US 2905954 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Sept. 29, 1959 c. o. LANCIANO, JR 2,905,954
TRAPPED AIR LIFE PRESERVER Filed Aug. 1, 1957 3 Sheets-Sheet l l INVENTOR. i Claude diancz'arzgfi' g I WW Sept. 29, 1959 c. o LANCIANO, JR 2,905,954
TRAPPED AIR LIFE PRESERVER Filed Aug. 1, 1957 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR.
Chad? Qlmzciarzgfr 2 BY Sept. 29, 1959 c. o. LANCIANO, JR 7 2,905,954
' TRAPPED AIR LIFE PRESERVER Filed Aug. 1, 1957 s Sheets-Sheet 3 INVENTOR. Claude Qlarzcz'arzo, L z' BY M/ TRAPPED AIR LIFE PRESERVER Claude ()lwin Lanciano, Jr., Coke, Va.
Application August 1, 1957, Serial No. 675,785
4 Claims. (Cl. 9-20) (Granted under Title 35, US. Code (1952), sec. 266) The invention described herein may be manufactured and used by or for the Government for governmental purposes without the payment of any royalties thereon.
The present invention relates to life preservers and more particularly to a lightweight, self-inflatable, trapped air life preserver.
There are two principal types of life preservers in common use. One of these is the fixed pad type in which the porous flotation material may consist of cork, kapok, Fiberglas, polyvinyl chloride or similar material. One disadvantage of the fixed pad life preserver is that it is usually equipped with a bulky pad collar. This collar is cumbersome around the neck of the wearer and tends to interfere with head movement and other body movements which he may be required to perform while wearing the preserver; also, should the wearer fall into the body of water from a height of ten feet or more, serious head or neck injuries may frequently ensue from impact when the wearers body strikes the surface of the water. Other disadvantages of the fixed pad type preserver are that its bulk and heavy weight make the wearer prone to discard it or to wear it in such a fashion that its effectiveness is nullified when the wearer unexpectedly falls into water. Since fixed pad preservers are not inflatable, there is no means by which their buoyancy may be adjusted. This undesirable feature is in contrast to the better types of inflatable life preservers which are provided with oral inflation stems so that the wearer, once he is in the water, may further inflate the preserver for additional protection against wave action or may deflate it at will to provide more freedom for swimming.
The inflatable life preserver is the other common type of preserver in use today. One disadvantage of inflatable preservers is that they are inflated by the discharging of a C cartridge, and unless the wearer is conscious when he falls into the water and unless. an operable charged cartridge is present in the inflation unit the preserver will not be inflated. To avoid the chance of non-functioning or malfunctioning of this type of preserver, it is necessary to keep a supply of cartridges on hand and to make frequent inspections of the preserver itself. The alternative to reliance on charged cartridge inflation is for the wearer to wear the preserver in an inflated state. The disadvantages of this procedure are obvious; the preserver has inconvenient and restrictive bulk and is easily subject to puncturing.
Recent experience in the Armed Forces, especially during World War II and the Korean war, emphasized the need for a light-weight, self-inflating life preserver for use by personnel whose duties require them to operate near bodies of water. The need for this type of preserver is particularly great for personnel engaged in river-crossings or bridge construction operations. It was found that the fixed pad type of preserver unduly restricted the body action of bridge construction workers and greatly hindered their efiiciency when engaged in tasks such as moving, bending, climbing, working in ited States Pater areas of restricted clearances, lifting and carrying weights up to pounds, or swinging a hammer or sledge. These disadvantages induced personnel to either completely discard the preserver or else to wear it in a manner that nullified its effectiveness. The fixed pad preservers were ineffective in keeping the wearers nose and mouth safely out of the water, the degree of their buoyancy couid not be controlled, and this latter disadvantage made swimming very diflicult. The inflatable type preservers of the prior art also proved unsatisfactory because of the disadvantages which have been previously alluded to.
Accordingly, it is an object of the instant invention to provide a lightweight, self-inflating life preserver which is capable of holding the wearers face out of the water even when he is unconscious.
it is another object of the present invention to provide a life preserver of minimum bulk and weight which will not unduly restrict the body movement of a worker engaged in such strenuous tasks as bridge construction or river-crossing operations.
Another object of this invention is to provide a life preserver with means for automatic inflation regardless of whether the wearer is unconscious or overly excited.
Another object of the invention is to provide a selfinflating life preserver which will obviate the need for CO or similar inflation cartridges and which will retain residual buoyancy even if part of its structure i punctured or ripped.
Another object of the invention is to provide a life entered the water to permit increasing the buoyancy for additional wave protection or decreasing the buoyancy to make swimming easier.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a life preserver which will remain at least partially inflated at all times and yet have a breathing action when worn out of water which will prevent it from interfering with movements of the wearer and which will tend to become more fully inflated if the wearer falls from any height.
It is a still further object of the instant invention to provide a life preserver that is relatively simple, rugged, and foolproof, which requires an absolute minimum of care and maintenance, and which when adjusted properly on the wearer has no protruding, projecting or dangling parts to catch on objects nearby, or to trip the wearer.
Broadly described, the present invention is a selfinflating, trapped air life preserver, comprising a plurality of airtight, collapsible compartments open at their lower ends, an inflatable, airtight, collapsible collar, and means for conducting air displaced from the airtight compartments into the collar to inflate it.
In operation, when worn out of water, the collar of the life preserver lies flat on the neck and shoulders of the wearer and his body movements are relatively unencumbered because pressure against the air compartments causes them to expel air through the openings or ports resulting in partial collapse of the compartments at the point of pressure. The partial collapse of the air compartments respousive'to suflicient pressure from any part of the body prevents the preserver from interfering with the physical movements of the wearer.
their original shape and achieve their formed configuration by drawing air back through the openings or ports into the compartments.
If the wearer falls or is knocked into the water, he is Patented Sept. 29, 1959 Upon release of the pressure, the compartments tend to resume involuntarily rotated'by the turning movement created by the air trapped in the preserver into a head-up, near vertical position. Loss of air during rotation is nominal because the series of openings or ports are of relatively small diameter. Due to the pressure differential, water will enter the air compartments forcing the trapped air upward into the collar, automatically inflating it and lifting the wearers face out of the water. When the wearer emerges from the water, the compartments will void all water which they contain through the openings or ports in their lower ends.
Further objects and a more thorough understanding or the invention may be obtained by referring to the following description and claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which disclose an illustrative embodiment of the construction forming the basis of the invention and in which:
Fig. 1 is a front elevation of the life preserver in its deflated state;
Fig. 2 is a side elevation thereof;
Fig. 3 is a view similar to Fig. 1 showing the life preserver in its inflated state;
Fig. 4 is a side elevation thereof;
Fig. 5 is a disassembled perspective view showing the air compartments and the collar;
Fig. 6 is a vertical section of the parts shown in Fig. 5 but showing these parts in the assembled position;
Fig. 7 is a horizontal section taken along the line 77 of Fig. 6;
Fig. 8 is a perspective view of a modified form of the invention;
Fig. 9 is a vertical section taken along the line 9-9 of Fig. 8;
Fig. 10 is a horizontal section taken along the line 1010 of Fig. 9; and
Fig. 11, Fig. 12, Fig. 13, and Fig. 14 are sectional perspective views illustrating various modifications of the separators which may be used in the present invention.
In accordance with the invention, a life preserver jacket is provided having a plurality of airtight compartments open at their lower ends, an inflatable collar means, and means for conducting trapped air from the airtight compartments to the collar to inflate it.
In the present preferred embodiment of the invention, the plurality of airtight compartments comprises a series of resilient collapsible diaphragms having a series of openings or ports at their lower ends through which air may be either easily admitted or expelled to cause inflation or deflation of each diaphragm. The inflatable collar comprises a flexible, inflatable, horseshoe shaped diaphragm which may be readily inflated or deflated by the passage of air either into or out of the collar through the conducting means for transferring air between the airtight compartments and the inflatable collar.
In one of the illustrated preferred embodiments of the invention (Fig. 5), the plurality of airtight compartments comprises four thin-walled, collapsible, airtight, waterproof compartments. There are two rear compartments 16 and 18 and two front compartments 20 and 22. Each of the compartments 16, 18, 20, and 22 has an inner wall 24 and an outer wall 26. The two rear compartments 16 and 18 are joined side by side to form the back of the life preserver (Fig. 7). The outer walls 26 of the collapsible compartments 16, 18, 20, and 22 have built-in pleats or folds 28 which permit these compartments to readily assume a semi-collapsed state when the preserver is worn out of the water to help prevent the preserver from hampering body movements of the wearer.
A horseshoe shaped tube composed of the same flexible, waterproof material as the collapsible compartments forms the inflatable collar 30. A partition 32 divides the inflatable collar 30 into two separate compartments. A combined oral inflation and evacuation stem 34 is provided for each compartment of the collar, and a fastener 36 serves to hold the collar around the neck of the wearer. Theinflatable collar 30 may be designed with built-in pleats or folds 38 (as depicted in Fig. 1) which permit the collar to lie flat upon the neck and shoulders of the wearer when in its deflated state and occupy a minimum amount of space with as little interference as possible to movements of the wearer. The division of the collar into two compartments is a safety measure which prevents complete loss of buoyancy of the preserver should one side of the collar become punctured. Inflatable collar St) is provided with a series of openings 40 which connect each of the'collar compartments with two of the collapsible body compartments 16, 18, 20, and 22. If air is trapped in the collapsible body compartments, it will automatically be transmitted through these openings 44 to the inflatable collar 30 to completely inflate it.
An expanded compartment 42 is attached to the lower end of each of the collapsible compartments 16, 18, 20, and 22 in an airtight, watertight manner and so that the expanded compartments 42 project into the bottom portion of each collapsible compartment. Each expanded compartment 42 is provided with a series of ports or openings 44 along its upper surface so that air or water may freely pass between each collapsible compartment and the expanded compartment 42 with which it is associated. Like the collapsible compartments 16, 18, 20, and 22 each expanded compartment 42 has an inner wall 46 and an outer wall 48. Between the inner wall 46 and outer wall 48 of each expanded compartment 42 are a series of separators 50 which are flexible enough to permit the outer wall 48 to be pressed in toward the inner wall 46 responsive to the application of outside pressure on the outer wall 48 but resilient enough to return the outer wall 48 of the expanded compartment 42 to its original position once the application of external pressure is terminated. The lower end of each of the expanded compartments 42 is open to the atmosphere and when the wearer is maintaining a normal relaxed position each of the expanded compartments 42 will remain in a fully expanded state; however, if sufficient pressure is exerted by contact with some outside force or object the outer wall 48 of the expanded compartment 42 will collapse against the inner wall 46 when the separators 50 give way, and in this manner the expanded compartments 42 are made relatively resistant to injury or puncturing and olfer a minimum of interference to movement by the wearer.
If the wearer of the life preserver should fall into the water, the separators 50 will virtually insure that the expanded compartments 42 are all in an expanded full volume configuration, and when the wearers body enters the water the air in these expanded compartments 42 will be trapped and forced upward by pressure differential to the ports or openings 44 to fully inflate the collapsible compartments 16, 18, 20, and 22 and the inflatable collar 30. Due to the construction of the expanded compartments 42, the lower part of each of the collapsible compartments 16, 18, 20, and 22 will be partially inflated with air. This air, plus the air in the expanded compartments 42, is suflicient to fully inflate the preserver.
An elastic strip 52 holds each of the expanded compartments 42 in its proper relative position on the wearer. Suitable fasteners 54 are provided to close the front of the life preserver in the manner in which the front of an ordinary vest is fastened (Figs. 1, 3, and 7). The completely assembled preserver, which may be additionally protected with a suitable fabric covering, is depicted in a deflated state in Figs. 1 and 2 and in an inflated state in Figs. 3 and 4.
A second form or embodiment of the invention is shown in Figs. 8, 9, and 10. In this embodiment (Fig. 8), the airtight compartments comprise an expanded rear compartment 56 and two expanded side compartments 5S and 60. Each of the expanded compartments 56, 58, and 60 has an inner wall 62 which lies next to the wearers body and an outer wall 64, which in this embodiment is provided with studs 66 so that each of the expanded compartments may be firmly attached to the inside layer of a protective outer garment. The separator strips 68 (Fig. 9) made of rubber, plastic, or some other suitable material are used between the inner wall 62 and outer wall 64 of each of the compartments 56, 58, and 60 to keep them in an expanded or inflated state. Since each of the expanded compartments 56, 58, and 6%) is supplied with a series of ports or openings 75) along its lower edge, if suflicient pressure is placed on the outer wall 64 of one of the expanded compartments, the separator strips 68 will give way permitting the outer wall 64 to cave in towards the inner wall 62 while air is expelled through the ports or openings 7 0. When the pressure is released from the outer wall 64 the separator strips 68 will act to return the outer wall 64 to its normal expanded position and the resulting pressure difierential between the inside of the expanded compartment and the atmosphere will cause air to be drawn in through the ports or openings 70 to reexpand or re-inflate the compartments.
An inflatable horseshoe shaped collar 72 also forms a part of this embodiment. When the preserver is worn out of the water, the inflatable collar 72 is in a deflated state and lies flat against the neck and shoulders of the wearer. However, as soon as the wearer enters the water, water will enter the expanded compartments 56, 58, and 60 through the ports or openings 70, and since the inflatable collar 72 is connected to each of the expanded compartments 56, 58, and 60 by a suitable means for conducting air from the expanded compartments into the inflatable collar 72, such as flexible plastic tubes 74 as shown in the illustrated embodiment (Fig. 8), the pressure differential between the inflatable collar 72 and the expanded compartments will force air through the flexible tubes 74 up into the inflatable collar 72 to cause its inflation. When the lower part of each of the expanded compartments 56, 58, and 60 has become partially filled with water, the pressures will equalize and the inflatable collar 72 and the expanded compartments will be in a fully inflated state.
Each of the expanded compartments 56, 58, and 60 is held in its proper relative position by means of a belt 76 which is attached to the inner wall 62 of each expanded compartment in some suitable manner. When the belt 76 is fastened around the waist of the wearer each of the expanded compartments will then be in its proper position. The inflatable collar 72 is provided with a fastener 78 so that it may be secured around the neck of the wearer, and is also provided with an oral inflation and evacuation stem 30. This stem 80 permits the wearer to orally further inflate the preserver once he has entered the water or to deflate it if he desires to obtain more freedom for swimming.
Alternative embodiments for the separator strips 50 and 68 are shown in Figs. 11, 12, 13, and 14. Transverse partitions of rub-her, plastic, or other flexible material 82 are disclosed in Fig. 11. Fig. 12 shows spindles of rubber or plastic 84. A small block of foam rubber or foam plastic 86 is disclosed as a separator in Fig. 13, and Fig. 14 depicts the use of small stainless steel or plastic coil springs 88.
As shown in the illustrated embodiment, the instant invention provides a lightweight, simple, relatively foolproof, self-inflating life preserver, which, when worn out of the water, offers an absolute minimum of interference with the the body movements and actions of the wearer, but which will inflate itself with the trapped air which it contains even if the wearer should fall into the water in an unconscious state. The inflatable collar which, when the life preserver is worn out of the water, lies flat on the neck and shoulders of the wearer, becomes quickly inflated with the trapped air when the wearer becomes Water borne, and even if the wearer is unconscious the inflation of the collar will lift his nose and mouth clear of the water and protect him from drowning. The present invention, by providing a lightweight, self-inflating life preserver which, because of its breathing action, offers a minimum of hindrance to the body movements of a construction worker and which is so efficient as a life preserver that it will prevent an unconscious man from drowning should he be knocked into the water, fulfills a long felt need in reducing the loss of human life in dangerous river-crossing and bridge construction operations. This need had not been met by previous types of life preservers.
Having thus described my invention, What I claim as new and wish to secure by Letters Patent is:
1. A self-inflating life preserver comprising in combination a plurality of airtight, collapsible compartments open at their lower ends, an inflatable airtight collar connected with the compartments for inflation by displacement of air trapped within said compartments, a plurality of resilient expanded compartments open at their lower ends, each expanded compartment joined to one of the collapsible compartments by an airtight, watertight seal, and each expanded compartment connected by an opening in its upper end to the lower end of its associated collapsible compartment to permit free passage of air and water between the expanded compartment and its associated collapsible compartment.
2. A self-inflating life preserver as recited in claim 1, in which resilient separators are provided between the interior walls of the expanded compartments to automatically return the expanded compartments to their original expanded conformation whenever an outside pressure tending to collapse them is released.
3. A self-inflating life preserver comprising in combination a plurality of airtight expanded compartments having openings in their lower ends and resilient separators between the interior walls of the expanded compartments to automatically return the compartments to their original expanded conformation whenever an outside pressure tending to collapse them is released, an inflatable collar, a plurality of flexible tubes connecting the upper end of each expanded compartment with the inflatable collar so that the collar will be automatically inflated by the displacement of a trapped volume of air from the expanded compartments into the collar.
4. A self-inflating life preserver comprising in combination a plurality of airtight, collapsible compartments open at their lower ends and having resilient separators between the interior walls of the expanded compartments to automatically return the compartments to their original expanded conformation whenever an outside pressure tending to collapse them is released, an inflatable collar divided into separate airtight portions by a partition, the top of each airtight, collapsible compartment opening into one of the portions of the inflatable collar so that a volume of air trapped in the collapsible compartments will automatically be displaced into the inflatable collar to inflate it.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 998,698 Klint July 25, 1911 2,292,490 Stokes Aug. 11, 1942 2,722,020 Gazelle Nov. 1, 1955