When a helicopter, armored vehicle, or tank crashes into a large body of water, the weight of the engine will quickly cause it to invert and begin to sink. Soldiers who are caught within the vehicle must be capable of exiting immediately in order to avoid drowning or being crushed by the military hardware. A person caught within such a vehicle may be dizzy, concussed, confused, or partially trapped by seating harnesses and safety belts. Furthermore, as water rushes in, the urge top panic can be overwhelming, and few people are capable of high-function decision making after several seconds of having to hold their breath. Underwater escape lighting is a new technological feature that allows for easy access to an emergency exit in times of extreme emergency.
Military personnel in the United States and the United Kingdom constantly test and re-test emergency escape scenarios in order to determine the location, efficiency, and operation of emergency escape exists. Tests done by both military outfits tend to have several dozen different hatches or doors that must be opened in the case of an emergency escape; prior to the late 1990s, there was no standardization of these exists. What’s more, tests indicated that jettisoning the hatch, doors, or windows would not provide enough information to evacuating personnel that the way was open and clear, so that in an emergency these pilots, crew, or passengers might waste precious time attempting to utilize the exit even as it had already been opened.
For the past three decades, LED units had been put in military hardware ranging from stealth bombers to armored motorcycles. These light units are bright enough to be seen quickly by a person even in pitch-black conditions, but in an underwater environment, they can fail to penetrate more than a few feet of clouded or turbulent water. This creates the very real problem of having to flee from a sinking vessel without knowing where the closest exit is. In the past ten years, underwater escape lighting has become a valuable tool to crewmen and women who could find themselves stuck in a life-threatening situation.
Unlike an LED unit that is powered by electricity, underwater escape lighting is activated by contact with water itself. The illumination given off is different from an LED unit and can be seen from distances as great as four meters (twelve feet) in water that is opaque or turbulent. Participants in test subjects, furthermore, proved capable of recognizing the light within as little as 1.2 seconds or as much as 2.4 seconds of its trigger, meaning that almost no time is wasted in the process. The result is that an emergency exit or panel with underwater escape lighting will be lit up brightly as soon as it comes into contact with water (or, in some cases, as soon as a certain mechanical trigger registers the impact of an improved explosive device). This technology has a profound impact in the way that military hardware will be designed for combat conditions in which a rapid exit is necessary.