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Publication numberUS3911913 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 14, 1975
Filing dateOct 5, 1973
Priority dateOct 5, 1973
Publication numberUS 3911913 A, US 3911913A, US-A-3911913, US3911913 A, US3911913A
InventorsJune Ethel L
Original AssigneeJune Ethel L
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Survival apparatus
US 3911913 A
Abstract
Compactly storable survival equipment that includes a protection suit and an inflatable collision cocoon. The double-walled cocoon entrance which can be closed by a suited means within the same, and the cocoon can then be inflated to its expanded and protective condition by the introduction of pressured gas into the double wall. A harness serves to secure the suited wearer in the cocoon, and survival devices are carried by the harness. The cocoon has flexibly covered openings whereby the suited wearer can alternatively withdraw his limbs into and extend them from the cocoon.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

' United States Patent 1191 June [ SURVIVAL APPARATUS [76] Inventor: Ethel L. June, 4700 SE. Blvd.,

Wichita, Kans. 67210 221 Fi1ed: Oct. 5, 1973 21 Appl. No.: 403,808

[52] US. Cl 128/l42.5; 128/145 R; 9/11 A;

9/312; 52/2; 272/1 B [51] Int. Cl A62b 7/00 [58] Field of Search 128/142.5, 142.4, 142.6,

128/142.7, 142.3, 142.1, 142.2, 132 R, 1 A, 1 B, 28, 1 R, 204,140 R, 145 R, 191 R, 191

A; 52/2 R; 135/1 R; 272/1 B, 1 R; 9/340, 316,336, 312, 310 H, 11 A; 2/2 R, 2.1 R, 2.1

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,112,881 10/1914 Abbate 9/312 1,185,386 5/1916 Edlund 9/312 3,042,926 7/1962 Shepard 2/2.1 R

1 51 Oct. 14, 1975 3,049,896 8/1962 Webb 2/2 R 3,130,413 4/1964 Schueller... 2/2.1 A

3,212,286 10/1965 Oirtis 2/2.1 A 3,768,467 10/1973 Jennings 128/145 R 3,769,972 11/1973 Saint-Martin 129/1425 Primary ExaminerRichard A. Gaudet Assistant Examiner-Henry J. Recla Attorney, Agent, or FirmRobert E. Breidenthal ABSTRACT Compactly storab1e survival equipment that includes a protection suit and an inflatable collision cocoon. The double-walled cocoon entrance which can be closed by a suited means within the same, and the cocoon can then be inflated to its expanded and protective condition by the introduction of pressured gas into the double wall. A harness serves to secure the suited wearer in the cocoon, and survival devices are carried by the harness. The cocoon has flexibly covered openings whereby the suited wearer can alternatively withdraw his limbs into and extend them from the cocoon.

14 Claims, 19 Drawing Figures U.S. Patent Oct.14,1975 Sheet1of6 3,911,913

U.S. Patent 0a. 14, 1975 Sheet 2 of6 3,911,913

US. Patent 0a. 14, 1975 Sheet 3 of6 3,911,913

US. Patent Oct. 14, 1975 Sheet 4 of6 3,911,913

US. Patent Oct. 14, 1975 Sheet 5 of6 3,911,913

US. Patent 0a. 14, 1975 shw 6 of 6 ZIO SURVIVAL APPARATUS The present invention pertains to new and useful improvements in survival equipment, and escpecially relates to such equipment that affords protection during collision; provides shelter from a hostile environment such as flame and smoke at a collision site; permits the performance of tasks such as escaping the site and the giving of aid to others while affording such shelter; provides buoyance in the event of a water crash; and which includes tools and supplies for survival subsequent to the circumstances immediate attendant upon a crash or collision.

One of the most important objectives of the present invention is to enable an individual on short notice to minimize injury to himself during a collision, to protect himself against drowning, fire and smoke at a crash site.

Another important objective is to enable an individual to escape and to aid others to escape from a crash site while receiving protection against any hostile environment that may be an immediate consequence of a crash or collision.

A further important objective of the invention in accordance with the preceding objectives is to equip and to place at the immediate disposal of an individual that has survived a crash and escaped from the crash site a supply of devices for the purpose of providing for his continued survival and well being.

To a progressively greater extent within the last few years the public has become more interested in safety devices and the establishment and maintenance of a safer environment. This has extended to the provision of devices to reduce the personal injuries attending vehicular collisions as witness the current urgent program of the automotive industry under the spurs of governmental supervision to develop shock or energy absorption bumper systems, and to produce an air bag inflatable to cushion the deceleration of automobile occupants in the event of a frontal collision.

While the present invention could conceivably be utilized by occupants of surface vehicles, such as trains, buses, automobiles, hydrofoil boats, etc., the present invention has its greatest utility in connection with vehicles of such character that the likelihood or imminence of a collision or crash will be known more than a few seconds in advance of the expected event. The character of the survival apparatus of the present invention is that it must be worn in order for it to perform its function. As the wearing of the same would no doubt be deemed inconvenient, at least by those that would not even buckle conventional automobile seat belts, and as donning the apparatus takes an appreciable period of time, the apparatus of the present invention will have its greatest utility in vehicles of such nature that the likelihood of a collision or the existence of exceptional crash danger will or can be known a sufficient time in advance as to allow donning of the equipment. Accordingly, the apparatus of the present invention will be of greatest utility in aircraft, spacecraft, and in surface vehicles of such extraordinary peril as to warrant continuous wearing.

A background appreciation of representative proposals heretofore made relative to survival or crash equipment may be obtained on considering the following US. patents:

2,403,203 Young July 2, 1946 3,105,981 Bennett October 8, 1963 1,133,202 Train et al March 23, 1915 2,327,169 Bucknell August 17, 1943 3,092,854 Manhart June 11, 1963 3,058,127 Hassold October 16, 1962 The apparatus of the present invention involves a suit which affords total coverage of the wearer excepting only openings for breathing and seeing. Such suit itself is largely double-walled and is inflatable as to the space between the walls so as to afford in itself a cushioning effect. The space between the suit walls is provided with partitions that serve to define a series of isolated chambers and to limit the spacing between the walls. Check valves are provided in the partitions so as to enable the series of chambers to be inflated from an air or gas source connected to one of the chambers with such valves preventing a chamber from becoming deflated if an upstream chamber is ruptured or punctured.

A harness including a belt is releasably fastened about the suited wearer and the harness has secured thereto pressurized air or inert gas bottles for inflating the suit and for inflating the cocoon or double-walled inflatable protective shell. The belt also can carry other articles or article containers such as knives; survival hunting and fishing kits; medicines, drugs and bandages; flashlight; rescue signal equipment such as signal mirrors and distress radio transmitter; and emergency rations, etc.

The harness is attached at a plurality of spatially distributed points to positions distributed about the interior of a double-walled cocoon so that the torso of the user is held in a position more or less centered within the cocoon when the latter is inflated.

The cocoon has an entrance that can be closed by a suited wearer inside the same preferably prior to inflation of the cocoon. The cocoon can be closed after inflation but with greater difficulty, and of course the cocoon can be opened after inflation, and in any event, the suited wearer can use the previously mentioned knife to emerge from the cocoon.

The cocoon is double-walled whereby the same can be inflated, and as in the case of the suit, the space is partitioned and provided with check valves in the partitions for similar purposes.

A suited occupant of an inflated cocoon can draw himself into the fetal position entirely within the protective, egg or prolate spheroid envelope of the cocoon in anticipation of a collision, and thereafter extend his limbs through openings that are provided with closures in the form of flexible sleeves so as to be able to move about and perform chores, such as to assist others and the like.

Restricted ventilation or fluid commuication is provided between the exterior and the interior of the cocoon as well as an opening for external viewing, the latter opening being provided with a visor of transparent character.

Means is provided whereby the occupant of the inflated suit and cocoon can selectively breathe air in the space between the suit and the cocoon and air ambient to the cocoon; and in the latter instance from air at a location largely selectable by the occupant.

Materials for the suit and the cocoon are selected for superior performance in their intended functions in their anticipated environment of use. Pre-eminent among such characteristics are strength, flexibility and durability, especially at extreme temperatures (high and low), resistance to flame damage and being noninflammable. The outer surfaces of the cocoon and the limb sleeves can be of reflective character (metalized or aliminum coated as in the case of the fire approach and entry uniforms of fire fighters) to reflect radiant heat energy.

A broad aspect of the invention involves in survival apparatus, a protective shelter comprising a doublewalled, generally spherical, hollow shell having an elongated access opening, means operable from the interior of the shell by an occupant thereof for selectively closing said opening, said double-walled shell including inner and outer flexible walls defining an inflatable and substantially airtight space therebetween, connecting means in said space limiting the separation of the inner and outer walls, and means operable from the interior of the shell by an occupant thereof for introducing a gas into the space under a pressure substantially in excess of ambient pressure whereby the shell is expanded forcefully to its generally spherical configuration and strongly tends to retain and regain such configuration against any deforming forces, whereby an occupant of the shell can be cushioned in a collision situation as well as shielded from harmful conditions that might exist immediately subsequent to a collision.

Another broad aspect of the invention having utility with and apart from the apparatus of the preceding paragraph involves a collision survival suit comprising a garment including portions adapted to enclose the torso, head, limbs and limb extremities, said garment including means for enabling respiration and visual observation by the wearer thereof, said garment being double-walled in a substantial portion of its extent to define a gas inflatable space, whereby the garment can cushion the wearer on the occurrence of a collision, and means for introducing a pressurized gas into the space in the garment.

The invention will be best understood and the features thereof most appreciated in the light of the following description of a preferred embodiment, such description being given in conjunction with the accompanying drawings illustrative thereof, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a suited person within the inflated protective cocoon with legs extended, with the cocoon being shown in vertical section;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary isometric detail of the harness and illustrates equipment carried on the belt thereof;

FIG. 3 is a horizontal sectional view taken upon the plane of the section line 33 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of a suited wearer, such view being largely in section and with certain hidden details being in dashed outline;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged horizontal sectional detail view taken upon the plane of the section line 55 in FIG.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged horizontal sectional view taken upon the plane of the section line 66 in FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a greatly enlarged sectional detail view of one of the check valves provided in the partitions;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a partially suited person, with the head gear removed and the front of the suit unfastened;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged sectional detail view across a closed portion of the front suit opening;

FIG. 10 is an enlarged detail view partly in section of the solid-type sliding fastener;

FIG. 11 is an enlarged sectional detail view of a foot and lower leg portion of the suit, and illustrates that the leg portion is double-walled;

FIGS. 12 and 13 are respectively generally front and rear views of a suited wearer, dashed lines serving to show hidden details;

FIG. 14 is a fragmentary sectional detail view through the upper front of the protective cocoon to show the visored eye or viewing opening;

FIG. 15 is an enlarged sectional detail view illustration of the double-wall structure of the cocoon with the walls being connected by partitions having a check valve opening therethrough;

FIG. 16 is an isometric view of a portable container wherein is stored a collapsed and folded cocoon and its associated harness and suit, a portion of the container being shown broken away to expose to view a portion of its collapsed and folded contents;

FIG. 17 shows an inflated cocoon with flexible sleeves for arms and legs extended to accommodate extension of such portions of the suited occupants body, with a part of the structure being broken away and shown in section, and with the fetal position which can be assumed by the occupant being shown in dashed outline; and,

FIGS. 18 and 19 are respectively generally front and rear views of an erect suited wearer in an inflated cocoon with arms withdrawn, each of such views showing portions of the cocoon broken away and showing hidden portions of the suit and the harness in dashed out line.

Referring now to the drawings wherein like numerals designate like parts throughout the various views, the reference numeral 10 designates generally a person, the reference numeral 12 designates generally an inflatable protective suit for the person 10, the reference numeral 14 designates generally an inflatable protective shell or cocoon for a persion 10 wearing the suit 12, and the reference numeral 16 designates generally a harness for interconnecting the cocoon l4 and a suited person 10 and 12 and upon which is carried emergency and survival equipment.

Giving initial consideration to the suit 12, it will be seen that the latter comprises an entire body covering (except as specifically pointed out) and includes a body portion 18, from which depend separate leg portions 20 and 22 and arm portions 24 and 26. The outer extremities of the leg portions 20 and 22 terminate respectively in integral shoe-like structures 28 and 30 of such size as to accommodate the feet of the person 10. The outer extremities of the arm portions 24 and 26 terminate in integral glove-like structures 32 and 34.

The suit 12 also includes a helmet portion 36 that is flexibly connected in a hoodlike fashion to the rear of the upper or neck end of the body 18 of the suit 12 as indicated at 38 in the same manner as is common in socalled snowsuits or in traditional Eskimo clothing.

The front of the body 18 of the suit 12 has a central elongated opening 40 with the side edges 42 and 44 defining the opening 40 being formed with coacting tongue 46 and groove 48 that together with a slide means 50 constitutes a slide fastener means 52 for opening and closing the opening 40. The operation of the slide fastener means 52 is well known and aside from noting that the material consituting the tongue 46 and groove 48 is resilient, a description is not necessary. The slide fastener means 52 is spaced from one edge of the opening 40 in such a manner that a portion of the suit 12 constitutes a flap 54 that overlies the slide fastener means 52 when the opening 40 is closed by the latter.

The hood or helmet 36 when swung upwardly and positioned over the head of the person 10, is secured in the position shown thereof in FIGS. 4, l2 and 13 by means of slide fastener means 56 extending along the adjoining edges of the helmet 36 and the suit body portion 18. The arrangement is such that the suit 12 completely covers and protects all parts of the person (the torso, the head, and the limbs including the extremities of the latter), excepting only the eyes and the nose as a slot 60 is provided in the helmet 36 enabling the person to see and as an opening 62 is provided at the location of the persons nose or nostrils to enable breathing as will be further explained later. If desired or deemed expedient, the viewing slot 60 can be provided with a transparent closure, not shown.

A large portion of the suit 12, including the helmet part thereof, is double-walled, and indeed, the foot portions 28 and 30 and the gloves 32 and 34 are the only principal or very sizable exceptions. The double-walled part of the suit 12 is constituted of an inner wall 64 and outer wall that are hermetically or integrally joined together at the boundaries of the double-walled extent of the unit, such as at 68 adjacent the foot portion 28 as shown in FIG. 11 so as to define an enclosed space 70 that embraces nearly the entire person 10, excepting necessary or desirable interruptions about the person 10 such as at the hands and feet, over the eyes and nose, and along the extents of the slide fastener means 52 and the similar means, not shown, that secures the helmet 36. It will be understood that there is but a single space 70 and that there is free communication between all portions thereof except as hereinafter specifically pointed out; it being noted that such communication extends through the region of permanent attachment 38 of the helmet 36 to the rest of the suit 12.

The space 70 defined by the double-walled suit 12 (including the helmet 36) is subdivided into a plurality of isolated chambers or compartments by a plurality of partitions or walls that sealingly and flexibly join the inner and outer walls 64 and 66. A partition wall 72 joins the walls 64 and 66 in a generally horizontal fashion below the opening 40 and about the waist of the person 10, and the inner and outer walls 64 and 66 are joined about each knee region by a partition wall 74 shown in FIG. 4. The partition walls 74, the partition wall 72 and the inner and outer walls 64 and 66 define an isolated chamber or subdivision 76 of the space 70, and such chamber 76 is separated from two chambers below the walls 74 such as the chamber 78 shown below one of the walls 74 in FIG. 4. Another chamber 80 of toroidal configuration is defined above the partition wall 72 and below a partition wall 82, and a chamber 84 is defined above the partition wall 82.

The partition walls 72, 74 and 82 serve to limit the spacing between the inner and outer suit walls 64 and 66 and tend (when the space 70 is inflated) to keep such walls more or less uniformly spaced.

Means 86 is provided for introducing air or other pressurized gas into the space 70; more specifically,

into the isolated chamber 76. Check valve or unidirectional valve means are provided in the partition walls whereby gas can flow from the chamber 76 to the chambers 78, and also from the chamber 76 to the isolated chamber and thence from the latter to the isolated chamber 84. Such gas flow whereby the chambers 78 can be inflated from the chamber 76 comprises a check valve 90 in each of the partition walls 74. Check valves 92 and 94 are respectively provided in walls 72 and 82 whereby gas can flow from the chamber 76 to the chamber 80 and from the latter to the chamber 84.

The check valves 90, 92 and 94 are essentially identical to each other and a detailed description of one will suffice for all. I

The check valve 92 is shown in section in FIG. 7 wherein it will be seen that the same includes a valve body 96 comprised of two sections 98 and 100 that are of reduced size and threadingly joined at 102 through an opening 104 in the partition wall 72, the arrangement being such that the wall 72 is sealingly gripped between the valve body sections 98 and 100.

A central passageway 106 extends through the body 96 and the passageway is centrally enlarged at 108 to contain a compression spring 110 that urges a ball valve 112 towards an annular valve seat 114. The check valve 92 is conventional in operation as downward flow through the passageway 106 (as viewed in FIG. 7) is prevented, while a small pressure differential favoring the under side of the wall 72 (that is, chamber 76 over chamber 80) will unseat the ball valve 114 and permit air to flow from the chamber 76 to chamber 80. The spring 110 is of very slight strength and is preferably only sufficient to maintain the valve 92 closed when the valve 92 is inverted when the pressures in the chambers 76 and 80 are equal.

In the light of the foregoing, the entire suit 12 can be inflated from the means 86. In the event the chamber 76 is thereafter ruptured or loses gas pressure, the valves 90 and 92 prevent loss of gas from chambers 78, 80 and 84. Should either of the chambers or chamber 80 lose pressure, only chamber-76 can lose pressure as a result thereof. Even if chamber 84 loses pressure, chambers 78 will not lose pressure in such a case.

The inflation of the double-walled suit 12 affords greater protection for the person 10 wearing the same. Parts of the person 10 especially sensitive to shock or more likely to sustain blows or impact are provided with additional protection such as by the provision of outer wall, integrally attached thick rubber or cushion bands and 122 about the knees, similar bands 124 and 126 about the elbows and a chest pad 128. The outer wall of the helmet 36 is provided with an integrally attached rubber or cushion pad 130 covering the general brain cage or cranial region. Shoulder protectors 132 and 134 of similar nature are provided.

The materials selected for the suit 12 are selected on the basis of several important criteria such as flexibility under extremes of temperature; strength and resistance to wear, rupture, tearing, puncture and the like, and especially their resistance to chemical and thermal attack. As the suit 12 is inflatable, it is of course obvious that the materials selected should be impervious to air, and water too as the suit 12 can serve to support a person on the sea. The double-walled suit 12 will serve as a life preserver and more in that the suit 12 will insulate the person 10 from frigid waters that would otherwise spell a speedy demise.

Considerable guidance in the selection of and availability of materials for the suit 12 can be obtained on reference to a booklet by Lewis B. Everett, P.E., C.S.P., entitled WHAT EXECUTIVES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PROTECTIVE CLOTHING, and in the references listed on page 10 of such publication.

Suitable materials for th suit 12 can be comprised of a fabric woven of ultra-fine glass fiber, high temperature resistant nylon fiber, or polyester resin that is treated or filled with neoprene or other suitable resin to render the same impervious while protecting the fabric. A flame retardant substance such as mineral wool or asbestos can be used as a filler of or coated on the outward facing surfaces of the neoprene material. The outer surface of the suit 12 can be metallized as by aluminum for its characteristic of reflecting radiant energy as mentioned in connection with fire approach and entry uniforms referred to on page 5 of the previously mentioned publication of the Du Pont Co. The foot or boot portitons 28 and 30, as well as the gloves 32 and 34 can be made of similar materials while the boot portions 28 are made of additional materials containing aluminized asbestos.

The means 86 for introducing a gas under pressure into chamber 76 of the space 70 comprises a pressure vessel 140 disposed externally of the suit 12 which as communication with the interior of the chamber 76 by way of a conduit 142 that sealingly extends through the outer wall 66 through an opening 143 in the latter. The conduit 142 is provided with a manually operable valve means 144 for controlling the admission of gas into the chamber 76. Preferably the valve means 144 is of such conventional character as to admit, when opened, gas into the chamber 76 at a pressure which exceeds ambient pressure by an amount not exceeding a predetermined value, whereby the user need only open the valve means 144 with the latter effectively closing when the pressure in the chamber exceeds ambient pressure enough to inflate but not rupture the confines of the space 70. The valve means 144 can of course be closed if a lesser suit pressure is desired or to conserve gas if the space 70 becomes ruptured in any way.

The pressurized gas vessel 140 is supported by and mounted on the belt portion of the harness means 16 that is disposed within the cocoon 14.

The cocoon 14 is generally spherical in shape though somewhat more of an egg or prolate spheroid shape as clearly shown in the drawings. The cocoon 14 is of a double walled construction comprised of spaced inner and outer walls 150 and 152 that defines a confined space 154 therebetween. The walls 150 and 152 are connected and spaced by a plurality of partition walls 156, 158 and 160 that subdivide the confined space 154 into isolated chambers 162, 164, 166 and 168 all in a manner analogous to the subdivision of the space 70 in the suit 12. Means 170 inclusive of pressurized gas bottles 172 and 173 mounted on the harness 16 and flexible hoses 174 and 175 provided for introducing pressurized gas into the chamber 164 through sealed connections (such as the one illustrated at 176 with respect to the hose 174) through the inner wall 150. The vessels 172 and 173 are respectively connected to the hoses 174 and 175 through combined valve and pressure regulating means 178 and 179 that are generally similar to the valve means 144. The provision of the two pressure bottles enables faster inflation, as well as making inflation possible by the occupant using either hand, it being understood that each bottle has sufficient capacity to inflate the cocoon.

The partition 156 is provided with check valves 180 and 182 to allow flow of gas from the chamber 164 to the chamber 162. Similarly the partition wall 158 is provided with check valves 184 and 186, and the partition wall is provided with check valves 188 and 190. The check valves 180, 182, 184, 186, 188 and 190 are all analogous to the check valve 92, the arrangement being such that gas introduced by the means into the chamber 164 fills the chamber 162 through the valves and 182, and the chamber 166 is filled through the valves 184 and 186. The chamber 168 is filled from the chamber 166 through the check valves 188 and 190.

As in the case of the suit 12, the cocoon or doublewalled shell 14 is provided with an elongated access opening 192 which can be opened and closed by the person 10 from while the cocoon by means of a slide fastener means.

As in the case of the suit 12, the slide fastener means 194 is not necessarily airtight so as to preserve the fluidtight confinement of the space 154, but is as much so as is conveniently and practically possible. This is possible by reason of the inner and outer walls 150 and 152 being sealingly joined by walls bounding the access opening 192 such as the sealing wall 198 shown in FIG. 14. Such sealing provision is similar to that employed in the suit 12, and as will be seen presently, similar sealing provisions are made about other openings presently to be described that extend from the exterior to the interior of the cocoon 14. It will be evident that walls such as that illustrated at 198 also tend strongly to preserve or maintain a generally uniform spacing of the inner and outer walls 150 and 152 when the space 154 is inflated from the means 170.

The cocoon 14 is provided with a set of four openings through which a person 10 disposed within the cocoon 14 can extend his arms and legs, it being noted that the internal dimension of the cocoon 14 along its major vertical axis is such as to conform approximately in a generous fashion to the distance between the crotch and the top of the head of a suited person 10.

One of the two closely spaced openings provided for the legs of the person 10 is indicated at 200 in FIG. 1, and such opening 200 is bounded by a wall 202 sealingly connecting the inner and outer walls 150 and 152 to preserve the sealed character of the space 154 as in the case of the access opening 192.

A large flexible sleeve or tube 204 has its open end sealingly secured to the outer wall 154 about the opening 200 as indicated at 206. The outer end of the sleeve 204 is closed as at 208 and the overall dimensions of the closed sleeve 204 is such as to accommodate the leg of the person 10 when the leg is extended through the opening 200. A similar closed sleeve 210 is provided for the other leg of the person 10.

In an analogous manner arm openings 212 (sealed with respect to the space 154) are provided for the arms of the person 10, and such openings are provided with flexible sleeves 214 and 216 that are analogous to the closed leg sleeves 204 and 210. In the preferred construction the outer closed ends of the arm sleeves 214 and 216 are of mittenlike configuration 218 and 220 to accommodate the corresponding portions of the suit 12. The sleeves 214 and 216 as well as the gloves 32 and 34 can be of relatively thin'and flexible material such as high temperature resistant nylon fiber, glass fiber or asbestos filled neoprene rubber sheet material whereby the person can manipulate his hands, fingers and thumbs so as to be able to perform tasks. The closed leg sleeves 204 and 210 can be made of similar material though preferably thicker so as to better withstand wear, and perhaps the walking about on jagged metal or broken glass as may be present at a crash scene. It will be especially manifest to those skilled in the art, such as those that participate in air facility fire fighting units, rescue squads, and in the business of extinguishing oil and gas well fires, the character or desired characteristics of the materials used for the suit 12 and for all parts of the cocoon, and it is expected that suitable choice of a wide variety of materials and of materials yet to be developed or invented is well within the ordinary skill of those familiar with the field here involved.

The person can at his option extend his arms and- /or legs from within the double-walled extent of the cocoon 14 and if desired retract or keep his arms and legs within such conflfnes of the cocoon 14 and assume the fetal or most protective or invulnerable position shown in dashed outline at 230 in FIG. 17. Such a fetal position 230 affords great protection for the person 10 during a crash or impact situation or when the cocoon 14 is in a highly hostile or dangerous environment, such as surrounding flame or high temperature smoke, etc. Again, it is stressed that is a desideratum in selecting materials for the cocoon l4 and the sleeves 204, 210, 214 and 216 that they be as fireproof or fire resistant as may be feasibly possible and that they reject radiant heat as much as feasibly possible such as by the exteriors of such parts being silvered or made reflective as by being metalized, or the like. Aluminized exteriors of fire fighting suits or uniforms are exemplary of such an expedient.

The cocoon 14 is also provided with a viewing opening 240 of generally rectangular shape (that is divided by the opening 192), such opening 240 being peripherally sealed from the space 154 by sealing walls such as the sealing walls 242 and 243. The opening 240 is placed in general alignment with the front of the eyes 244 of the person 10 so that he can see outside the cocoon 14. To protect the eyes from smoke, heat and the like, small plates 246 of a transparent thermosetting plastic or preferably of heat treated and tinted glass are secured to the outer wall 152 of the cocoon so as to cover the outer end of the opening 240.

The inner end of the opening 240 is closed by transparent and flexible plastic plates 248 that are selectively secured together by the zipper means 194.

To afford pressure equalization and in order to allow escape of displaced and oxygen depleted air from within the cocoon 14, a small opening 256 is provided that is surrounded by and sealed from the space 154 by a wall 258. The opening 256 can be closed or opened by person 10 by use of a plug 259 carried on a string 260 fixed to the cocoon by a flexible element or string 260.

The harness means 16 comprises a belt 280 which opens at the front and which can be closed or fastened by the person by a buckle means 282.

Attached to the belt are a pair of shoulder straps 284 and 286 clearly shown in FIG. 2. Radiating from and fixed to spaced positions about the belt and from spaced positions along each of the shoulder straps are a plurality of positioning or body centering straps 290, 292, 294, 296, 298, 300, 302 and 304, and the outer ends of such positioning straps are fixed by being secured to a plurality of spaced positions about the inner side of the inner wall 150, such as the connections of straps 302 and 304 at 306 and 308, respectively.

The points of attachment of the positioning straps to the cocoon are such as to cause the latter to radiate more or less straight outwardly from the abdominal region of the person 10, it being noted that the lengths of the positioning straps are such as to be nearly taut when a person 10 is buckled in the harness 16 and the cocoon 14 is inflated. The arrangement is such that the harness means 16 holds the person 10 more or less centered within the cocoon 14 in a manner somewhat like that in which the spokes of a bicycle wheel hold the hub of such wheel centered within the rim of such wheel.

The shoulder straps 284 and 286 are normally secrued to the suit 12 by means of heavy-duty snap fastener means 288 and 290 that respectively coact with conventional snap fastener means (male and female fashion), not shown, below the protective pads on the right and left shoulders of the suit 12.

The cocoon 14 and the suit 12 are normally deflated and open, with the buckle means 282 being open so that a person 10 can don the suit 12, the harness 16 and the cocoon 14 simultaneously and thereafter close the suit 12, close the buckle means 282, close the opening 192 by use of the slide fastener 194, and then inflate the suit 12 and the cocoon 14 by use of the means 86 and 178.

The suit 12, harness 16 and cocoon 14 are normally carried in readiness for the preceding sequence by being folded in uninflated condition and stored in such a collapsed condition as a unit 300 in a suitcase-like emergency container 320 as shown in FIG. 16.

As indicated previously, the cocoon inflating means has the gas bottles thereof mounted on the harness means 16; specifically on the belt 280.

An emergency kit 330 is secured to the pressure bottle 172 and the same contains emergency equipment (not shown) such as a knife, fishhooks, a snake bite treatment unit, antibiotics, etc. In general, the kit 330 can contain various items such as customarily included in military pilots survival kits, such as distress signaling devices; radio, sun reflecting, etc.

Other survival equipment that may be deemed necessary or expedient, not shown, can be mounted on the belt 280.

The pressure bottle 173 has a bracket 346 thereon for removably carrying a flashlight 348 by means of which the person can find his way about within the cocoon, as well as to illuminate about the exterior of the cocoon 14 through the viewing opening 240. The opening 240 is, of course, sufficient size to allow concurrent illumination and viewing therethrough.

Means is provided whereby the person 10 can selectively breathe air ambient to or within the cocoon 14. Such means comprises an elongated flexible hose 350 having a free end 352 that can be inserted into the mouth through the opening 22 of the suit 12. The hose 350 extends from its free end 352 within the cocoon 14 into the arm sleeve 214 and has its other end 354 sealingly opening through and opening 356 in the mitten portion 218 in the palm region 358 of the latter.

A manually operable valve 360 is positioned in the hose 350 adjacent its mitten end 356, whereby the person can open and close the hose 350.

With the valve 360 open and the end 352 of the hose 350 in his mouth, the person 10 can inhale air ambient to the cocoon 14 at a position adjacent where the person 10 places his right hand, it being noted that space of clean or smoke free air may be within reach of the preson 10. It will be observed that the person 10 exhales through his nose.

The person 10 can, if he desires, close the valve 360 and simply breathe air that is within the cocoon 14. The air within the cocoon 14 can if deemed necessary be freshened by the person 10 by simply cutting one of the cocoon filling lines and valving air into the interior of the cocoon. In this regard, it will be recalled that each bottle of the means 270 is more than adequate to inflate the cocoon. Furthermore, severing either one of the cocoon inflating lines or the suit inflating line will not result in deflating the cocoon 14 or the suit 12 as such lines are provided with check valves (not shown) adjacent their junctions with the cocoon 14 and the suit 12 whereby reverse flow can not occur as will be readily understood by those skilled in the art.

Attention is now directed to the appended claims in order to ascertain the actual scope of the invention.

I claim:

1. In survival apparatus, a protective shelter comprising a double-walled, generally spherical hollow shell having an elongated access opening, means operable from the interior of the sheel by an occupant thereof for selectively closing said opening, said double-walled shell including inner and outer flexible walls defining an inflatable and substantially airtight space therebetween, connecting means in said space limiting the separation of the inner and outer walls, limb openings provided in said shell adapted to accommodate extension of the arms and legs of an occupant of the shell from the interior to the exterior of the shell, said limb openings being closed by flexible closure walls shaped to loosely embrace limbs extending through the openings closed thereby, each of said closure walls comprising a hollow enclosure having a closed end and an open end with the open end embracing and being sealed to the shell about its respective limb opening, said shell and said closure walls being so constructed and arranged to jointly envelope and isolate an occupant of the shell from any environment outside the shell, harness means fixed to the shell for releasable attachment to an occupant for stabilizing the position of an occupant relative to the shell upon any acceleration of the latter, and means disposed within and operable from within the interior of the shell by an occupant thereof for introducing a gas into the space under a pressure substantially in excess of ambient pressure whereby the shell is expanded forcefully to its generaly spherical configuration and strongly tends to retain and regain such configuration against any deforming forces, whereby an occupant of the shell can be cushioned in a collision situation as well as be shielded from ambient harmful conditions that might exist immediately subsequent to a collision, whereby an occupant in anticipation of a collision can assume the fetal position entirely within the shell with the closure walls also drawn thereinto, and whereby after the collision, the occupant can extend his arms and legs to escape from and to assist others at the collision scene.

2. The combination of claim 1, including a selfcontained source of oxygen in the shell for an occupant.

3. The combination of claim 1, including survival items carried by the harness means.

4. Teh combination of claim 1, wherein at least the outer wall of the shell is heat and fire resistant.

5. The combination of claim 4, wherein the outer surface of the outer wall is metalized and highly reflective of radiant energy so as to better withstand impinging radiant heat energy.

6. The combination of claim 1, including said shell being provided with transparent window means for enabling an occupant of the shell to view shell surroundings.

7. The combination of claim 1, wherein the connecting means comprises partitioning means connecting the inner and outer walls and partitioning the space between the walls into a plurality of isolated compartments, said partitioning means being provided with check valves to enable the filling of all the compartments upon introducing a gas under pressure into one of said compartments.

8. The combination of claim 1, including a selfcontained source of oxygen in the shell for respiratory use by an occupant, and said shell having an opening of small aperture communicating between the exterior and the interior of the shell, whereby gas within the shell can be displaced and escape from the shell.

9. The combination of claim 1, including a breathing tube in the shell having one end adapted to be received in the mouth of an occupant of the shell, said breathing tube having its other end sealingly opening to the exterior of the shell through one of said flexible closure walls.

10. The combination of claim 9, wherein said one of the closure walls is associated with an arm opening and said tube being provided with a manually operable valve.

11. The combination of claim 1, including a flame resistant garment disposed within the shell and adapted to be worn by the occupant of the shell, said garment including portions adapted to enclose the torso, head, limbs and limb extremities, said garment including means for enabling respiration and visual observation by the wearer thereof, said garment being doublewalled in a substantial portion of its extent to define a gas inflatable space, whereby the garment can cushion the wearer on the occurrence of a collision, and means for introducing a pressurized gas into the space in the garment.

12. The combination of claim 11, including harness means disposed within the shell that are fixed to the shell and secured to the garment for limiting relative movement of the shell and a garment wearing occupant of the shell.

13. The combination of claim 11, wherein the garment is provided with partition means separating the space in the garment into a plurality of chambers and check valves affording unidirectional gas flow between adjoining chambers, whereby all chambers can be filled with pressurized gas from a single chamber.

14. A collision survival suit comprising a garment for enveloping the entire body of a wearer thereof and including portions adapted to enclose the torso, head, limbs and limb extremities, said garment including means for enabling respiration and visual observation gas flow between adjoining chambers, whereby all the chambers can be filled with pressurized gas from a single chamber, whereby the garment can cushion the wearer on the occurrence of a collision, and means for introducing a pressurized gas into the inflatable space in the garment.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification128/201.29, 52/2.23, 472/129, D29/100, 52/2.17
International ClassificationA44B19/34, A41D13/018, B63C9/105, A44B19/16, A44B19/24, A44B19/10, B64D25/00, A44B19/32, B63C9/00, A41D13/015, A62B17/00
Cooperative ClassificationA44B19/32, A44B19/34, A62B17/001, A62B17/00, B63C9/1055, A44B19/16, A41D13/018, B64D25/00
European ClassificationA44B19/32, A62B17/00, A44B19/16, A44B19/34, B64D25/00, B63C9/105A, A41D13/018, A62B17/00B