Show Of Hands

OK, where were we before we were so rudely interrupted? Oh yeah, our un-lucky aviator has survived a ditching at sea, managed to inflate and climb aboard his life raft and not lose (I’ll touch on the subject of not losing stuff later) the ELT, PLB, handheld aviation radio, and satellite phone. He’s also warm and toasty in his thick neoprene survival suit covering multiple layers of non-cotton underwear and clothes. Things are looking good! All you need to do is turn on the ELT or PLB to let everyone know where you are, contact a passing airliner on the handheld aviation radio and let them know what condition you’re in, then order a pizza on the Sat phone and wait for the rescue Uber. (If I were him I’d Opt for the Black Uber option) There’s only one problem. You’re wearing a thick Neoprene Survival suit with built-in gloves that only have two huge fingers and a fat thumb. Basically you’re wearing rubber oven mitts. Good luck doing anything that normally requires fingers. immersion-suit-lalizas-2Now yes there are some survival suits that have removable gloves that you can take off but there are two things that I don’t like about them. First, both times I went through the open water survival course in Iceland I used a suit that had removable gloves and both times the only thing that got cold when I jumped into the ocean were my hands. The gloves don’t fit tight enough to keep water out and even though the water in the glove eventually got wormed up by my body heat my hands were still cold. (The cuffs around my wrists also let in a little bit of water but not very much) When you jump into the water in a suit with gloves that don’t come off your whole body stays DRY! Your hands are DRY! Did I make my point about liking to stay DRY while I’m floating around in the North Atlantic? And secondly, suits with integrated gloves are what you get when you rent suits in Goose Bay or Wick Scotland. You use what you get. (There are some newer/more expensive suits on the market and maybe someday I’ll buy one but that day ain’t today.)

new suit                                  This one has a face shield that might come in handy.

So step one, dig out the electronic devices you brought with you from the plane before it went down. How did you get them out of the plane without losing them? That’s a very important question because if you drop them or the raft getting out of the plane you’re screwed. The system I’ve developed over the years is to have my “MUST NOT LOSE!” items zipped inside my survival suit instead of in some kind of case or bag that I have to hang onto. That way I have my hands free to hang onto the raft and climb out of twisted, sinking, God damned door’s jammed, upside down pice of shit airplane…….at night.

I’ll cover exactly what I have in my “MUST NOT LOSE!” survival kit in another post but almost all the items have one thing in common, the are in individual Ziploc bags and if they’re important enough (like the electronics) they are double bagged. Because salt water = BAD. So to get at anything at all you’re going to have to open two heavy duty Ziploc storage bags for each item, ever try that wearing oven mitts? And even if you do manage to tear open the bags with your teeth you still have to turn on and operate the fancy do dad you brought with. Oh and be careful not to drop it because the bottom of the raft probably has six inches of sea water in it and if you drop something that’s not waterproof it’s now junk.  I’ve practiced turning on the old ELTs’ while wearing the survival suit and even though you have to pull up on the toggle switch that activates the beacon before you can turn it on I was able to do it with the oven mitts on, sitting in my hotel room. The PLB was a little more difficult (had to use my teeth) but I still got it done, again in my hotel room, not, wet, cold, seasick, getting tossed around in a tiny raft……at night. So what’s our un-lucky aviator to do? ( I hate calling him that, I need to give this fictitious pilot a name. Hans? Roderick? Thorby? I have to be careful naming him because if I end up liking him I’ll have a hard time killing him in the end. Hmmm…..Charles?   Yes, Charles it is.  So Chuck, what ya gonna do? You already had to un-zip the front of your survival suit to get the “DO NOT LOSE!” kit out you might as well pull one of your arms out of the neoprene sleeve and use your bare hand to operate all the fancy toys you brought along. If I’m sitting in a covered raft that’s what I’d do. You won’t get your suit filled with sea water, it shouldn’t be THAT cold inside the raft so you shouldn’t lose too much body heat, and once you’re done doing what you need to do you can zip up again. Of course getting your arm out of the sticky rubber suit might be difficult if your arms, or shoulders, or back, or hips were injured in the crash, best not to think about such things. Oh, and it’s also best not to think about what you’d do if you lost the raft and are just bobbing in the ocean in your survival suit. Crap, now I have to tell Charles what to do in that case.

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