Updated: Nov 19, 2019
1. Driver Suits Buy You Time
The real value of your suit is to keep out the heat of a fire, and away from your skin.
The thicker (more layers) of insulation it has, the more seconds of protection you have before your skin burns.
Don’t sew patches on your suit! The stitching compresses the effective thickness of the insulation layer and creates hot spots.
2. Don’t Wear These Under Your Driver Suit
Synthetic nylon T Shirts can melt into your skin, even without direct fire exposure.
Anything screen-printed on a T Shirt will more quickly transfer heat to your skin and can “brand” you. The US Army learned this and changed their regs.
Anything metal transfers heat very quickly, presenting a local burn danger. This includes underwires in woman’s bras. Stand 21 makes an all-nomex bra.
3. Wear Your Underwear
Wear Nomex underwear – It provides additional seconds of burn protection, as well as wicking of sweat to aid cooling.
4. Cover Up EVERYTHING
Hands, feet, ankles, and long hair need fire retardant material cover too.
Visors can’t protect your face against fire unless they’re in place, and of good quality (not cheap replacements).
5. Stay Hydrated
Not drinking enough water leads to compromised decision making, and later, heat-stress.
An easy way to judge your hydration level? Look at your urine. Clearer: Good, Darker: Bad.
6. Heat Stress (a rise in internal body temperature)
It’s more serious that just getting “over-heated” – It effects judgment and health. May lead to stroke.
Search for a woven driver suit that breaths, allowing evaporative cooling to keep your body cool.
7. Keep Your Head On
HANS, FHR, or other “Frontal Head Restraints” limit the effort of high G forces trying to pull your head off of your neck in a forward crash.
At their most severe, these forces can cause a “Basilar Skull Fracture”, and instant death.
Having “strong neck muscles” is not enough!
8. Think of Your Brain as Being Like Jell-O
When your head stops on impact, the Jell-O-like brain can still slam into the skull, bruising the brain and causing a “concussion”.
After a serious head hit, don’t immediately return to action and potential re-injury. See a doctor if you’re concerned.
To help minimize impact to the brain, wrap roll-bar tubing with SFI 45.1 spec padding, and remember, your head can travel further on impact than you think.
9. Safe Helmet Removal after Crash
Pulling the helmet off of a crash victim may aggravate any neck or back injuries.
Wearing a balaclava with handles, like the Stand 21 “Lid Lifter”, allows helmet removal with minimal stress on the neck.
10. Think Beyond Just “Meeting the Rules”, and “Getting
Sanctioning body rules set minimum required protection specs.
They will not stop you from going beyond their minimums.
Ultimately, YOU need to do the research on how to best protect yourself and your loved ones who race!
See videos with more details on driver protection on YouTube.
Don Taylor, Director, Stand 21 Safety Foundation