Title:
Life preserver
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention relates to a life preserver 10 that a person may wear that includes a body portion which includes an inflatable front panel 11 connected to an inflatable rear panel 12, said front and rear panels adapted to cover a substantial part of the wearer's torso. The life preserver also includes a gas container 45 filled with gas for inflating the front panel 11 and the rear panel 12. Preferably the buoyancy exhibited by the upper part of said body portion is substantially greater than that of the lower part of said body portion when inflated.



Inventors:
Kloessing, Karl (Melbourne, AU)
Application Number:
10/215813
Publication Date:
02/12/2004
Filing Date:
08/08/2002
Assignee:
KLOESSING KARL
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63C9/125; (IPC1-7): B63C9/08
View Patent Images:
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20040235371Fishing marker float with hand reelNovember, 2004Bosse et al.
20060292942Multiple-use dynamic water surfboard deviceDecember, 2006Liao
20040033740Flotation deviceFebruary, 2004Jones
20080266860Light emitting flotation deviceOctober, 2008Marcinkewicz et al.
20090186540RESCUE MATJuly, 2009Pole III et al.
20040120774Inflatable, personal life raft inflated through use of a windsockJune, 2004Courtney et al.



Primary Examiner:
SOTELO, JESUS D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ABELMAN, FRAYNE & SCHWAB (New York, NY, US)
Claims:

The claims of the invention are as follows:



1. A life preserver that a person may wear, said life preserver including: a body portion that is adapted to cover a substantial part of the person's torso, said body portion having an upper part and a lower part and wherein said upper part when inflated exhibits greater buoyancy than said lower part when inflated; a container that is capable of storing a gas under pressure, said container being attached to said body portion and having an outlet in fluid communication with said body portion, and an actuator operably connected to said container which when actuated shall release gas stored in said container for the purpose of inflating said body portion.

2. A life preserver as claimed in claim 1, wherein said body portion includes an inflatable front panel and an inflatable rear panel, said front and rear panels each being adapted to cover a substantial part of the person's torso, said front and rear panels each having an upper part and a lower part and wherein said upper part when inflated exhibits greater buoyancy than said lower part when inflated.

3. A life preserver as claimed in claim 2, wherein the buoyancy of both said front and rear panels when inflated increases incrementally in the direction of the person's head.

4. A life preserver as claimed in claim 3, wherein the buoyant forces acting on the front panel are slightly greater than those acting on the rear panel whereby the user's body is supported in a rearwardly inclined, though substantially vertically orientated, attitude.

5. A life preserver as claimed in claim 4, wherein inflation of said front and/or said rear panel is achieved by inflating a bladder that is loosely retained within said panel and wherein the lower edge portion of said blader is releasably secured to a lower edge portion of said panel.

6. A life preserver as claimed in claim 5, wherein the bladder is constructed from opposing layers of an impermeable material and wherein a piece of transitional material is located between and is welded to the edges of said lower edge portion, and wherein one or more fasteners are secured to or otherwise engage an exposed or free portion of said transitional material.

7. A life preserver as claimed in claim 6, wherein there is provided deflation apparatus for deflating said body portion.

8. A life preserver that a person may wear, said life preserver including: a body portion that is adapted, to cover a substantial part of the person's torso, said body portion having an upper part and a lower part and wherein said upper part when inflated exhibits greater buoyancy than said lower part when inflated; a container that is capable of storing a gas under pressure, said container being attached to said body portion and having an outlet in fluid communication with said body portion, and an actuator operably connected to said container which when actuated shall release gas stored in said container for the purpose of inflating said body portion.

9. A life preserver as claimed in claim 8, wherein the buoyant forces acting on the front panel are slightly greater than those acting on the rear panel whereby the user's body is supported in a rearwardly inclined, though substantially vertically orientated, attitude.

10. A life preserver that includes an inflatable panel and wherein inflation is achieved by inflating a bladder that is loosely retained within said panel and wherein the lower edge portion of said bladder is releasably secured to a lower edge portion of said panel.

11. A life preserver as claimed in claim 10, wherein the bladder is constructed from opposing layers of an impermeable material and wherein a piece of transitional material is located between and is welded to the edges of said lower edge portion, and wherein one or more fasteners are secured to or otherwise engage an exposed or free portion of said transitional material.

Description:
[0001] This invention relates to a life preserver.

[0002] This invention has particular, but not exclusive application to a life preserver to be worn by persons when riding various surf craft, including surf boards, surf skis and boogie boards, and whereby reference will be made to same. However, it will be appreciated that this invention has other applications, such as a suit that may be worn by divers and swimmers.

[0003] The force generated by waves when they break may vary and is dependent upon a number of factors including the size of the swell; the distance over which the swell has travelled; the underwater typography; the tide level, and the direction of the wind. This force may create turbulence beneath the surface of the water.

[0004] Surfers, whether they be riding surf craft or body surfing, may loose their balance when taking off on a wave or surfing a wave face, and as a consequence may be plunged beneath the surface of the water by the breaking wave. In most instances, being dumped by a wave is not life threatening. However, in some instances, the turbulence generated by the broken wave may be strong enough to temporarily hold the surfer beneath the surface of the water. If held down for too long, the surfer may drown.

[0005] The surfer may also be tumbled by the turbulence and as a consequence may become disorientated. Not knowing which direction is up, a confused surfer may waste valuable time swimming away from the surface and as a consequence could also drown.

[0006] Surfers, whether they be riding surf craft or body surfing, may also choose to dive beneath a breaking wave when attempting to cross a surf line. Again, the turbulence created by the breaking wave may hold the surfer below the surface or cause the surfer to be temporarily disorientated resulting in the drowning of the surfer.

[0007] Most life jackets consist of a vest that includes buoyant front and rear portions. These may include pockets filled with a buoyant material, such as some foamed materials, cork or kapok. Life jackets of this type are not suitable for surfers as they do not permit the surfer to dive deep enough below the surface of the water so as to avoid the turbulence generated by breaking waves. They also tend to be rather bulky and as such may prove to be rather cumbersome.

[0008] Some life jackets, including those provided by airlines for use by their passengers should the need arise to abandon an aircraft that is lying on the surface of a body of water, may include a plurality of inflatable buoyant chambers. These may include a buoyant chamber positioned over the front of the wearer's chest and an elongate buoyant chamber that forms a collar which partially surrounds the rear portion of the wearer's neck. The buoyant chambers may be inflated either by the release of a gas that had previously been stored under pressure in a suitable container attached to the life jacket or by the user blowing the chamber up with their own breath.

[0009] Life jackets of the type described above are designed to support a person on the surface of the water in a generally rearwardly inclined position. However, it has been observed that in the case of an unconscious person, the life jacket will not without some outside influence transfer a person who is lying face down in the water to the preferred rearwardly inclined position.

[0010] It is also believed that the life jackets referred to above, if inflated while the wearer is submerged, will slowly propel the wearer's body towards the surface in a generally horizontally inclined attitude. Depending upon the particular orientation of the wearer at the time of inflation, the wearer may be delivered to the surface of the water lying face down. If the wearer is unconscious, or is injured, the wearer may be unable to get their face out of the water and as a consequence the wearer may subsequently drown.

[0011] The present invention is aimed at providing a life preserver which will propel a person who is submerged to the surface in a manner whereby their body is generally vertically orientated thereby ensuring that the wearer's head will break the surface first. Another aim of the invention is to provide a life preserver which will provide support for a person in the water in a manner whereby the person's face is not likely to become immersed.

[0012] With the foregoing in view, this invention in one aspect relates broadly to a life preserver that a person may wear, said life preserver including:

[0013] a body portion that is adapted to cover a substantial part of the person's torso, said body portion having an upper part and a lower part and wherein said upper part when inflated exhibits greater buoyancy than said lower part when inflated;

[0014] a container that is capable of storing a gas under pressure, said container being attached to said body portion and having an outlet in fluid communication with said body portion, and

[0015] an actuator operably connected to said container which when actuated shall release gas stored in said container for the purpose of inflating said body portion.

[0016] Preferably the body portion includes an inflatable front panel that is connected to an inflatable rear panel and wherein both panels are adapted to cover a substantial part of the person's torso.

[0017] The front and rear panels may each include an upper part and a lower part. Preferably the buoyancy exhibited by the upper part of each of the front and rear panels is greater than that of the respective lower parts of the panels. It is also preferred that the buoyancy of both the front and rear panels increases incrementally in a generally upward direction.

[0018] Preferably, in use, the buoyant forces acting on the front panel are slightly greater than those acting on the rear panel whereby the user's body is supported in a rearwardly inclined, though substantially vertically orientated, attitude.

[0019] In one embodiment, the life preserver may be an article of clothing which a user may wear and as such may possess any suitable shape. For example, the life preserver may be in the form of a vest. The vest may be sleeveless, such as a singlet, or may include long or short length sleeves.

[0020] Alternatively, the life preserver may include upper and lower portions intended to cover the upper and lower parts of the user's torso. Furthermore, the life preserver may include sleeve like portions intended to cover varying amounts of the user's limbs. For example, the life preserver may include pants that are integrally formed with a chest portion, as well as sleeves and/or leg portions.

[0021] Bearing the above in mind, as well as being a life preserver, the article of clothing, by way of example, may also be used as a wet suit, diving suit, swim suit, including strapless bathing tops, or a rash shirt.

[0022] To prevent the article of clothing ridding up the user's body in the general direction of the user's head, there may be provided suitable restraining means. For example, if the article of clothing is a vest, there may be provided a belt which extends about the user's waist when the article is worn and which may be selectively tightened. Another strap that is connected to the front and rear panels may pass between the user's legs.

[0023] Similarly, in the case of a wet suit or a swimming costume, the seat or crutch of the article when worn may provide suitable restraint.

[0024] The articles of clothing preferably include front rear panels. These may form an integral part of the article of clothing and preferably cover at least a substantial portion of the front and rear of the user's trunk respectively. The panels may be any suitable shape. For example, the panels may be generally rectangular in shape. Alternatively, the panels may include a bifurcated section and wherein the two branches may be selectively connected using a variety of means, such as zip fasteners, press studs, ties or buckles.

[0025] Each panel may include one or more impermeable chambers or compartments that in use may be inflated by activating the inflation means. These may simply include opposing layers of material that are joined together so as to form a chamber or pocket. The chamber may be divided into numerous smaller compartments by one or more baffles.

[0026] The impermeable chambers may be constructed from any suitable material. For example at least one of the layers of material may be a flexible, non-stretchable, material that prior to inflation may be stowed in a gathered state on the article of clothing and/or retained in a suitably shaped pocket.

[0027] Alternatively, the impermeable chambers may be constructed from a flexible, generally elastic, material. More particularly, the layer of material closest to the wearer's skin, namely the inner layer, may be constructed from a non-stretchable material or a material that is not as elastic as the material from which the opposite or outer layer is constructed.

[0028] In other embodiments, there may be provided a front and a rear inflatable panel, or bladder, that is itself separate from the article of clothing but which is secured either permanently or releasably thereto. For protection, the bladders may be concealed behind a suitably shaped flap or retained within a suitably shaped pocket.

[0029] The two inflatable bladders may be totally separate, or may communicate with one another via one or more connecting passageways.

[0030] For example, the inflatable bladders may be connected by two passageways that are located on either side of a neck opening through which the user's neck extends and whereby the two passageways each extend over the user's shoulders. Alternatively, the connecting passageways may pass under the user's armpits.

[0031] Each of the inflatable bladders may be constructed from any suitable flexible material.

[0032] To prevent the bladders from ridding up the user's body in the general direction of the user's head, there may be provided suitable anchoring means associated with the lower part of each bladder. For example, the lower peripheral edge portion of each bladder may be secured to the article of clothing.

[0033] In other embodiments the body may consist of front and rear inflatable panels or bladders that are connected together in a manner by which they may be located on a user's body such that the cover a substantial portion of the users trunk. For example, there may be provided an opening located between the upper pa ts of the two bladders through which the user's neck may extend. There may also be provided straps and/or flexible wall panels that connect the opposing side edges of the bladders, said straps or wall panels being locatable beneath the user's armpits.

[0034] The container preferably includes a valve assembly that is capable of selectively closing an opening formed in said container through which the gas may escape.

[0035] The valve assembly may be manually activated by the user by the actuator that is preferably readily accessable to the user. For example, the actuator may include a flexible line member, one end of which is operatively connected to the valve assembly and whereby the free end may be provided with a handle that the user may grasp. However, in other embodiments the actuator may include a push button that is operatively connected to the valve assembly and which when depressed will open said valve assembly thereby releasing the gas.

[0036] In one embodiment there may be provided just the one actuator that is adapted to supply gas under pressure to the front and the rear panels. Alternatively, separate actuators and possibly separate gas supplies may be provided for both the front and the rear panels respectively.

[0037] In other embodiments, the actuator may be designed to automatically open the valve assembly if sensors operatively connected to said actuator sense that the user has remained at a particular depth beneath the surface of the water for a predetermined length of time.

[0038] The actuator may be either permanently or releasably connected to an opening formed in the front and/or the rear panel and whereby there may be provided a manifold connecting said actuator to said front and/or rear panel.

[0039] The actuator may be located on an external part of the article of clothing. For protection, the actuator may be concealed by a flap of material or housed within a suitable shaped pocket.

[0040] The life preserver may also be provided with deflation apparatus for deflating the inflated front and rear panels. The deflation apparatus may include at least one valve assembly that is operatively connected to the front and/or rear panel.

[0041] The deflation valve assembly may be manually actuated by the user. Preferably the actuator is readily accessable to the user. For example, the actuator may include a flexible line member, one end of which is operatively connected to the deflation valve assembly and whereby the free end may be provided with a handle that the user may grasp. However, in other embodiments the actuator may include a push button that is operatively connected to the deflation, valve assembly and which when depressed will open said, deflation valve assembly thereby releasing the gas. Preferably the deflation valve assembly is located in an upper part of the inflated panel thereby enabling deflation to be assisted by the pressure of the water bearing against said inflated panel.

[0042] In another aspect, this invention relates to a life preserver that includes an inflatable panel and wherein inflation is achieved by inflating a bladder that is loosely retained within the panel and wherein the lower edge portion of the bladder is releasably secured to a lower edge portion of the panel. Preferably the bladder is constructed from opposing layers of an impermeable material and wherein a piece of transitional material is located between and is welded to the edges of the lower edge portion of the bladder, and wherein one or more fasteners are secured to or otherwise engage an exposed or free portion of said transitional material.

[0043] In order that this invention may be more easily understood and put into practical effect, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings which illustrate preferred embodiments of the invention and wherein:

[0044] FIG. 1 is a plan view of a life preserver shown in blank form that is constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0045] FIG. 2 is a front view of a person wearing the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0046] FIG. 3 is a front view that shows schematically the inflation of the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0047] FIG. 4 is a rear view of a person wearing the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0048] FIG. 5 is a rear view that shows schematically the inflation of the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0049] FIG. 6 is a side view that shows schematically the inflation of the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0050] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the top portion of the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0051] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the middle portion of the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0052] FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the lower portion of the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0053] FIG. 10 is a plan view of another life preserver shown in blank form that is constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0054] FIG. 11 is a front view of a person wearing the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 10;

[0055] FIG. 12 is a front view that shows schematically the inflation of the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 10;

[0056] FIG. 13 is a rear view of a person wearing the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 10;

[0057] FIG. 14 is a rear view that shows schematically the inflation of the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 10;

[0058] FIG. 15 is a plan view of another life preserver shown in blank form that is constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0059] FIG. 16 is a plan view of another life preserver shown in blank form that is constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0060] FIG. 17 is a plan view of another life preserver shown in blank form that is constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0061] FIG. 18 is a plan view that shows schematically the inflation of the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 17;

[0062] FIG. 19 is a plan view of another life preserver shown in blank form that is constructed in accordance with the present invention, and

[0063] FIG. 20 is a plan view that shows schematically the inflation of the life preserver illustrated in FIG. 19.

[0064] FIGS. 1 to 9 illustrate a life preserver 10, in the form of a sleeveless vest, that includes an inflatable front panel 11 and an inflatable rear panel 12. The rear panel 12 includes a bifurcated section 13 consisting of two branches 14 and 15 that are selectively interconnected along a common edge 16 and 17 respectively by a zip fastener 18.

[0065] The life preserver 10 also includes a neck aperture 19, that is located intermediate the front panel 11 and the rear panel 12, through which the user's neck may extend.

[0066] The life preserver 10 also includes two opposing arm apertures 20 and 21 through which a respective arm of the user may extend. The arm apertures are formed by the connection of side edge 22 to side edge 23 and by side edge 24 to side edge 25.

[0067] The front panel 11 and the rear panel 12 each include an inner layer 26 constructed from an elastic material, such as neoprene, and an outer layer, not shown, constructed from an elastic material, such as a mesh lice 4-way elasticised nylon. The inner layer 26 is connected to the outer layer by seams 27, 28 and 29 surrounding the neck aperture 19 and the arm apertures 20 and 21 respectively. The inner layer 26 is also connected to the outer layer along side edges 22, 23, 24 and 25.

[0068] Sandwiched between the inner 19 and the outer layer is a front bladder 30 and a rear bladder 31. The bladders 30 and 31 are manufactured from two opposing layers of an impermeable flexible material, such as polyurethane, that are heat welded together along their side edges so as to form a respective chamber. The two bladders communicate with one another via passageways 32 and 33 that pass on either side of the neck aperture 19.

[0069] The front bladder 30 includes three vertically orientated baffles 34, 35 and 36. The rear bladder includes baffles 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44.

[0070] The bladders may each be inflated by a gas, such as CO2, drawn from a gas cylinder 45 that is mounted on the exterior of the life preserver 10, adjacent the neck aperture 19. The gas cylinder is fluidly connected to the passageway 33 by an inlet manifold 46.

[0071] The release of the gas contained within the cylinder 45 is achieved by pulling on the cord 47 that is operatively connected to a valve assembly, not shown, of the cylinder 45. The free end of the cord 47 includes a handle 48. To prevent the cord 47 from getting caught on foreign objects or the like, the cord 47 may be threaded through loops mounted on the exterior of the life preserver 10.

[0072] The life preserver 10 also includes one way valve assembly 49 that is fluidly connected to passageway 32 which when open may be used to allow gas to escape from the bladders 30 and 31, thereby permitting the deflation of same. To open the valve assembly 49, the user may pull on the cord 50, one end of which is attached to the valve assembly 49. The free end of the cord 50 includes a handle 51. To prevent the cord 50 from getting caught on foreign objects or the like, the cord 50 may be threaded through a loop 52 mounted on the exterior of the life preserver 10.

[0073] To prevent the bladders 30 and 31, which are loosely retained between the inner layer 26 and the outer layer, from ridding up towards the user's head, the lower edge portion 53 and 54 of each bladder is releasably attached to the inner layer 26 at or near the lower edge portion of the life preserver 10. This may be achieved by locating a portion of a strip of material, such as denier between opposing free edge portions of the bladder which is then secured thereto using a suitable heat welding process. Strips of hook like fasteners in turn are secured to both sides of the portion of the denier that extends outwardly from the edge of the bladder using a suitable adhesive. These may be releasably attached to strips of loop like fasteners that are attached to the inner layer 26.

[0074] To prevent the life preserver from ridding up towards the user's head, there is provided a waist belt assembly 55 that may be realeasably secured about the user's waist.

[0075] In use, a surfer who is being held beneath the surface of the water by turbulence may choose to inflate the front and rear bladders 30 and 31. This may be achieved by pulling on the handle 48 or the cord 47 which will permit the release of gas stored in the cylinder 45.

[0076] The baffles aid in the distribution of gases within the bladders 30 and 31 and influence the shape of the bladders when inflated. With particular reference to FIG. 6, the volume occupied by the gas contained in both the inflated front bladder 30 and the rear bladder 31, increases generally in the direction of the-neck aperture.

[0077] It is believed that the buoyancy distribution illustrated will urge a user's head upward toward the water surface, in a shorter time and with greater power than would occur if the buoyancy distribution was uniform from the waistline to upper bladder line. Also, having buoyancy capacity present starting at the vest waist level through to the upper torso level, ensures that the users body is adequately supported in the water, and so maintaining the user's airway at an adequate level above the water line in a wavy and turbulent marine environment is an advantage.

[0078] It is believed that an inflated vest with uniform buoyancy capacity distributed evenly along the torso is less stable in the lateral direction and is more likely to rock back and forth. This problem it is believed is overcome by the incrementally greater buoyancy capacity of the life preserver 10, as shown.

[0079] Should the user need to dive below the surface of the water, as may be the case if the user wished to avoid a breaking wave, the bladders 30 and 31 may be deflated by opening the valve assembly 49. This is achieved by pulling on either the handle 51 or the cord 50.

[0080] Preferably the outer layer is more elastic than the inner layer 26. This it is believed will encourage the expansion of the bladder in a direction generally away from the wearer and whereby expansion of the bladder is less likely to apply a constrictive force to the wearer's chest, making breathing more difficult. It is also believed that the more elastic outer layer will also assist with the quick expulsion of gas from the bladders 30 and 31.

[0081] FIGS. 10 to 14 show another life preserver 100 in the form of a sleeveless vest, that includes an inflatable front panel 111 and an inflatable rear panel 112. The rear panel 112 includes a bifurcated section 113 consisting of two branches 114 and 115 that are selectively interconnected along a common edge 116 and 117 respectively by a zip fastener 118.

[0082] The life preserver 100 also includes a neck aperture 119, that is located intermediate the front panel 111 and the rear panel 112, through which the user's neck may extend.

[0083] The life preserver 100 also includes two opposing arm apertures 120 and 121 through which a respective arm of the user may extend. The arm apertures are formed by the connection of side edge 122 to side edge 123 and by side edge 124 to side edge 125.

[0084] The front panel 111 and the rear panel 112 each include an inner layer 126 constructed from an elastic material, such as neoprene, and an outer layer, not shown, constructed from an elastic material, such as a nylon mesh like. The inner layer 126 is connected to the outer layer by seams 127, 128 and 129 surrounding the neck aperture 119 and the arm apertures 120 and 121 respectively. The inner layer 126 is also connected to the outer layer along side edges 122, 123, 124 and 125.

[0085] Sandwiched between the inner 119 and the outer layer is a front bladder 130 and a rear bladder 131. The bladders 130 and 131 are manufactured from two opposing layers of an impermeable flexible material, such as polyurethane, that are heat welded together along their side edges so as to form a respective chamber. The two bladders communicate with one another via passageways 132 and 133 that pass on either side of the neck aperture 119.

[0086] The front bladder 130 includes three vertically orientated baffles 134, 135 and 136. The rear bladder includes baffles 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145 and 146.

[0087] The bladders may each be inflated by a gas, such as CO2, drawn from a gas cylinder 147 that is mounted on the exterior of the life preserver 100, adjacent the neck aperture 119. The gas cylinder is fluidly connected to the passageway 133 by an inlet manifold.

[0088] The release of the gas contained within the cylinder 145 is achieved by pulling on the cord 147a that is operatively connected to a valve assembly, not shown, of the cylinder 45. The free end of the cord 147a includes a handle 148.

[0089] The life preserver 100 also includes one way valve assembly 149 that is fluidly connected to passageway 132 which when open may be used to allow gas to escape from the bladders 130 and 131, thereby permitting the deflation of same. To open the valve assembly 43, the user may pull on the cord 150, one end of which is attached to the valve assembly 49. The free end of the cord 50 includes a handle 151. To prevent the cord 150 from getting caught on foreign objects or the like, the cord 150 may be threaded through a loop 152 mounted on the exterior of the life preserver 100.

[0090] To prevent the bladders 130 and 131, which are loosely retained between the inner layer 126 and the outer layer, from ridding up towards the user's head, the lower edge portion 153 and 154 of each bladder is releasably attached to the inner layer 126 at or near the lower edge portion of the life preserver 100. To prevent the life preserver from ridding up towards the user's head, there is provided a waist belt assembly 155 that may be realeasably secured about the user's waist.

[0091] FIG. 15 shows a life preserver 200 that is similar to the life preserver 100 with the exception that the bladders 230 and 230 have only one baffle 235 and no baffles respectively.

[0092] FIGS. 16 to 18 illustrate two life preservers 300 and 301 which differ from one another by the location of the inflation means 303. Both life preservers 300 and 301 are in the form of a sleeveless vest and include an inflatable front panel 311 and an inflatable rear panel 312.

[0093] The life preservers 300 and 301 each also includes a neck aperture 319, that is located intermediate the front panel 311 and the rear panel 312, through which the user's neck may extend. The life preservers 300 and 301 each also include two opposing arm apertures 320 and 321 through which a respective arm of the user may extend. The arm apertures are formed by the connection of side edge 322 to side edge 323 and by side edge 324 to side edge 325.

[0094] The front panel 311 and the rear panel 312 each include an inner layer 326 constructed from an elastic material, such as neoprene, and an outer layer, not shown, constructed from an elastic material, such as a nylon mesh like material. The inner layer 326 is connected to the outer layer by seams 327, 328 and 329 surrounding the neck aperture 319 and the arm apertures 320 and 321 respectively. The inner layer 326 is also connected to the outer layer along side edges 322, 323, 324 and 325.

[0095] Sandwiched between the inner 326 and the outer layer is a front bladder 330 and a rear bladder 331. The bladders 330 and 331 are manufactured from two opposing layers of an impermeable flexible material, such as polyurethane, that are heat welded together along their side edges so as to form a respective chamber. The two bladders communicate with one another via passageways 332 and 333 that pass on either side of the neck aperture 319.

[0096] The front bladder 330 includes one vertically orientated baffles 334. The rear bladder includes two vertically orientated baffles 337 and 338.

[0097] The bladders may each be inflated by a gas, such as CO2, drawn from a gas cylinder 347 that is mounted on the exterior of the life preserver 300 or 301, adjacent the neck aperture 319. The gas cylinder is fluidly connected to the passageway 333 by an inlet manifold.

[0098] The release of the gas contained within the cylinder 345 is achieved by pulling on the cord 347 that is operatively connected to a valve assembly, not shown, of the cylinder 345. The free end of the cord 347 includes a handle 348. The gas cylinder is selectively concealed behind a flap of material 346.

[0099] The life preservers 300 and 301 each also include a one way valve assembly 349 that is fluidly connected to passageway 332 which when open may be used to allow gas to escape from the bladders 330 and 331, thereby permitting the deflation of same. To open the valve assembly 349, the user may pull on the cord 350, one end of which is attached to the valve assembly 349. The free end of the cord 350 includes a handle 351. To prevent the cord 350 from getting caught on foreign objects or the like, the cord 350 may be threaded through a loop 352 mounted on the exterior of the life preserver 300 or 301.

[0100] To prevent the bladders 330 and 331, which are loosely retained between the inner layer 326 and the outer layer, from ridding up towards the user's head, the lower edge portion 153 and 154 of each bladder is releasably attached to the inner layer 126 at or near the lower edge portion of the life preserver 300 or 301. To prevent the life preserver from ridding up towards the user's head, there is provided a waist belt assembly 355 that may be realeasably secured about the user's waist.

[0101] FIGS. 19 and 20 illustrate yet another life preserver 400 in the form of a sleeveless vest, that includes an inflatable front panel 411 and an inflatable rear panel 112. The rear panel 412 includes two halves 413 that are selectively interconnected along a common edge 416 and 417 respectively by a zip fastener 418.

[0102] The life preserver 400 also includes a neck aperture 419, that is located intermediate the front panel 411 and the rear panel 412, through which the user's neck may extend.

[0103] The life preserver 400 also includes two opposing arm apertures 420 and 421 through which a respective arm of the user may extend. The neck aperture 419 and the arm apertures are formed by the connection of side edges 422 to side edge 425 and by side edge 423 to side edge 424.

[0104] The front panel 411 and the rear panel 412 each include an inner layer 426 constructed from an elastic material, such as neoprene, and an outer layer, not shown, constructed from an elastic material, such as a nylon mesh. The inner layer 426 is connected to the outer layer by seams 427, 428 and 429, which extends between seems 427 and 428.

[0105] Sandwiched between the inner 426 and the outer layer is a removably bladder 430. The bladder 430 is manufactured from two opposing layers of an impermeable flexible material, such as polyurethane, that are heat welded together along their side edges so as to form an enclosed chamber.

[0106] The bladder may be inflated by a gas, such as CO2, drawn from a gas cylinder 445 that is mounted on the exterior of the life preserver 400, adjacent the neck aperture 419, and which is fluidly connected to said bladder.

[0107] The release of the gas contained within the cylinder 445 is achieved by pulling on the cord 447 that is operatively connected to a valve assembly, not shown, of the cylinder 445. The free end of the cord 447 includes a handle 448.

[0108] The life preserver 400 also includes one way valve assembly 449 that is fluidly connected to the bladder 430 which when open may be used to allow gas to escape from the bladder 430, thereby permitting the deflation of same. To open the valve assembly 449, the user may pull on the cord 450, one end of which is attached to the valve assembly 449. The free end of the cord 450 includes a handle 451. To prevent the cord 450 from getting caught on foreign objects or the like, the cord 450 may be threaded through a loop 452 mounted on the exterior of the life preserver 400.

[0109] To prevent the bladder 430, which is loosely retained between the inner layer 426 and the outer layer, from ridding up towards the user's head, the lower edge portion 453 of the bladder is releasably attached to the inner layer 426 at or near the lower edge portion of the life preserver 400, preferably in the manner described above

[0110] To prevent the life preserver from ridding up towards the user's head, there is provided a waist belt assembly 455 that may be realeasably secured about the user's waist.

[0111] Each of the life preservers 100, 200, 300, 301 and 400 function in a manner that is similar to life preserver 10.

[0112] It will be appreciated that the buoyancy exhibited by the upper part of the life preserver, being substantially greater than that of the lower part of said body will propel a person head first towards the surface and will resist any tendency for the user's face from being immersed in the water.

[0113] It will of course be realized that while the foregoing description has been given by way of example of this invention, all other modifications and variations thereto as would be apparent to persons skilled in the art are deemed to fall within the broad scope and ambit of this invention as is hereinbefore defined in the appended claims.





 
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