“How can design be used to gradually raise the body temperature of the user following submersion in cold water?”
There are currently no specific products designed for the emergency recovery and survival of the casualties who have fallen into cold water. The RNLI currently uses thermal blankets to deal with this issue. The blankets provide some warmth but do not stop the effect that the surroundings can have on the casualty.
Once the casualty has been removed from the water, they experience “The Afterdrop”. This occurs when the body’s core temperature continues to drop by 4.5 °C – 5 °C (degrees Celsius). The afterdrop can result in the casualty becoming hypothermic and risk losing their life.
The project focuses on designing a new piece of equipment for the emergency coastal services, which will help to kickstart the rewarming process of casualties following immersion in cold water, to help prevent the afterdrop from putting the casualty into a state of hypothermia.
The product is a Heated Thermal Pod. The thermal pod is manufactured from 3 layers of fabric; with carbon fiber heating elements in the inner layer. The external layers recycled polyester ripstop with a PU coating to provide wind and waterproofing. The pod is insulated with thinsulate; an insulation which does not absorb significant moisture. On top of the insulation is the carbon fiber heating elements which with the use of the portable battery pack provide 3 levels of heat to the pod. The Internal layer is micro fleece which helps to provide comfort. The Buckle features on the end and internally allows the pod to be worn and the length altered as well as the option for the product to be used on more critical casualties who will require a stretcher.