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"How to Use Trousers as a Life Preserver" from Intelligence Bulletin, February 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following article was published in the Intelligence Bulletin, February 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



The idea of using trousers as an auxiliary means of keeping a man afloat was submitted to the Office of Naval Intelligence by the commanding officer of the Naval Training Station, San Diego, Calif. All recruits trained at the station are taught the technique. This technique, with illustrations, is given in the Intelligence Bulletin because troops of all Army branches may be placed in situations where such knowledge might mean the saving of lives.


The first step in the process is to tie each leg of the trousers with a suitable string or cord about 3 or 4 inches from the bottom (study fig. 10). If no string or cord is available, tie an overhand knot with each leg. The trousers are then grasped in the position commonly used for dressing and swung overhead from the back. The man then jumps into the water, holding the trousers at arms' length over his head. Upon striking the water, the trousers are inflated. If time and facilities permit, wet the trousers thoroughly before inflation--this enables them to hold air better.

[Figure 10. Trousers Used As a Life Preserver.]
Figure 10. Trousers Used As a Life Preserver.

Recruits at the San Diego station are also trained to remove their trousers while in the water and prepare them for life preservers. The trousers are slipped off and the overhand knot is tied in the end of each trouser leg. The trousers are then brought quickly over the head at arms' length, from back to front, thereby inflating them with equal efficiency.

Tests have been made which prove that inflated trousers will hold a man's weight in water for as long as 2 hours. By re-inflating the trousers, the time can be extended as long as the man can repeat the inflating process.

To float or swim, after the trousers are inflated, the man places the inverted crotch of the trousers under his arms and chest.

Khaki cloth will hold air better than the more porous navy blue trousers. The navy white and khaki have about the same inflation value.


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