41"||33"-35"||38"-41"|
|X Large||5'10" - 6'2"||190-210 lbs||41"-44"||36"-39"||40"-43"|
|XX Large||5'10" - 6'2"||210-225 lbs||44"-47"||39"-42"||42"-45"|
|XXX Large||5'10" - 6'2"||225-240 lbs||45"-48"||42"-45"||44"-47"|
WOMEN'S SIZE CHART:
Size Height Weight Chest Waist Hips
|4 (XXS)||5'1" - 5'3"||90-105 lbs||29"-31"||22"-24"||31"-33"|
|6 (XS)||5'2" - 5'4"||110-115 lbs||30"-32"||23"-25"||32"-34"|
|8 (S)||5'3" - 5' 5 1/2"||110-130 lbs||32"-34"||25"-27"||34"-36"|
|10 (M)||5'4" - 5' 7 1/2"||125-140 lbs||34"-36"||27"-29"||36"-38"|
|12 (L)||5'6" - 5'10"||135-150 lbs||36"-38"||29"-31"||38"-40"|
|14 (XL)||5'8" - 5'11"||145-160 lbs||38"-40"||31"-33"||41"-43"|
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