Inflatable Lightning-Resistant Umbrella
The danger of electrocution by lightning strike is a problem seen by golfers, boaters, and other outdoor groups of people that may be subjected to sudden electrical storms. This invention aims to provide a compact, portable, quickly-deployed shield from such strikes.
Designs for inflatable umbrellas have been around for a while. However, this invention will incorporate a high-voltage insulating gas such as sulfur hexafluoride, octafluorocyclopropane, or other such gases or mixtures as the inflating gas. Combined with other non-conductive materials for its construction, this will allow a person caught in a sudden thunderstorm, to be shielded from a lightning strike either as a ground streamer or a direct strike. An auxiliary device might also be used in the form of inflatable shoe supports or a platform filled with the same insulating gas, to resist electrical flow through the ground.
Some previous non-inflatable lightning-resistant designs utilize a conductive upper surface as a means of reducing the likelihood of a discharge, which could be further investigated as an improvement to this model.
Production of this device should be relatively simple using existing inflatable manufacturing techniques, and a system for producing the gas quickly from a small compressed cylinder would be employed. After use, a valve would be employed to release the inflation gas, fold the umbrella back into its container, and a replacement gas cylinder installed. Alternatively, the umbrella may be manufactured as one-time use, whereby the unit could be returned for collection, deflated and the gas recovered to prevent release into the atmosphere.