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Chemical Equations

A shorthand way to sum up what occurs in a chemical reaction.

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Stay Warm for Life

Stay Warm for Life


Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Robert R. McRill
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_050430-N-5526M-043_Sailors_aid_men_and_women_after_their_boat,_a_fishing_vessel,_capsized_25_miles_off_the_coast_of_Somalia.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The people aboard this lifeboat are lucky. They were rescued by U.S. Navy personnel after their fishing boat capsized 25 miles off the coast of Somalia in East Africa. It’s not just the deep water or risk of sharks that threatens the lives of shipwreck victims. Another danger is the cold water.

Why It Matters

  • Falling into cold ocean water is a shock to the system. The longer someone stays in cold water, the lower the person’s body temperature falls. Before long, the person is likely to develop hypothermia, or a dangerously low body temperature. As body temperature continues to fall, organs shut down and death may occur.
  • Credit: NASA
    Source: http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-7163119469
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Swimming in severely cold water will lead to hyperthermia and other illnesses [Figure2]

  • A South African teen made it her mission to solve this problem. Danielle Mallabone decided to put chemistry to work to help keep people warm in the water and prevent hypothermia.
  • Danielle developed a special life jacket liner that uses a chemical reaction to produce heat. Reactions that produce heat are called exothermic reactions. In the reaction, two chemicals combine to synthesize a new product. Therefore, the reaction is also a synthesis reaction.
  • Before learning more about Danielle’s invention, watch what happens when the reaction she used occurs. Note that the thermometer in the following video measures temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. 


Can You Apply It?

Learn more about Danielle’s invention at the link below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. Describe the reaction that takes place in the video. What are the reactants? What product is synthesized? Write the chemical equation for the reaction.
  2. How much heat is released by the reaction in the video? How is the heat used?
  3. What is normal human body temperature? At what temperature does hypothermia set in?
  4. Describe the life jacket liner that Danielle Mallabone invented. How does it work?
  5. How did Danielle test and modify her life jacket liner design?

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