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This application claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/600,549 entitled “Disposable Protective. Garment,” and filed on Aug. 11, 2004 by inventor Kenneth Makowka.
The above cross-referenced related application is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to devices, systems, and processes useful for covering the human body, and more particularly, during an emergency response situation or contamination event.
2. Brief Description of the Related Art
A contaminating event occurs when a person is exposed to harmful chemicals, biological agents, or other toxins. The anthrax exposures in Washington D.C. during the fall of 2002, where people working in post offices and government buildings were potentially exposed to dust carrying anthrax, is a primary example of a contaminating event. Chemical or toxic spills are examples of other contaminating events that potentially affect both employees and emergency rescue workers.
When a contaminating event occurs, a person exposed to harmful chemicals or other toxins must go through a decontamination process. Typically, the contaminated person must be stripped of all garments and washed down. Studies have shown that removing contaminated outer garments also removes between 70 to 80% of the contaminating substance. Decontamination areas are often outside in a public place, and often affect a large amount of people at one time. As a result, the contaminated people have to remove their clothing in a public area. Thus, what is needed is a covering that allows people to cover themselves while removing their clothing before going through the decontamination process and while proceeding through the decontamination process.
Mass produced, disposable garments can also be difficult to size. In a contamination event, all types of people from adults to children, and people of all shapes and sizes may be affected. Yet, if the garment is not a decent fit, the person wearing the garment may still be quite exposed. Moreover, people tend to be scared and confused in such situations, and keeping the process simple and organized is very important to control the emergency area. Thus, people going through decontamination should be able to quickly obtain a fitted garment with as little time and/or confusion as possible.
Although prior systems, methods, and devices generally functioned well and provided advantages over prior systems, methods, and devices, they do not provide a garment which can be used in a decontamination environment while protecting the modesty of the wearer.
According to a first aspect of the invention, a disposable garment for use in an emergency environment is provided. Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a garment with means for fitting the garment to the size of the wearer. Still another aspect of the present invention is providing for the removal of the protective garment without further spreading contaminating substances.
Accordingly, the drawings and descriptions are to be regarded as illustrative in nature, and not as restrictive. Additional objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows and in part will be obvious from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention.
The invention of the present application will now be described in more detail with reference to preferred embodiments of the apparatus and method, given only by way of example, and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate an emergency protective garment in accordance with the present invention.
Referring to the drawing figures, like reference numerals designate identical or corresponding elements throughout the several figures.
Referring to FIG. 1, an emergency protective garment in accordance with the present invention is illustrated. The garment 10 is formed in one continuous piece, having a top 20, bottom 30 and sides 40. The garment 10 is cut from a material, preferably a low-density polyethelene (“LDPE”) ranging from 2.0 to 3.0 millimeters thick. Perforated edges are stamped into the material during the manufacturing process. Optionally, instructions, written and/or pictographic, on how to use the garment may be printed directly on the garment, with the material being able to accept and retain ink.
The garment generally has a front and back (not shown) that lay along the wearers chest and back, respectively. Similar to other garments, such as shirts, dresses, ponchos, and the like, which slip over the wearer's head, the garment 10 is open inside, allowing the wearer's body to fit in the interior, between the front and back of the garment 10. Various openings allow the garment 10 to be slipped over the body of a wearer. A neck hole 26 allows a wearer's head to pass through the top 20 side. Armholes 46 allow the wearer's arms to pass through the sides 40 of the garment. A bottom opening (not shown) is continuous from the bottom side 30 through the interior of the garment 10.
The wearer places his or her head into the bottom opening, and through the neck hole 26, and slides the garment 10 downward to cover the body. Once the garment 10 is in place, the wearer can remove his or her clothing while under the cover of the garment 10. Once all the clothing is removed, the wearer can extend his or her arms through the armholes 46 and freely move about.
In order to more effectively fit the garment 10 to each wearer's size, several tear-away strips 22, 24, 32, 24, 42, 44 are preferably situated adjacent to each opening. Each tear-away strip is attached to the garment at a perforated edge, so that the strip can be easily torn off and discarded. The arm 46 and neck 26 openings are sized for a smaller wearer. If a larger wearer needs to fit into the garment 10, he or she simply removes strip 22 and/or strip 24 and strip 42 and/or strip 44 as needed. Using the strips to adjust the openings prevents gapping where the wearer's body would be exposed to view. The length of the garment 10 is sized to initially fit the taller wearer, and cover the wearer down to about knee length. If a wearer is shorter, especially in the case of children, he or she can simply remove strip 32 and/or strip 34 to shorten the garment 10. Shortening the garment 10 not only fits the garment to the wearer, but also prevents the bottom 30 from dragging along the ground and being further contaminated. Using the tear away strips allows every person to be handed the same garment, and the confusion with trying to sort different sized garments, hand out different sizes, and get the right size, is completely avoided. It will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art that a tear-away strip may optionally be placed at one or more of the openings.
Preferably, the garment 10 is cut to measure approximately 3 feet across, i.e. between sides 40, and 4 feet from front to back. This size provides sufficient room to accommodate sizes from adult extra-small to size 3X in known clothing size conventions. Tear away strips 32, 34 adjacent to the bottom side 30, are preferably measure six inches in width measured in the direction of arrow C. The tear away opening strips 22, 24, 42, 44, preferable have a uniform thickness of one inch measured along arrows A and B.
Once the wearer has the protective garment 10 on, and all his or her clothing removed, he or she can shower and otherwise go through the decontamination process. Once the wearer has been decontaminated, he or she will most likely need to go to another facility for medical testing. Yet, the protective garment 10 may simply be wet and may carry some residual contamination. Thus, it may be desirable for the wearer to change into another protective garment or other clean garments. Yet, the wearer must be careful not to come into contact with any of the residual contamination.
Referring to FIG. 2, to remedy this situation, the garment 10 of the present invention is formed with a continuous perforated seam 50 along one of the sides 40. The continuous perforated seam 50 extends from the neck opening 26 to the arm hole 46 and from the arm hole 46 to the bottom side 30. An emergency response worker, preferably wearing gloves, can pull the garment 10 apart along the continuous perforated seam 50, pull the garment 10 away from the wearer's body, and dispose of the contaminated garment 10 without the wearer ever having to touch the garment 10.
While the invention has been described in detail with reference to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes can be made, and equivalents employed, without departing from the scope of the invention. Each of the aforementioned documents is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.