22th  June  2003  Volume 9, Issue 49

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Life saving
new invention

By Shezna Shums

Odiris Engineering Co. (Pvt.) Ltd. owner,  N.W.Odiris Perera has invented " a self dousing wick closing lamp" with the idea of reducing the number of accidental lamp burn injuries.

In 1998 Perera had seen on TV images of burnt victims where the accidents were due to kerosene lamps toppling over,  setting fire,  destroying property, as well as causing severe burn injuries to people.

Seeing the plight of these victims and their families gave Perera the motivation and inspiration to invent a lamp that was affordable and safe for the poor.

According to Odiris Perera it is not the kerosene that is dangerous but it is more the flame that causes the damage.

When a conventional lamp topples over and the kerosene spills there will be danger only if the flame is still alight to spread on to the spilt kerosene.

However with this new lamp, when it topples over, immediately the flame is put off. Therefore even if the kerosene spills there will be no damage as there is no flame to ignite the spilt kerosene.

For the poor

Speaking to The Sunday Leader inventor Perera said "this lamp costs only Rs. 20 and it was not invented with the intention of selling it commercially.  It was made with the purpose of giving it to the poor"

Secretary, Odiris Engineering Co. (Pvt.) Ltd., Ananda Sirisena said "we have shown it at many exhibitions before but received no support for our efforts, but now the Rotary Club is planning to buy some lamps and distribute them among the poor."

Buying a lamp like this - even for Rs. 20 - is not an easy task to heavily burdened poor folk whose lives are a constant struggle. These are people who find it hard to buy even a piece of bread to eat," said Sirisena.

What should ideally be done is organisations and NGOs or even individuals should buy these lamps and distribute them amongst the poor.  For someone who can afford it it is not difficult to spend Rs. 20 for one lamp and give it to the people who need it.

"The poor man will take an old bottle, some wire and cloth and make a lamp with no concern for safety.  By giving even one lamp such as this to people, the accident risk is reduced and it would be ideal if all the poor households' unsafe lamps were exchanged for safe lamps."

Effective than conventional lamps

Sirisena explained how this lamp is far more effective than conventional kerosene lamps that people use. "The technique adopted in the lamp is to douse the flame immediately by using the force of gravity," he explained.

The weight over an inbuilt spring varies at different angles. The greatest of force is when the lamp is at 90 degrees. The moment this angle is achieved the spring thrusts the weight along its axis.

The wick is held in a cylinder fixed to the cap and a  flat disk is fitted to an outer cylinder.

The spring is between the cap and the weight. When the lamp tilts 45 degrees the outer cylinder travels over the inner cylinder past the edge of the burning wick and puts off the flame instantly due to the spring action which cuts off the oxygen supply to the flame.

A discarded empty jam bottle with a metal cap, thin metal strips and a thick piece of metal similar to the size and shape of a one rupee coin and some soldering lead is all that goes into  making this lamp.

Sirisena says that this lamp was made with practicality taken into consideration. "Even if the this lamp breaks  all that is needed is another empty jam bottle as it is made from discarded jam bottles so the lid will fit another bottle," says Sirisena.

Out of sympathy

Odiris Perera also introduced the table top coconut scraper to Sri Lanka  in 1952. He claims this lamp is not commercially viable though he spent a lot of time to make several models purely on grounds of sympathy towards burn victims and their families.

The end users  of this  lamp however are not  prepared to pay any price for this lamp due to poverty and lack of concern for safety.

However the problem of burn victims is a burden to society. Those concerned about the welfare of the poor can venture into manufacturing this lamp or buying and distributing it in order to popularise it among the poor and needy with a view to minimising fire hazards.

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