BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to an improved protective face and head enclosure for use in cold environments, and more particularly to a frost-free protective face and head enclosure for such use and purpose. The structure is particularly adapted for use by individuals operating or riding upon relatively open vehicles, such as snowmobiles or the like.
In the operation of open-air vehicles under extreme cold conditions, the wearer must provide a means for protecting his face and head from the ambient air in order to avoid frostbite. While protection is possible under certain conditions, most systems have failed to provide adequate protection against frostbite without sacrificing visibility. The present invention provides a protective face and head enclosure which protects the wearer from frostbite, and does so without adversely affecting the visibility through the face covering.
In the operation of open vehicles such as snowmobiles and the like under conditions of high speed and low temperature, the drivers or passengers are subjected to wind-chilled temperatures substantially below -100° F. Thus, in order to protect these individuals from exposure to frostbite, without adversely affecting visibility, a frost-free protective face and head enclosure is desirable. In order to properly protect the wearer's face and head, a substantially rigid helmet means is desired, and a generally transparent face shield is also desired in order to provide transparency for that portion of the face shield covering the eyes. Unfortunately, whenever measures are taken to protect the face from extremely cold conditions, exhaled breath condenses upon any available surface so as to form a frost layer or ice barrier which becomes opaque. Thus, vision is adversely affected.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The apparatus of the present invention provides a means for adequately protecting the face and head of the wearer, without adversely affecting the visibility. Thus, a helmet or head covering means is provided with a face opening for the face of the wearer. Such helmets are generally commercially available, and are in wide use by snowmobilers, ski racers, and others. The protective enclosure of the present invention is further provided with a face mask which includes a face shield with a generally transparent eye covering portion, with means formed within the face mask to provide access to ambient air. Baffle means are provided on the inner surface of the face mask means for forming an isolation chamber which separates the nose and mouth of the wearer from the remaining interior portions of the face mask means. Check valve means are effectively coupled to isolate the chamber from the ambient, and conduit means are provided to permit the discharge of exhaled air from the chamber. In addition, means are provided to continuously pass ambient air through the discharge means for reducing the tendency of ice or frost formation within the discharge means.
In the operation of snowmobile vehicles and the like, particularly at night, the drivers are frequently unable to see or otherwise detect the presence of fences or the like in front of them. Occasionally, drivers or passengers in snowmobile vehicles traveling at high speeds collide with fences or horizontally suspended cables and suffer severe injuries as a result. Such injuries are particularly severe and aggravated when barb wire fences are struck by snowmobilers traveling at high speeds.
A further feature of the apparatus of the present invention is the provision of a generally rigid cylindrical element which extends outwardly from the exterior of the face mask portion, and generally at approximately the level of the base of the chin of the wearer. It is the purpose of this element to engage a horizontally suspended member such as a wire or the like which may be inadvertently struck by the wearer while traveling at high speeds, such as on a snowmobile or the like, and with such engagement providing a downward thrust on the wearer so as to reduce the tendency of such inadvertent contact from causing extensive facial or neck injuries from such impacts. Contact will accordingly be made between the wire and the chest of the wearer which is generally more capable of withstanding such impacts.
Therefore, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide an improved frost-free protective face and head enclosure for the protection of wearers from exposure to frostbite, without adversely affecting the vision of the wearer.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a frost-free protective face and head enclosure which provides a protective helmet for covering the head of the wearer, while providing a face opening with a generally transparent mask which is maintained in a substantially frost-free condition during use.
It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a frost-free protective face and head enclosure which is provided with means for protecting the wearer from facial injuries in the event a fence or other horizontally suspended member is inadvertently struck when the wearer may be moving at high speeds.
Other and further objects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon a study of the following specification, appended claims, and accompanying drawing.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the frost-free protective face and head enclosure fabricated in accordance with the present invention and illustrating certain details of the helmet portion and face mask portion thereof;
FIG. 2 is a horizontal sectional view taken along the line and in the direction of the arrows 2--2 of FIG. 1, and with the rear portion of the helmet being broken away;
FIG. 3 is a detail plan view of the face mask means only of the present invention;
FIG. 4 is a vertical sectional view taken along the line and in the direction of the arrows 4--4 of FIG. 3; and
FIG. 5 is a detail sectional view, on a slightly enlarged scale, of that portion of the assembly which permits substantially continuous egress of ambient air into the discharge tube of the breathing assembly.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, and with particular attention being directed to FIG. 1 of the drawing, the protective face and head enclosure means generally designated 10 includes a helmet portion 11 along with a face mask means or portion 12. The helmet head enclosure means is preferably a generally rigid head covering means and is, as is usual in the case, provided with a face opening for the face of the wearer. Such helmets are, as previously indicated, generally commercially available and are fabricated from a rigid layer of material for adequately protecting the head of the wearer from injury due to impact. The face mask means 12 includes a shield or the like 13 with a generally transparent eye covering portion 14 for providing visibility for the wearer. Face mask means or portion 12 is preferably secured to helmet 11 by means of the hinge coupling 15, with a latching or snap means being shown at 16 for securing the opposite end of the face mask means to the helmet.
Means are provided for controlling the breathing by the wearer, and for avoiding the passage of exhaled air across the surface of the eye covering portion 14. Accordingly, an isolation chamber or zone is provided, as shown generally at 18, this chamber being formed by generally cylindrical wall elements 19, which terminate in a soft, sponge, or synthetic resin foam member 20. The inner ends of wall 19 are coupled to the inner surface of face mask means 12 as at 21. As is apparent, the inner end surface 20 effectively makes contact with the area surrounding the nose and mouth of the wearer, so as to effectively seal this portion of the wearer's face from the interior of the face mask means. In other words, therefore, isolating chamber 18 provides an effective breathing compartment for the wearer.
In order to provide means for controllable access to ambient air, a check valve in the form of a flapper or the like is provided as at 22. A bore is formed in face mask means 12 so as to provide access to the ambient, the bore being shown at 23. Accordingly, upon inhaling by the wearer, the flapper valve 22 will assume the position shown in phantom in FIG. 4, and upon exhaling, check valve 22 will close, thus isolating the bores 23--23 from the ambient.
In order to provide for discharge of exhaled air, a first conduit means in the form of a pair of conduits 25 and 26 is provided. These conduits extend from the isolation chamber, having one end secured thereto, and with the other end being in communication with the ambient. Thus, the conduit means 25 and 26 extend from the isolating chamber 18 to a point external of the face mask means 12.
Attention is now directed to FIG. 5 of the drawing wherein the details of the means for maintaining the conduits 25 and 26 in frost-free condition is shown. In this connection, a second conduit means such as conduit 29 having one end arranged in communication with the ambient through bore 30, and with the other end terminating in the confines of the discharge conduit, such as conduit 25. The discharge end 31 of conduit 29 is disposed at a point closely adjacent the point at which conduit 25 enters isolating chamber 18, thus providing for effective removal of frost from the confines of conduit 25. A similar unit is provided, of course, for conduit 26.
It will be noted that a segment of the body of conduit 29 extends within the confines of isolating chamber 18. This disposition of conduit 29 provides a means for raising the temperature of ambient air passing therethrough, and thus enhances its ability to remove moisture from the confines of conduit 25, regardless of whether or not this moisture is in solid, liquid, or vapor form. It will be further observed from a study of FIG. 5 that conduit 29 is substantially smaller in diameter than conduit 25, thus providing a convenient means for coupling both conduit 29 and the isolating chamber 18 to conduit 25.
Attention is now directed to FIGS. 1-4 inclusive wherein the protector element is shown, this element being illustrated at 35. Protector element 35 is in the form of a cylindrical projection which extends outwardly from the base of the face mask portion 12, and is designed to produce a downward thrust on the head of the wearer upon impact with a suspended line such as a cable, fence, barb wire fence, or the like. Thus, in the event of contact between the wearer and a horizontally suspended line, the impact will be across the chest area of the wearer, which, being covered with bone, provides a more suitable point for such impact, should it occur.
In order to provide adequate breathing area to the isolating chamber 18, check valve 22 is arranged in overlying relationship to three separate bores, each of these bores being identified by the numeral 23. It will be appreciated that the number of openings, whether integral or not, is not critical to the operation of the structure, it merely being important that adequate area be provided to permit ease of breathing by the wearer.
The soft member 20 is preferably a cushion support material fabricated from sponge rubber, foamed polyurethane, or the like. Such materials are compatible with most materials of construction, and also are designed for contact with the skin of wearers, and thus provide a suitable means for establishing a seal between the face of the wearer and the isolating chamber or breathing compartment 18.
As a further feature of the structure of the present invention, the upper portion of the face mask means 12 is generally spaced from contact with the upper end or edge of the helmet. Thus, a gap area is provided as shown at 37. This gap area permits movement of air upwardly from the zone about the face of the wearer, and assists in maintaining the frost-free condition of the upper portion of the face mask means, particularly as at 14. It is frequently desirable for the wearer to isolate or protect the lower portion of the mask from free exposure to ambient air, and this may be accomplished or achieved by the wearer utilizing a garment which effectively covers the neck and chin. Such a garment will effectively isolate or seal the base of the face mask means 12 from the ambient, and may be desirable in certain instances.
As materials of construction, the transparent shield is preferably fabricated from a durable but flexible film material such as transparent vinyls or the like. These materials should have a thickness of approximately 1/16 inch to achieve sufficient durability for their intended purpose.
It will be appreciated that the frost-free protective face and head enclosure of the present invention provides a means for isolating the face and head of the wearer from the harsh environments, without subjecting the unit to danger from accumulation of frost so as to impair vision or the like. Furthermore, the structure provides a means for protecting the wearer from injury when and if impact with a suspended device may occur.