Thermal Protection in Inflatable Liferafts – Human and Thermal Manikin Testing to Quantify:Training Issues, Assess Occupant Heat Balance and Develop Performance Criteria

Boone, James and Brown, Rob and Mak, Lawrence and Kuczora, Andrew and Ducharme, Michel and Farnworth, Brian and Evely, Kerri-Ann and Basset, Fabien A. and MacKinnon, Scott (2009) Thermal Protection in Inflatable Liferafts – Human and Thermal Manikin Testing to Quantify:Training Issues, Assess Occupant Heat Balance and Develop Performance Criteria. In: 8th International Conference of the International Association for Safety & Survival Training, Oct 19 - 20, 2009, Alexandria, Egypt. (Unpublished)

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Inflatable liferafts are used worldwide as a means of evacuation and survival from almost all ocean‐going vessels, regardless of their size, purpose or region of operation. Vessel size ranges from fishing and other commercial vessels with small crews to offshore oil installations and passenger ships with thousands of persons onboard. While International Maritime Organisation (IMO) standards currently require inflatable liferaft components to “provide insulation” or “be sufficiently insulated”, no performance criteria accompany these requirements. This paper will outline the methodology and results from a three year research project involving a multidisciplinary team which utilised human subjects and a thermally instrumented manikin to investigate the gaps in knowledge for the thermal performance of inflatable liferafts in cold environments. Tests were conducted in a controlled laboratory environment with a 16 person SOLAS‐approved liferaft and air and water temperatures as cold as 5°C. The main variables investigated were clothing wetness (wet and dry) and liferaft floor insulation (insulated and uninsulated). The project’s four main objectives were to: 1) develop thermal protection criteria for inflatable liferafts assuming otherwise unprotected occupants, 2) propose an objective methodology for testing inflatable liferaft thermal protection performance, 3) develop tools for search and rescue planners to predict survival times of liferaft occupants and 4) provide guidance to training authorities and manufacturers. The study found that: 1) the thermal insulation of a combined system of clothing and liferaft using a thermal manikin gave good agreement with measurements using humans, as long as proper corrections for differences between manikin and humans are appropriately applied, 2) system insulation values coupled with a cold exposure survival model can be expected to give search and rescue planners reasonable predictions of survival time in liferafts where hypothermia is the main risk factor and 3) the factors substantially affecting the survival time of liferaft occupants are: whether any type of thermal protective aid (TPA) is worn,clothing wetness, liferaft floor insulation and liferaft ventilation rate.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Item ID: 67
Keywords: Inflatable liferafts; thermal; cold environments; human; manikin; hypothermia.
Department(s): Marine Institute > Offshore Safety and Survival Centre
Date: 19 October 2009
Date Type: Submission

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