Title:
Flotation device coupled to a lid of a storage container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A throwable personal flotation device is detachably coupled to a lid of a storage container.



Inventors:
Weast, Mike (Elmira, OR, US)
Application Number:
11/301840
Publication Date:
06/14/2007
Filing Date:
12/12/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/592.03, 206/223
International Classes:
B65D51/00; B65D71/00; F25D23/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VOLZ, ELIZABETH J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOMBLE BOND DICKINSON (US) LLP (ATTN: IP DOCKETING P.O. BOX 7037, ATLANTA, GA, 30357-0037, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus comprising: a lid attachable to a storage container, the lid capable of having at least one personal flotation device (PFD) detachably coupled thereto.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the storage container comprises a portable storage container (PSC).

3. The apparatus of claim 2, further comprising the PSC, the PSC having an aperture to provide access to the PSC, the lid coupled to the PSC in a manner to block access to the PSC via the aperture when in a first position and to provide access to the PSC via the aperture when in a second position.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the PSC is detachably coupled to the lid.

5. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the PSC is capable of maintaining therein, for a period of time, a temperature range having a lower end and an upper end.

6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the upper end of the temperature range is less than ambient temperature.

7. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the lower end of the temperature range is greater than ambient temperature.

8. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the PSC comprises a food and/or beverage storage container.

9. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the PSC is a cooler.

10. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the PSC is a refrigerated container.

11. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the PSC comprises as least one wall that is insulated.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein an exterior surface of the wall is insulated.

13. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein an interior surface of the wall is insulated.

14. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the wall comprises an interior surface, an exterior surface, and a compartment therebetween providing an insulating property.

15. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein the compartment is at least partially filled with a substance that provides the insulating property.

16. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the substance comprises a combination of one or more of a gas, liquid or solid.

17. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the PSC is a tackle box.

18. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the PSC is a tool box.

19. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the PFD substantially complies with a government regulation for a throwable PFD (TPFD).

20. The apparatus of claim 19, wherein the government regulation is a United States Coast Guard (USCG) regulation.

21. The apparatus of claim 20, wherein the USCG regulation is for a Type four (IV) PFD.

22. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein PFD is selected from one of the devices in the group consisting of a cushion, buoy, ring buoy, and horseshoe buoy.

23. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the PFD is detachably coupled to the lid by way of one or more of the following means: strap, buckle, clip, tie down, button, snap, hook and loop fastener, fabric hook and loop fastener, recessed hold, compression, and compartment, magnets, magnetic strips.

24. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the lid comprises at least one storage compartment.

25. The apparatus of claim 24, the storage compartment to store a first aid or emergency kit.

26. The apparatus of claim 24, the storage compartment to store the PFD.

27. The apparatus of claim 24, wherein the storage compartment to store one or more items selected from items in the group consisting of a bandage, adhesive bandage, visual distress signal device, flag, reflector, flare, flare gun, sound producing device, whistle, emergency horn, navigation aid, radio equipment, throw bag, light, flashlight, batteries, breathing resuscitation apparatus, cardiopulmonary resuscitation apparatus, defibrillator machine, first aid documentation, safety documentation, boat operation documentation, rope, water filter, insect/animal repellant, sunscreen lotion/spray, knife, blanket, tarpaulin, and dry bag.

28. The apparatus of claim 24, wherein the storage compartment and/or an item stored therein are protected by a dry bag.

29. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising attachment means to attach the lid to the storage container.

30. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the attachment means comprises one or more hinges, clamps, buckles, straps, clips, tie downs, buttons, snaps, hook and loop fasteners, fabric hook and loop fasteners, recessed hold, compression, magnets, magnetic strips.

31. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the PFD is inherently buoyant.

32. The apparatus of claim 31, wherein the PFD comprises a fabric shell surrounding primarily foam.

33. The apparatus of claim 32, wherein the shell is made of primarily nylon.

34. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the PFD is at least in part inflatable and/or at least in part made of foam.

35. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the PFD is automatically and/or manually inflatable.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

The field of invention relates generally to flotation devices. In particular, the invention relates to combining a flotation device with a lid for a storage container.

BACKGROUND

A United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved Type IV “throwable” personal flotation device (TPFD or “throwable device”) is required by law in most States to be on board, and immediately available for use on, a boat 16 feet in length or longer. A Type IV or throwable device covers a wide range of PFDs designed to be thrown to a person overboard. These devices must have a certain inherent buoyancy, for example, a buoyancy of 16.5 pounds for rings or 18 pounds for cushions to be Coast Guard approved.

When a person falls overboard and is not wearing or does not have access to a personal flotation device, a throwable personal flotation device, such as a cushion (sometimes referred to as a utility cushion), ring buoy, or horseshoe buoy, may be thrown to the person. A throwable device is characterized in that it has opposite straps through which the person may place their arms and hold the device to their chest.

Unfortunately, is it common for a throwable device to be stowed in a location on a boat that is not readily accessible and available in an emergency. For example, the device may be stored under a seat, or in a locked or closed compartment, under the bow of a boat, or with other gear stowed on top of it. What is needed is a way to ensure the throwable device is readily accessible in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, it would be advantageous to have a throwable device readily available when near water, for example, when located on a stream bank, lake or ocean beach or dock, or otherwise near a body of water.

SUMMARY

A throwable personal flotation device may be attached to a lid of a storage container, for example, a portable cooler, where it is readily available, quickly detachable and, can be thrown to a person in a body of water

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A better understanding of the present invention can be obtained from the following detailed description in conjunction with the following drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, in one embodiment of the invention, a lid 100 is attachable to a storage container, the lid capable of having at least one throwable personal flotation device (TPFD) 105 attached thereto. The TPFD may be quickly detached from the lid, for example, by pulling on strap 110, in the event of an emergency such as a person in a body of water that needs a flotation device.

The TPFD may, in one embodiment of the invention, comply with the United States Coast Guard regulation for a Type IV personal flotation device, and may be either a cushion, for example, a seat or utility cushion, or a buoy, for example, a ring buoy or a horseshoe buoy. In one embodiment, the TPFD is inherently buoyant, for example, made primarily of foam, and may be fitted with a shell, for example, a nylon fabric shell. In an alternative embodiment, the TPFD may be at least in part inflatable, for example, either manually or automatically inflatable with a gas such as air, carbon dioxide, etc., and/or at least partly made of foam.

In one embodiment of the invention, the storage container is a portable storage container such as a common food/beverage cooler, or ice chest, and the lid 100 may be either manufactured and/or sold separately from the container, as a replacement lid, or the lid may be the original lid manufactured and sold with the container in accordance with the invention. In an alternative embodiment of the invention, an original manufacturer's lid may simply be modified by the owner to provide for the ability to attach and quickly detach a TPFD thereto. In any case, the TPFD may or may not be sold with the TPFD attachable-lid, and/or the lid not necessarily manufactured to accommodate a particular type or style of TPFD, so long as the lid can accommodate, or be modified to accommodate attaching and detaching the TPFD.

In one embodiment of the invention, the original lid is removed from the storage container and the TPFD attachable-lid 100 is fastened to a container, for example, using a pair of original or replacement hinges 115a, 115b. FIG. 1 illustrates a top-view of the lid 100, to which is attached a TPFD 105. The means for attaching the TPFD is not shown, and can encompass any number of different means for attaching the TPFD to the lid, as discussed more fully below. As an example, the TPFD may be attached to the lid using a fabric hook and loop fastener system. In one embodiment of the invention, the use of a Velcro® brand fabric hook and loop system, available from Velcro Industries, B.V. is contemplated.

Moreover, while FIG. 1 illustrates a single TPFD coupled to the lid 100, in combination with a storage compartment 120 for housing, for example, a first aid kit, in another embodiment of the invention, two or more TPFDs may be affixed to the lid, depending on the shape and size of both the TPFDs and the lid. For example, a rectangular lid for a large cooler may be designed to detachably couple two TPFDs side by side, with or without a storage compartment 120.

FIG. 2 illustrates a bottom view of the lid 100. As an option, legs 220a, 220b may be movably coupled at one end to the lid so that when the lid is coupled to the storage container and placed in a open position of less than 90 degrees to horizontal to provide access to the storage container, the legs may be pivoted at the point where they attached to the lid so that the other ends of the legs are drawn down and positioned on a rim of the storage container to support the lid in an open position. In an alternative embodiment, the legs are affixed at one end to the lid and at the other end to the storage container, and telescope (for example, using pneumatics or hydraulics), and/or employ a ratcheting or locking mechanism, to maintain the lid in an open position. In an alternative embodiment, straps (not shown) may be coupled at one point to the lid and at another point to the storage container so that when the lid is placed in an open position greater than 90 degrees to horizontal, the straps hold the lid in an open and substantially upright position.

In an alternative embodiment, lid 100 is simply sized to fit snug or snap fit to an aperture or opening of the storage container, and no hardware such as hinges, etc., is needed to affix the lid to the storage container.

While the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1 contemplates attaching a substantially square utility cushion-type TPFD to a rectangular lid, both the TPFD and the lid may be a different size and shape. For example, the lid may be circular to accommodate a round storage container, and the TPFD a typical ring-shaped buoy with straps and/or rope. Moreover, the geometry and dimensions of the TPFD need not necessarily correspond to that of the storage container. For example, it is conceivable that a ring buoy may be affixed to lid 100 in substantially the same manner as described herein for the square cushion-shaped TPFD 105.

The TPFD 105 is detachably coupled to the lid in one embodiment of the invention by way of, for example, one or more straps, buckles, clips, tie downs, buttons, snaps, hook and loop fasteners, fabric hook and loop fasteners, recessed hold, compression means, and compartment. For example, one or strips of fabric hooks may be applied to the TPFD using an adhesive applied to one side of the strips. A corresponding one or more strips of fabric loops may be applied to the top of the lid using a similar adhesive in such as way as to allow for alignment of the strip(s) of fabric hook of on the TPFD with the strips of fabric loops on the lid. The TPFD is then placed on the lid, securing the TPFD while at the same time allowing the TPFD to be quickly removed if need be by pulling on the TPFD or one or more straps 110 attached to the TPFD.

In another embodiment of the invention, the lid is formed or molded in such a manner as to provide a recessed hold in the top of the lid in which to set the TPFD. The lid may form a well of sufficient depth and size, and with raised sides of sufficient height, to conform to and surround the sides of the TPFD so that the TPFD is placed in and cradled by the lid. The TPFD can readily be removed by pulling on one or more of straps 110.

In yet another embodiment, one or more straps may be affixed to the lid, for example a nylon strap may be affixed to one edge of the lid and another nylon strap affixed to the other edge of the lid. Both straps may be affixed to the lid, for example, using one or more rivets, and include a buckle at one end that mates with a corresponding buckle on a TPFD. The TPFD may have a one or more straps affixed thereto, for example, sewn into a nylon shell of the TPFD, and to which the corresponding buckles are attached. When the TPFD is placed on the lid, the buckles on the TPFD align with and couple to the buckles on the lid, thereby securing the TPFD to the lid. The TPFD is simply unbuckled when needed and thrown as may be necessary.

In one more described embodiment, one or more magnetic strips may be fixed to the lid, either using an adhesive, of if the lid exhibits magnetic properties, by simply placing the magnetic strip on the lid. A corresponding magnetic strip may be affixed to the TPFD, for example, the magnetic strip may be inserted into a shell surrounding the TPFD, or a sleeve in the shell. The TPFD is placed on the lid so that the corresponding magnetic strip(s) affixed to the TPFD aligns with the magnetic strip(s) affixed to the lid, keeping the TPFD in place until sufficient force is exerted to overcome the external magnetic field force attraction between the magnetic strips to remove the TPFD from its position.

In another embodiment of the invention, the TPFD includes the female portion of one or more snaps that mate with a corresponding male portion of one or more snaps on the lid, so as to provide a means to attach to TPFD to the lid. Alternatively, the TPFD is mounted to a frame or plate, for example, by any of the above mentioned means for affixing the TPFD to the lid. The frame or plate, in turn, provides the female portion of the snaps that mate with the corresponding male portion of the snaps on the lid. Of course, it should be understood that the snaps can be reversed, so that the male portion attaches to the TPFD or associated frame or plate, and the female portion attaches to the lid.

The five examples for attaching the TPFD to the lid described above are not meant to be exhaustive of the means by which the TPFD is detachably coupled to the lid. Moreover, it should be understood that these embodiments are effective whether attaching to TPFD to the original equipment manufacturer's lid or a replacement lid. One of ordinary skill in the art can contemplate any number of ways using any one or more of the above enumerated or other fasteners available today to detachably couple the TPFD to the lid.

As mentioned above, in one embodiment of the invention, a storage container is a portable storage container, for example, a food and/or beverage cooler. However, the storage container may maintain a temperature at, below or above the ambient temperature, or a range of temperatures at, below, or above the ambient temperature. The storage container may be a refrigerated container, and may employ a power supply and refrigeration unit that draws power from the power supply to refrigerate the container. In any case, the storage container may be insulated, either by means of a insulating substance proximate to an exterior surface of a wall of the container, an interior surface of a wall of the container, or if the container is double-walled, within the space between defined by the double walls of the container. In one embodiment of the invention, the insulating substance may be comprised of a gas, such as air, a liquid, such as water, or a solid, such as rigid foam, or a combination thereof.

Alternative, the storage container, whether portable or otherwise, may be for storage of any number of items, for example the storage container may be a tool box, equipment box, or fishing tackle box.

In FIG. 1, the lid is illustrated in one embodiment of the invention as further comprising a storage compartment 120, for example, to store a first aid kit. Alternatively, the storage compartment may hold a TPFD, which can be readily accessed by opening a lid on the storage compartment. Any number of items may be stored in the storage compartment. In or near a marine environment, one or more useful items such as, but not limited to, bandages, adhesive bandages, visual distress signal device, flag, reflector, flare, flare gun, sound producing device, whistle, emergency horn, navigation aid, radio equipment, throw bag, light, flashlight, batteries, breathing resuscitation apparatus, cardiopulmonary resuscitation apparatus, defibrillator machine, first aid documentation, safety documentation, boat operation documentation, rope, water filter, insect/animal repellant, sunscreen lotion/spray, knife, blanket, tarpaulin, and dry bag, may be stored in the storage compartment. Depending on the size of the storage container and corresponding lid, the lid may comprise more than one storage compartment.

In any case, in one embodiment of the invention, the height of the storage compartment is similar to the height of the TPFD 105 when coupled to the lid, to maintain a substantially similar horizontal plane across the top surface of the storage compartment and the top surface of the TPFD. This facilitates stacking items on top the storage container, for example, when not in use, or seating on top of the storage container, for example, when in use.

Storage compartment may be lined with a “dry bag” in one embodiment, so that contents stored therein remain air tight and dry, for example, if the storage container is on a boat that takes on water or capsizes, or as may be helpful in humid, rainy or poor weather conditions.