The diving wetsuit
is a protective garment used for scuba diving. A modern, warm-water wetsuit
is mostly made from thin open-cell neoprene, which provides limited thermal
protection for activities under cold water, but protects the wearer in
warm water from sun exposure. Cold-water wetsuits are built differently,
have seams which do not leak, and provide good protection from cold water
(to about 45°F, or 8°C) for up to 60 minutes in shallow water
(less than 10 meters or 33 feet.
Wetsuits help to preserve body heat by trapping a layer of water against the skin; this water is consequently warmed by body heat and acts as an insulator. Water conducts heat away from the body approximately 25 times more efficiently than air, so an unprotected individual can succumb to hypothermia even in warm water on a warm day.
Wetsuits are made out of closed-cell, foam neoprene, a synthetic rubber that contains small bubbles of nitrogen gas when made for use as wetsuit material. Nitrogen gas has very low thermal conductivity, so it reduces heat from the body from being lost to the water outside of the wetsuit.
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