Title:
PROTECTIVE BATHTUB COVER ASSEMBLY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective bathtub cover assembly (10) for protecting a user (not shown) during inclement weather is disclosed. The inventive cover assembly (10) is used in conjunction with a bathtub (12) to protect a user within a basin (24) of the bathtub (12). The cover assembly (10) broadly includes a vented cover (16) that is configured to span an open top (28) of the basin (24) and an attachment mechanism (18) operable to releasably secure the vented cover (16) to the bathtub (12). The attachment mechanism (18) includes a manual operator (72) that is accessible from the basin (24) and thereby permits selective basin (24) ingress and egress by the user.



Inventors:
Shanks, Walter F. (Weatherby, MO, US)
Application Number:
10/907968
Publication Date:
10/26/2006
Filing Date:
04/22/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/024; A47K3/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hovey Williams LLP (10801 Mastin Blvd., Suite 1000, Overland Park, KS, 66210, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A protective bathtub cover assembly for installation on a bathtub including a basin with an open top, said protective bathtub cover assembly comprising: a vented cover configured to span the open top of the basin when in a protective position relative to the bathtub, thereby preventing basin ingress and egress while permitting venting between the basin and ambient environment; and a selectively releasable attachment mechanism configured to secure the vented cover to the bathtub in the protective position, said attachment mechanism including a manual operator operable to release the attachment mechanism so as to permit the vented cover to be removed from the protective position, said manual operator being located so as to be accessible from the basin and thereby manually controllable from within the basin when the vented cover is in the protective position.

2. The protective bathtub cover assembly of claim 1, said manual operator being manually controllable from above the vented cover when the vented cover is in the protective position.

3. The protective bathtub cover assembly of claim 2, said attachment mechanism including a plurality of fasteners configured to be rigidly coupled to the bathtub, the fasteners being spaced about the open top, said vented cover being removably fixed to said fasteners when the vented cover is secured in the protective position.

4. The protective bathtub cover assembly of claim 3, said attachment mechanism including a spring-loaded latch coupled to the vented cover, the latch including a latch bolt slidable relative to the vented cover, the latch bolt being biased into a latching position for securing the vented cover in the protective position, the latch bolt operably coupled to the manual operator for slidably releasing the latch bolt from the latching position.

5. The protective bathtub cover assembly of claim 4, said attachment mechanism including a bolt receiving portion, said bolt receiving portion rigidly coupled to at least one of the fasteners, said bolt receiving portion including a bolt hole adapted to receive the latch bolt when the latch bolt is in the latching position thereby rigidly securing the vented cover in the protective position.

6. The protective bathtub cover assembly of claim 3, said vented cover having opposite first and second ends, said attachment mechanism including a laterally extending channel proximate to the first end of the vented cover, the first end adapted to slide into and out of the channel, said attachment mechanism including a spring-loaded latch proximately coupled to the second end of the vented cover, said latch including a latch bolt slidable relative to the vented cover, said attachment mechanism including a laterally extending bar, said bar rigidly coupled to at least one of the fasteners, said bar including a bolt hole adapted to receive the latch bolt and thereby rigidly connect the open top to the vented cover.

7. The protective bathtub cover assembly of claim 1, said vented cover including a frame and a panel extending therebetween.

8. The protective bathtub cover assembly of claim 7, the panel being formed of a material selected from the group consisting of expanded metal, sheet metal, composite plastic, and combination thereof.

9. The protective bathtub cover assembly of claim 1, said vented cover having a width less than about 48 inches.

10. The protective bathtub cover assembly of claim 9, said vented cover having a length less than about 72 inches.

11. A protective bathtub assembly comprising: a bathtub including a basin with an open top; and a protective bathtub cover assembly for installation on the bathtub, said protective bathtub cover assembly including, a vented cover spanning the open top of the basin when in a protective position relative to the bathtub, thereby preventing basin ingress and egress while permitting venting between the basin and ambient environment; and a selectively releasable attachment mechanism securing the vented cover to the bathtub in the protective position, said attachment mechanism including a manual operator operable to release the attachment mechanism so as to permit the vented cover to be removed from the protective position, said manual operator being located so as to be accessible from the basin and thereby manually controllable from within the basin when the vented cover is in the protective position.

12. The protective bathtub assembly of claim 11, said manual operator being manually controllable from above the vented cover when the vented cover is in the protective position.

13. The protective bathtub assembly of claim 12, said attachment mechanism including a plurality of fasteners rigidly coupled to the bathtub, the fasteners being spaced about the open top, said vented cover being removably fixed to said fasteners when the vented cover is secured in the protective position.

14. The protective bathtub assembly of claim 13, said attachment mechanism including a spring-loaded latch coupled to the vented cover, the latch including a latch bolt slidable relative to the vented cover, the latch bolt being biased into a latching position for securing the vented cover in the protective position, the latch bolt operably coupled to the manual operator for slidably releasing the latch bolt from the latching position.

15. The protective bathtub assembly of claim 14, said attachment mechanism including a bolt receiving portion, said bolt receiving portion rigidly coupled to at least one of the fasteners, said bolt receiving portion including a bolt hole adapted to receive the latch bolt when the latch bolt is in the latching position thereby rigidly securing the vented cover in the protective position.

16. The protective bathtub assembly of claim 13, said vented cover having opposite first and second ends, said attachment mechanism including a laterally extending channel proximate to the first end of the vented cover, the first end adapted to slide into and out of the channel, said attachment mechanism including a spring-loaded latch proximately coupled to the second end of the vented cover, said latch including a latch bolt slidable relative to the vented cover, said attachment mechanism including a laterally extending bar, said bar rigidly coupled to at least one of the fasteners, said bar including a bolt hole adapted to receive the latch bolt and thereby rigidly connect the open top to the vented cover.

17. The protective bathtub assembly of claim 11, said vented cover including a frame and a panel extending therebetween.

18. The protective bathtub assembly of claim 17, the panel being formed of a material selected from the group consisting of expanded metal, sheet metal, composite plastic, and combination thereof.

19. The protective bathtub assembly of claim 11, said vented cover having a width less than about 48 inches.

20. The protective bathtub assembly of claim 19, said vented cover having a length less than about 72 inches.

21. A method for a user to take shelter in a bathtub from inclement weather, the bathtub including a basin with an open top, comprising the steps of: (a) placing one's self into the basin of the bathtub; (b) arranging a vented cover overhead to span the open top; and (c) while occupying the basin, securing the vented cover to the bathtub in a protective position to prevent basin ingress and egress.

22. The method of claim 21; and (d) releasing the vented cover from the bathtub to thereby permit movement of the vented cover from the protective position.

23. The method of claim 22, step (d) including the step of operating a manual operator from within the basin to perform said releasing step.

24. The method of claim 22; step (d) including the step of operating a manual operator from above the vented cover to perform said releasing step.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the field of protective covers. More specifically, the present invention concerns a protective bathtub cover assembly with a cover that is removably attached to a bathtub for protecting a person within the bathtub from inclement weather.

2. Discussion of Prior Art

People who live in areas that experience violent weather such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, hail, or other storms that can cause property damage have a need to seek shelter from those storms. Storms are often unpredictable because they can develop quickly, move quickly, and change direction. People in the path of such storms often have no access to a basement, cellar, or other below-ground space that is insulated from high winds and debris. Those without a basement or cellar, due to the unpredictability of storms, often do not have time to seek shelter outside of their home. Therefore, people have a need for protection from violent weather in an above-ground room.

It is known in the art for people, during inclement weather, to seek shelter in an above-ground structure, especially in a room that has no windows, doors, or walls that are part of an external wall of the structure. Local and state government authorities often recommend taking protective steps in the event of a storm, such as sheltering in an internal room, sheltering under a sturdy table, or covering one's self with a mattress, sheet or blanket. These prior art above-ground structures, covers and methods are problematic and all suffer from undesirable limitations. One limitation of the prior art covers is that a mattress, sheet or blanket must be held in place by a person protected by that cover. Such a limitation is problematic if a violent storm breaches the room because the person must overcome forces that would otherwise tend to displace the cover, such as high winds or falling debris. These external forces are often strong enough that a person cannot keep a cover from being displaced. A related limitation of these improvised covers is that they do not keep a person secured within the room. Often, winds from a violent storm are strong enough to displace the person from a room that has been breached. In some instances, an entire room or house may be displaced by a storm such that the person is thrown within or out of the room. Another limitation of these above-ground methods is that the room itself is subject to breach. Glass windows, doors, and walls constructed of wood, siding, and plasterboard are often breached by debris thrown by the high winds of a violent storm. On the other hand, reinforcing these structures to resist high winds would be complicated and expensive, as would adding a below-ground structure to an existing house. Accordingly, there is a need for an improved protective cover assembly that does not suffer from these problems and limitations.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a protective cover assembly that does not suffer from the problems and limitations of the prior art detailed above. The inventive cover assembly enables a cover that may be removably secured to a bathtub in a protective position without requiring the user to hold the cover in place.

A first aspect of the present invention concerns a protective bathtub cover assembly for installation on a bathtub including a basin with an open top. The assembly broadly includes a vented cover configured to span the open top of the basin when in a protective position relative to the bathtub, and a selectively releasable attachment mechanism configured to secure the vented cover to the bathtub in the protective position. When in the protective position, the vented cover prevents basin ingress and egress while permitting venting between the basin and ambient environment. The attachment mechanism includes a manual operator that is operable to release the attachment mechanism to permit the vented cover to be removed from the protective position. The manual operator is located to be accessible from the basin and thereby manually controllable from within the basin when the vented cover is in the protective position.

A second aspect of the present invention concerns a protective bathtub assembly. The assembly broadly includes a bathtub including a basin with an open top, and a protective bathtub cover assembly for installation on the bathtub. The protective bathtub cover assembly includes a vented cover that spans the open top of the basin when in a protective position relative to the bathtub, and a selectively releasable attachment mechanism that secures the vented cover to the bathtub in the protective position. When in the protective position, the vented cover prevents basin ingress and egress while permitting venting between the basin and ambient environment. The attachment mechanism includes a manual operator that is operable to release the attachment mechanism to permit the vented cover to be removed from the protective position. The manual operator is located to be accessible from the basin and thereby manually controllable from within the basin when the vented cover is in the protective position.

A third aspect of the present invention concerns a method for a user to take shelter in a bathtub from inclement weather, where the bathtub includes a basin with an open top. The method broadly includes the steps of placing one's self into the basin of the bathtub, arranging a vented cover overhead to span the open top, and securing the vented cover to the bathtub in a protective position to prevent basin ingress and egress. The step of securing the vented cover to the bathtub occurs while occupying the basin.

Other aspects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments and the accompanying drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

Preferred embodiments of the invention are described in detail below with reference to the attached drawing figures, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a protective bathtub cover assembly with a vented cover disposed above a bathtub but not in a protective position;

FIG. 1a is a sectional schematic view of the protective bathtub cover assembly of FIG. 1 with the vented cover in the protective position;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the protective bathtub cover assembly of FIG. 1 with the vented cover in the protective position;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the protective bathtub cover assembly showing a portion of the vented cover and the attachment mechanism adjacent to a spout of the bathtub;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the protective bathtub cover assembly showing a portion of the vented cover and the attachment mechanism adjacent the end of the tub opposite from the spout;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view of the protective bathtub cover assembly taken generally along line 5-5 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view of the protective bathtub cover assembly taken generally along line 6-6 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the protective bathtub cover assembly with an alternative vented cover in the protective position;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the protective bathtub cover assembly of FIG. 7, showing a portion of the alternative vented cover and a second alternative attachment mechanism adjacent to the spout;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the protective bathtub cover assembly of FIG. 7, showing a portion of the alternative vented cover and the second alternative attachment mechanism adjacent the end of the tub opposite from the spout;

FIG. 10 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view of the alternative protective bathtub cover assembly taken generally along line 10-10 of FIG. 7;

FIG. 11 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view of the alternative protective bathtub cover assembly taken generally along line 11-11 of FIG. 7; and

FIG. 12 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of a third embodiment of the protective bathtub cover assembly showing a portion of the alternative vented cover, which is similar in many respects to that shown in FIG. 7, and the attachment mechanism adjacent to the spout.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 illustrates a protective bathtub cover assembly 10 in combination with a bathtub 12 to provide a protective bathtub assembly 14. The cover assembly 10 is configured for protecting a user within the bathtub 12 during periods of inclement weather. Although the cover assembly 10 is adapted for this purpose, the principles of the present invention are applicable in other contexts where a person wants to provide a protected space within an otherwise open basin using a releasably attached cover. As shown in FIG. 1, the cover assembly 10 broadly includes a vented cover 16 and an attachment mechanism 18.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 1a, the bathtub 12 presents sides 20 and bottom 22 that form a basin 24. The sides 20 extend up from the horizontal, rectangular bottom 22 to meet a generally horizontal upper surface 26 of the bathtub 12. The basin 24 presents an open top 28 having a periphery along the upper surface 26. The upper surface 26, as shown in FIG. 1, is generally rectangular in shape. The bathtub 12 has first and second ends 34,36 and is disposed within an alcove 30 formed by wall 32 on three sides of the bathtub 12. Protruding from the wall 32 and adjacent to the first end 34 are water spout 38 and water valves 40. The bathtub 12 has a length dimension L and a width dimension W. Most preferably, the length L is generally less than about 72 inches and the width W is generally less than about 48 inches. However, it is within the principles of the present invention to use various bathtub size and shape configurations, such as a bathtub with larger length and width dimensions, or a bathtub having a basin of generally oval or circular shape, although it is most preferably located indoors and sized for single or double occupancy.

The vented cover 16, as shown in FIGS. 1-6, is arranged relative to the bathtub 12. As FIG. 1 illustrates, the preferred vented cover 16 is generally flat and rectangular in shape and includes first and second ends 42,44. The vented cover 16 includes a frame 46 extending along an outer margin of the vented cover 16. In the illustrated embodiment, the frame 46 is formed from several pieces of extruded metal having a C-shaped (channel) cross-section that are welded together, although other suitable frame configurations can be used. A panel 48 of the vented cover 16 extends across substantially all of the area within the frame 46 and is welded to the frame 46. As illustrated in FIG. 4, the vented cover 16 further includes an operator access opening 50 located adjacent to the second end 44 of the vented cover 16. The operator access opening 50 is formed by removing a rectangular portion of the panel 48 adjacent to the second end 44 and by framing that portion with additional pieces of channel. Alternatively to welding, the panel 48 and channel pieces may be assembled by other fastening techniques (e.g., fasteners) known by those of ordinary skill in the art. The panel 48, as shown in FIGS. 1-4, is formed of a sheet of expanded metal. In this manner, the vented cover 16 provides vents 52 in the panel 48 that allow the flow of air between a top surface 54 and a bottom surface 56 of the panel 48, as shown in FIG. 5. The flat and lightweight construction of the vented cover 16 allows the user to remove the cover 16 and easily store it in a closet or under a bed.

Turning to FIG. 1, the vented cover 16 is associated with the bathtub 12 by arranging the first and second ends 42,44 so that they are respectively adjacent to the first and second ends 34,36 of the bathtub 12. The cover 16 is then moved so that the first end 42 is arranged below the spout 38 while the second end 44 is raised relative to the first end 42. The vented cover 16 can then be placed in a protective position, as shown in FIG. 2. In the protective position, the vented cover 16 spans the open top 28 to have a substantially overlying relationship to the open top 28. In this manner, a person within the basin 24 is protected along the entirety of the open top 28 when the vented cover 16 is in the protective position. The cover 16 further prevents basin ingress and egress while in the protective position. In the protective position, the vents 52 allow the flow of air between the basin 24 and an ambient environment 60. As FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate, a gap 62 is provided between the vented cover 16 and the bathtub 12, when the cover 16 is placed in the protective position, to further vent the area within the basin 24 covered by the cover 16.

As discussed previously, the cover assembly 10 includes the attachment mechanism 18. Turning to FIGS. 3-6, the attachment mechanism 18 includes fasteners 64, cover-receiving sections 66,68, a spring-loaded latch 70, and a manual operator 72. The fasteners 64 are disposed along the upper surface 26, and as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, each fastener 64 includes a captive nut 74, a rubber spacer 76, and a machine screw 78 extending through the spacer 76 and being threaded into the captive nut 74. The fastener 64 is secured to the bathtub 12 by cutting or drilling a hole through the upper surface 26 and installing the captive nut 74. The captive nut 74 is secured to the bathtub 12 by means of a frictional fit or other locking means known to those of ordinary skill in the art.

Attached by the fasteners 64 to the bathtub 12 along the first and second ends 34,36 are respective cover-receiving sections 66,68. The cover-receiving sections 66,68 are extruded lengths of metal having a generally continuous C-shaped or channel-type cross-section. The sections 66,68 extend laterally along the upper surface 26 and generally parallel to the first and second ends 34,36. The cover-receiving sections 66,68 include vertically-extending through-holes 80, each of which accept one of the machine screws 78. The through-holes 80 of sections 66,68 are aligned with captive nuts 74 so that machine screws 78 may extend through the holes 80, spacers 76, and be threaded into captive nuts 74. In this manner, the cover-receiving sections 66,68 are releasably secured to the bathtub 12. However, it is within the ambit of the present invention to use various alternative fastener configurations for securing the sections 66,68 relative to the bathtub 12. For example, the cover-receiving sections 66,68 may be secured using other varieties of fasteners, such as metal-cutting screws, rivets, or adhesives. Furthermore, the sections 66,68 may be integrally formed as part of the bathtub 12. It is also within the ambit of the present invention that the sections 66,68 may be attached to other portions of the upper surface 26 or integrally attached to the wall 32 surrounding the bathtub 12.

Turning to FIGS. 4 and 6, the attachment mechanism 18 further includes the spring-loaded latch 70 adjacent the second end 44 of the vented cover 16. The latch 70 includes two spaced-apart bolt housings 84 fixed to the vented cover 16 and along the length of the second end 44. Slidably engaged within the bolt housing 84 is a latch bolt 86 and a spring 88 for biasing the latch bolt 86 into an extended position 90. When in the extended position 90, a portion of the latch bolt 86 protrudes out from the vented cover 16, as shown in FIG. 6. A keeper (not shown) retains the latch bolt 86 from further protruding beyond the extended position 90.

The attachment mechanism 18 includes the manual operator 72 that extends laterally between and is attached to ends of the two latch bolts 86. The manual operator 72 is also positioned, relative to the vented cover 16, within the operator access opening 50, as shown in FIG. 2. In this manner, the manual operator 72 is preferably accessible and controllable from within the basin 24 when the vented cover 16 is in the protective position. However, it is consistent with the scope of the present invention that the manual operator 72 may be positioned outside of the opening 50 and spaced above or below the panel 48 to allow similar access to the manual operator 72 from within the basin 24. In the illustrated embodiment, the manual operator 72 is also positioned relative to the operator access opening 50 to be controllable from above the vented cover 16 when the vented cover 16 is in the protective position.

A user, from within the basin 24 or above the vented cover 16, can access the manual operator to exert a pulling force F on the manual operator 72 in the direction of the first end 42. This causes the bolts 86 to retract from the extended position 90, provided that the pulling force F overcomes the spring force of springs 88. Subsequent removal of the pulling force F causes the springs 88 to bias the bolts 86 back into the extended position 90. Thus, the manual operator 72 provides a handle for the user to simultaneously retract the latch bolts 86 from the extended position 90.

Turning to FIGS. 5 and 6, the inventive cover assembly 10 allows the vented cover 16 to be freely moved into and out of the protective position. The cover 16 is placed into the protective position by initially arranging it over the open top 28 so that the cover 16 spans the width of the open top 28. As discussed previously, the vented cover 16 is arranged so that the first and second ends 42,44 are respectively adjacent to the first and second ends 34,36 of the bathtub 12. The first end 42 is then arranged proximate the cover-receiving section 66 by tilting the first end 42 below the spout 38, so that the cover 16 is in a first open position. As shown in FIG. 5, the cover-receiving section 66 has an open face 94 having a width WC. The frame 46 has a width WF that is less than width WC so that the section 66 may receive the frame 46. The first end 42 is engaged by the cover-receiving section 66 by shifting the cover 16 so that first end 42 passes through the open face 94. The cover 16 is fully moved toward and therein received by the cover-receiving section 66 in a second open position (shown in FIG. 6). The second end 44 is above the first end 42 in the first and second open positions. The width WC is such that the first end 42 is free to rotate inside the cover-receiving section 66 over an angle α. In this manner, the cover-receiving section 66 and first end 42 cooperate to provide the cover 16 with hinge-like movement about the first end 42. This freedom of movement allows the user to more easily move the cover 16 while occupying the basin 24.

After the first end 42 is received within the cover-receiving section 66, the second end 44 is free to rotate down from the second open position until the extended latch bolts 86 contact the cover-receiving section 68. The cover-receiving section 68 includes strike plates 98, each of which have bolt holes 100 extending therethrough, as illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 6. Each of the bolt holes 100 are adapted to receive a respective latch bolt 86, when the vented cover 16 is in the protective position. Because the latch bolts 86 are biased in the extended position 90, they provide resistance to moving the second end 44 into the protective position. To place the cover 16 in the protective position, the latch bolts 86 must be moved to a retracted position (not shown) so that they do not protrude from the cover 16. The bolts 86 can be retracted using the manual operator 72. This allows the cover 16 to drop into the protective position. Alternatively, the cover 16 can be forced into the protective position without the use of the manual operator 72. The latch bolts 86 each include a cam 104 that engages the respective strike plate 98 if the bolts 86 are extended. The camming action causes the bolts 86 to retract when the cover 16 is moved down into the protective position without using the manual operator 72. The bolts 86, when aligned with the bolt holes 100, are free to extend through those holes 100 and be received within the cover-receiving section 68. The cover 16 is then secured in the protective position. In the protective position, the cover 16 spans the length of the open top 28 and the width of the open top 28.

Again referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, the vented cover 16 is removed from the protective position by retracting the latch bolts 86 until they do not pass through their respective bolt holes 100. The second end 44 is then free to be raised above the first end 42, into the second open position so that the first end 42 may be removed from within the cover-receiving section 66. This is accomplished by moving the cover 16 toward the second end 36 and back to the first open position. After removing the cover 16 from the cover-receiving section 66, the cover 16 is free to be moved away from the bathtub 12.

It is within the ambit of the present invention for the vented cover 16 to be moved into and out of the protective position in other ways. For example, the vented cover 16 could slide into the protective position. This would be done by arranging the vented cover 16 horizontally next to the bathtub 12 and then inserting the end 42 into section 66 and sliding the cover sideways until the end 42 is engaged along its length by section 66.

In operation, the vented cover 16 of the protective bathtub cover assembly 10 is placed and held in the protective position by use of the attachment mechanism 18. The user arranges the vented cover 16 relative to the bathtub 12 so that the first and second ends 42,44 are respectively adjacent to the first and second ends 34,36 of the bathtub 12. As the first end 42 is arranged adjacent to the cover-receiving section 66, the second end 44 is spaced above the first end 42 while permitting user ingress or egress from the basin 24. As the user crouches into the basin, the user can slide the first end 42 into the cover-receiving section 66 while lowering the second end 44. As the user continues to crouch into the basin 24 and assume a prone position, the second end 44 may be further lowered toward the protective position. The user moves the vented cover 16 into the protective position by retracting the latch bolts 86 from their extended position 90 with a pulling motion on the manual operator 72 or by forcing the cover 16 so that the cam 104 retracts the bolts 86. This allows the latch bolts 86 to be aligned with the respective bolt-receiving holes 100 of the attachment mechanism 18, so that the bolts 86 may extend and be received in those holes 100. Once the bolts 86 are aligned with holes 100 and the manual operator 72 is released, the bolts 86 are biased into the extended position 90 and the cover is secured in the protective position.

The vented cover 16 is detached from the protective position by retracting the latch bolts 86 from their respective bolt-receiving holes 100. The retracting step occurs when the user slides the manual operator 72 toward the first end 42. Again, the manual operator 72 is positioned relative to the vented cover 16 to be accessible and controllable from within the basin 24. As the latch bolts 86 are retracted from the bolt-receiving holes 100, the user can raise the second end 44 while sliding the first end 42 away from the channel section. The user may then move the vented cover 16 away from the open top 28 permitting basin 24 ingress and egress.

Turning to FIGS. 7-11, an alternative embodiment of a protective bathtub cover assembly 200 is illustrated. An alternative vented cover 202 with first and second ends 204,206 includes a generally rectangular frame 208 and a panel 210 extending along and between the frame 208. The panel 210 is made of a generally continuous piece of sheet metal that provides enhanced protection. Alternatively, the panel 210 may be formed of a non-metal material, such as a composite plastic including glass fiber, carbon fiber, or aramid fiber. The alternative cover 202 provides venting between the basin 212 of bathtub 214 and ambient environment 216. As illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11, this venting is provided by vent 218 of the cover 202 located between the frame 208 and the bathtub 214. The panel 210 includes an access opening 220 adjacent to the second end 206. The panel 210 further includes a raised portion 222 having four upwardly extending sides 224 of trapezoidal shape and a rectangular top 226 extending horizontally between the sides 224. In this manner, the raised portion 222 provides additional room below the cover 202. The panel further includes cut-outs 228, shown in FIG. 8.

The cover assembly 200 includes an alternative attachment mechanism 230 having fasteners 232 that secure cover-receiving sections 234,236 disposed along respective first and second ends 238,240 of the bathtub 214. The sections 234,236 each have two spaced-apart posts 242 aligned and secured by the fasteners 232 to the bathtub 214, with spacers 244 disposed therebetween. As shown in FIGS. 8 and 10, the section 234 has a C-shaped cross-section and a laterally extending slot 246 that receives the frame 208. The section 234 further includes vertical through-holes 248. As shown in FIGS. 9 and 11, the section 236 has a generally rectangular cross-section with laterally extending bolt-receiving holes 250 and vertical through-holes 252. The bolt-receiving hole 250 presents an open face 254. The section 236 also includes a laterally extending ledge 256 that is disposed below the bolt-receiving hole 250 and protrudes toward the first end 238 beyond the open face 254.

The alternative protective cover assembly 200 is placed into the protective position by aligning the cut-outs 228 with the posts 242 of section 234. The second end 206 of the cover 202 is then free to be arranged so that latch bolts 260 are aligned with respective bolt-receiving holes 250.

Turning to FIG. 12, a third alternative cover assembly 300 includes a vented cover 302 that is generally similar to that shown in FIGS. 7-11. However, the attachment mechanism 304 is alternatively configured to include a plurality of posts 306. The posts 306 have oppositely spaced flanges 308 that include a through-hole 310. Fasteners 312 extend through each of through-holes 310 to secure the post 306 to bathtub 310. The posts 306 are otherwise configured similarly to posts 242 shown in FIG. 8. For example, the posts 306 have a C-shaped cross-section and a slot 314 that receives frame 316. The alternative cover assembly 300 is placed into the protective position by aligning cut-outs 318 with the posts 306.

It is within the ambit of the present invention to use the protective bathtub cover assemblies 10,200,300 in different applications. For example, the cover may be used for temporarily storing or protecting items in the basin or for storing items on the cover but above the basin. The cover may also be used for protecting children from falling into a basin.

The preferred forms of the invention described above are to be used as illustration only, and should not be utilized in a limiting sense in interpreting the scope of the present invention. Obvious modifications to the exemplary embodiments, as hereinabove set forth, could be readily made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the present invention.

The inventor hereby states his intent to rely on the Doctrine of Equivalents to determine and assess the reasonably fair scope of the present invention as pertains to any apparatus not materially departing from but outside the literal scope of the invention as set forth in the following claims.





 
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