Patent application title: METHOD AND DEVICE FOR COOLING THE BODY IN EXTREME HEAT ENVIRONMENTS
Gwendolyn Murphy (Texarkana, TX, US)
IPC8 Class: AF25D3100FI
Class name: Refrigeration structural installation with body applicator
Publication date: 2011-07-07
Patent application number: 20110162401
An apparatus and system fit on or around an individual's person. The
apparatus contains a series of pockets containing a cooling agent. The
cooling agent is activated through water of some other agent along with
the individual's own body heat. As the cooling agent is activated,
cooling treatment is released from the cooling agent and is absorbed by
the body and thereby cools the body.
1. An apparatus for cooling an individual in extreme heat environments
comprising: a porous material in which liquid can easily pass through; at
least two pockets formed of said porous material, said pockets designed
to have an opening through which a cooling agent can be inserted into
said pocket, said at least two pockets having opposite ends; a sealing
element to close and the opening in the pocket and thereby securing the
cooling agent in the pocket; and a fastening element attached to each end
of said at least two pockets, said fastening elements capable of engaging
each other to secure the at least two pockets to an individual.
2. The apparatus as described in claim 1 wherein said at least two pockets further comprises a plurality of pockets attached in series.
3. The apparatus as described in claim 2 wherein said plurality of pockets are detachable and each detachable pocket having opposite ends.
4. The apparatus as described in claim 1 further comprising a cooling agent inserted into said pocket, said cooling agent capable of releasing cooling treatment to an individual wearing said apparatus.
5. The apparatus as described in claim 4 wherein said cooling agent further comprises ice.
6. The apparatus as described in claim 4 wherein said cooling agent further comprises a cooling pack.
7. The apparatus as described in claim 6 wherein said cooling pack comprises packaging that contains cooling agent contents and prevents the cooling agent contents from penetrating the porous material of said pockets.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
 This application is related to and claims priority from provisional patent application No. 61/257,115 filed on Nov. 2, 2009, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Excessive heat exposure causes thousands of deaths and serious illnesses each year. In the United States, the deaths related to heat exposure exceed the total number of deaths for other natural disasters combined. Heat exposure can affect anybody regardless of age. Although the very young and the elderly may be more vulnerable, young healthy people can also suffer from heat related conditions. The effects of excessive heat exposure can accumulate over a period of days and can be rapid and occur over a period of hours. When over exposure to heat occurs, the body temperature has risen beyond the normal desired healthy body temperature. The body's response to too much heat is to rid the body of the excess heat in order to cool down the body temperature. When the body cannot effectively cool itself, in an extremely hot environment, the body temperature can quickly rise and cause damage to the brain and other vital organs such as kidneys. The result can be convulsions and even death.
 Heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat strokes are some of the serious conditions that can result from exposure to high environmental temperatures for brief or extended periods of time. In these conditions, the body cannot compensate for the excess heat and cannot effectively cool itself through sweating.
 Heat exhaustion is also more common when humidity levels are high. In humid conditions, it is more difficult for the body to cool off by sweating. People who are most susceptible to heart-related illnesses as a result of heat exhaustion are the very young, the very old, those who suffer from a chronic disease including obesity and alcoholism and those who take prescription drugs. Heat related illness can be prevented by drinking a sufficient amount of fluid and allowing the body's natural sweating mechanism to keep the skin cool. Wearing lightweight, loose fitting clothing during exposure to high environmental temperatures can also assist in keeping the body cool.
 Other attempts have been made using clothing garments to effectively address the problem of cooling the body. U.S. Pat. No. 7,043,766 to Foreman et al describes a garment for cooling and insulating that has indentations forming air channels next to the body of the wearer. This garment includes: a first yarn preferably being a single monofilament of polyester; a second yarn preferably formed from staple or filament yarn, whether manmade or of natural fiber, such as polyester, cotton, rayon, nylon, acrylic; and a third yarn being an elastomeric yarn that provides proper stretch and recovery to enable a proper fit of the garment next to the body of the wearer. The first yarn preferably is a single monofilament of polyester. The second yarn preferably provides softness for comfort. The third yarn preferably is spandex. For certain applications of the garment, the second yarn is formed from staples of synthetic materials such as Kevlar, Nomex, or Spectra in order to provide fire retardence, cut resistance, and/or impact/ballistic protection. The indentations may be formed only in selected areas of the garment in accordance therewith.
 U.S. Pat. No. 6,473,901 to Creagan et al describes a durable, single or multi-use cooling garment is provided having a multilayer structure. This cooling garment includes an inner layer of a thermoplastic polymer material that is liquid impermeable and vapor permeable, an outer liquid permeable reinforcing layer such as a web of thermoplastic polymer fibers, and a central absorbent layer that contains a stabilized matrix of about 55 percent to 95 percent cellulosic fibers and from about 5 percent to 45 percent thermoplastic polymer fibers. The layers are bonded together and the absorbent layer is bonded to at least one of the other layers by regionally applying sufficient energy to the layers wherein the thermoplastic polymers melt and re-solidify to form inter-fiber bonds. The cooling garment can be saturated with water or other liquids and provide the wearer with relief from the heat such as may be achieved by evaporative cooling.
 U.S. Pat. No. 6,134,714 to Uglene describes an enhanced personal cooling garment has an inner layer and outer layer that define a confined space or bladder there between for containing liquid water. The inner and outer layers are thin materials that are impermeable to both air and liquid water yet permeable to water vapor. The garment is worn in a manner such that the innermost layer is in direct contact with the wearer's skin. The liquid water between the layers diffuses as vapor through the outer layer; it removes latent heat required for evaporation hence provides cooling to the human body. As both layers of the garment are permeable to water vapor, sweat produced by the wearer can diffuse through the innermost layer, where it will then condense into liquid. When worn beneath an air-cooling garment that distributes cool; dry air over the body, the rate of evaporation increases, resulting in even greater enhancement of cooling of the wearer.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,484,448 to Steele et al describes a cooling garment including opposed front and back panels to substantially cover a user's torso, a plurality of substantially rectangular elongated pockets affixed to the panels, each of the pockets having a releasably secured opening, and one or more insulating sleeves retaining cooling packs of a size corresponding to the pockets, wherein the cooling pack or packs being confined within the respective elongated pocket or pockets adjacent to a portion of the torso of the user subject to less heat stress are retained in insulating sleeves having a higher insulation value than insulating sleeves retaining cooling packs confined within the pocket or pockets adjacent to a portion of the torso of the user subject to more heat stress, and a method for use of the garment for medical treatment of elevated body temperatures.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,433,083 to Kuramarohit et al describes a cooling apparatus for personal or general use is disclosed having interior and exterior surfaces and a fluid for dispersion by the exterior surface. The interior surface prevents the fluid from penetrating the interior surface and contacting the person or object to be cooled. The cooling apparatus may also include a fluid collector to collect excess cooling fluid, a device for moving the fluid from the fluid container to the fluid collector, and a return line for recycling at least a portion of the collected fluid. The exterior surface may be wetted by gravity seepage, capillary action, or the like. A band extending around each collector can aid in preventing the fluid from dripping from the apparatus.
 Even though there are efforts to address the task of effectively cooling the body during extreme heat environments, many of these products have not worked to adequately cool the human body. Therefore, there remains a need for a garment device for cooling the human body during extreme conditions that can provide cooling to the vital areas of the human body.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 This invention describes an apparatus and system to cool a person's body in extreme heat environments. The invention comprises a porous material configured to form a series of adjacent pocket sections. These sections are designed to contain a cooling agent such as ice cubes. Fasteners can be attached to the ends of the series of adjacent pocket sections to secure the invention to the person's body. Body heat, a cooling stimulus such as water can activate the release of coolness from the cooling agent contained in the pocket sections of the invention. The coolness from the cooling agent travels to and makes contact with the person thereby providing immediate relief to the person from the extreme heat.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is an open and back view of the present invention with open pockets.
 FIG. 2 is an open and back view of the present invention with closed pockets.
 FIG. 3 is a side view of the present invention with a closed pocket section containing ice as the cooling agent.
 FIG. 4 is an open and front view of the present invention with closed pockets.
 FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of the method of the present invention.
 FIG. 6 is a side view of the present invention with a closed pocket section containing a cooling packet as the cooling agent.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention provides a method and device garment for cooling a person in extreme heat environments. When placed in contact with a person's body, the device of the present invention provides cooling relief and assists the user's body in dissipating heat and maintaining a healthy body temperature. Referring to FIG. 1, the invention comprises a cooling garment of a porous material, preferable 100 percent cotton in content, having multiple pockets 102 attached through various means 106. Cotton fabric is chosen for its natural comfort, ability to breathe and durability. As the body perspires, cotton fibers absorb the moisture and release it on the surface of the fabric so it evaporates aiding in the cooling process. Attached to each pocket 102 is a flap 104. Each flap 104 attaches to the corresponding pocket 102 through fastening or adhesive means 108. The pockets are separated by stitching 106 or through another attaching means on each pocket that will engage each other and thereby connect the pockets to each other. One such attaching means 106 for the pockets can be Velcro®. The cooling garment can also have decorative streamers 112 attached to and extending from each end pocket. These streamers can have images, symbols, designs and colors based on the desires of the user. The end pockets 102a and 102b are attached to each other to enclose the invention around a user's neck. Fasteners 111a and 111b can engage each other to facilitate the securing of the invention around the user's neck. FIG. 2 shows the cooling garment device of the present invention in a closed position. In this position, the flaps 104 are down and secured by the attachment means 108 creating a closed position for the pockets. The closed position also secures a cooling agent contained in each pocket.
 FIG. 3 shows a side view of a pocket 102 in the present invention. As shown, the pocket flap 104 is down creating a pocket in the closed position. The pocket has a back side 102 which is the same side of the folded pocket flap. In one embodiment, the present invention can have a double front side 114. As mentioned, the material of this cooling garment device is porous, either of 100 percent cotton or a cotton blend. The material can be a durable cloth that will allow liquids such as water to pass through it. The double front side can serve a barrier to transfer heat and facilitate the cooling of the person's neck area. As previously mentioned, the pocket contains cooling agents that lowers the temperature of the cooling garment. In a preferred embodiment, the cooling agent can be ice cubes 116. The ice cubes fill each pocket and provide the cooling resource for cooling the user.
 FIG. 4 shows the front side of the cooling garment device. When the cooling device of the present invention is applied to the user's body, the preference is for the front side to make contact with the user. When positioned on the user, the multiple pocket device wraps around the user's neck. In this position the two end pockets can come together. The streamers will continue to extend from the end pockets. Although not shown, when the device is positioned around the user's neck, fasteners attached to the end pockets can attach to secure the garment around the user's neck.
 FIG. 5 shows the steps in the method of the present invention. In step 400 of this method, the user loads the cooling agent into the pockets of the device. As mentioned, the preferred cooling agent is ice. Once the user has inserted ice into the pocket, in step 402, the pocket flaps 104 are folded over and secured to the back sides of the pockets and thereby securing the cooling agent in the pockets. Step 404 activates the cooling by pouring water over the front side of the cooling garment. As the water contacts the porous material of the device, the water penetrates the garment materials and then the cooling agent. Step 406 allows the penetrating action to occur. As the water contacts the ice, the ice begins to melt in step 408 the coldness of the ice is released into the pocket. In step 410, the user places the watered cooling garment around his or her neck. The user can secure the garment with clips or snaps. As the ice melts through the sides, coolness is released and is absorbed into the skin of the user. The absorption of this cooling process provides relief to the user in step 412.
 FIG. 6 shows an alternate embodiment 450 of the present invention similar to
 FIG. 3, but having a cooling pack 454 as the cooling agent. This embodiment can also have a double front side 452. As the activating agent (i.e. water) penetrates the porous materials of the pocket sections, the water will contact the cooling pack and facilitate the process of releasing the cooling treatment. As the cooling agent melts, cooling treatment is released. As the contents of the cooling agent melts, it will be contained within the packaging of the cooling agent and will not run down from the invention onto the individual.
 The design of the present invention provides features not present in other cooling products. In the present invention, the cooling agent is activated by pouring water over the entire front side of the device. This approach uses an external agent to activate the cooling process. Conventional cooling device use the body heat of the user to activate the melting or cooling process of the cooling agent. Further, the wet porous material serves as a channel through which the released coolness more efficiently passes from the cooling agent to the user. Further, the pre-wetting of the porous material reduces sudden shock from the contact of the cooling garment with the user's skin.
 The present invention can also have embodiments in which other areas of the body can be enclosed and cooling treatment being applied to those enclosed areas. An embodiment of the present invention has a vest design with multiple pockets containing a cooling agent. As a user wears the vest, the cooling agent releases the cooling treatment to chest and back areas. In another embodiment, the present invention there can be a design that will enclose an individual's arms or legs. In particular, the leg embodiment can be in the form of a pants design with pockets containing the cooling agent.
 The method and cooling device of the present invention provides significant advantages over the current art. The invention has been described in connection with its preferred embodiments. However, it is not limited thereto. Changes, variations and modifications to the basic design may be made without departing from the inventive concepts in this invention. In addition, these changes, variations and modifications would be obvious to those skilled in the art having the benefit of the foregoing teachings. All such changes, variations and modifications are intended to be within the scope of this invention.
Patent applications in class With body applicator
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