Title:
ADJUSTABLE PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A personal flotation device with a back float adjustably connected to a front float through a shoulder strap. The front float has a shoulder strap guide that prevents the shoulder strap from falling off a top portion of the front float. Adjustment of the personal flotation device is done by pulling on the end of the shoulder strap, the end of the shoulder strap being located on the front float and thereby easy to access.



Inventors:
Wagner, Steven G. (Waterloo, CA)
Application Number:
11/745171
Publication Date:
06/26/2008
Filing Date:
05/07/2007
Assignee:
SALUS MARINE WEAR INC. (Kitchener, CA)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/102
International Classes:
B63C9/115
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SWINEHART, EDWIN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Borden Ladner, Gervais Llp Anne Kinsman (WORLD EXCHANGE PLAZA, 100 QUEEN STREET SUITE 1100, OTTAWA, ON, K1P 1J9, omitted)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An adjustable vest having a front portion and a back portion comprising: a pair of front-side adjustable shoulder straps, where each of the pair of front-side adjustable shoulder straps includes a strap guide connected to the front portion, the strap guide defining a channel; a shoulder strap in sliding engagement with the channel, the shoulder strap having a first end connected to the back portion; a buckle connected to a second end of the shoulder strap; and, a buckle strap connected to the front portion at an securing area and having a free end looped through the buckle for reducing a distance between the front portion and the back portion as the free end is pulled, the buckle being positioned on the front portion between the strap guide and the securing area.

2. The adjustable vest of claim 1, further including a side connection means connecting the front portion to the back portion.

3. The adjustable vest of claim 2, wherein the side connection means includes an adjustable side strap with a side strap buckle.

4. The adjustable vest of claim 1 wherein, the strap guide is formed in the top region of the front portion.

5. The adjustable vest of claim 1 wherein, the strap guide is formed in a middle region of the front portion.

6. The adjustable vest of claim 1 wherein, the strap guide includes a length of material secured to the front portion with a securing means, the securing means defining a width of the channel.

7. The adjustable vest of claim 6 wherein, the securing means includes stitches.

8. The adjustable vest of claim 1 wherein, the strap guide includes a length of material secured to a sleeve, the sleeve being dimensioned for defining the channel.

9. The adjustable vest of claim 1 wherein, the front portion includes a first panel and a second panel releasably securable to each other.

10. The adjustable vest of claim 9, wherein one of the pair of front-side adjustable shoulder straps is connected between the back portion and the first panel, and the other of the pair of front-side adjustable shoulder straps is connected between the back portion and the second panel.

11. The adjustable vest of claim 10 wherein, the first panel and the second panel are releasably secured to each other by at least one of a zipper and a quick release belt.

12. The adjustable vest of claim 1 wherein, the front portion and the back portion include buoyant material.

13. The vest of claim 12 wherein, the front portion or the back portion includes a padded extended side for protecting a side of the user.

14. A search and rescue personal flotation device comprising: a back float; a front float; a first front-side adjustable shoulder strap for connected to the back float and the front float, the first front-side adjustable shoulder strap having first adjustment means positioned on the front float for changing a first distance between the front float and the back float; and, a second front-side adjustable shoulder strap for connected to the back float and the front float, the second front-side adjustable shoulder strap having second adjustment means positioned on the front float for changing a second distance between the front float and the back float.

15. The search and rescue personal flotation device of claim 14, further including a side strap connecting the back float to the front float.

16. The search and rescue personal flotation device of claim 14, wherein the front float includes a first panel and a second panel releasably secured to each other.

17. The search and rescue personal flotation device of claim 14, wherein the adjustment means includes a buckle, and the first front-side adjustable shoulder strap includes a strap guide connected to the front float, the strap guide defining a channel, a shoulder strap in sliding engagement with the channel, the shoulder strap having a first end connected to the back float, the buckle being connected to a second end of the shoulder strap, and a buckle strap connected to the front float at a securing area and having a free end looped through the buckle for reducing the first distance between the front float and the back float as the free end is pulled, the buckle being positioned on the front float between the strap guide and the securing area.

18. The search and rescue personal flotation device of claim 17, wherein the second front-side adjustable shoulder strap is identically configured to the first front-side adjustable shoulder strap.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/871582, filed Dec. 22, 2006, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to personal flotation devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to personal flotation devices used in search and rescue operations.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Shore based rescues such as swift water rescues, ice water rescues and river rescues are generally the responsibility of local fire departments. Members of fire departments are usually required, under law, to put on a personal flotation device (PFD) before engaging in any rescue operation near water. However, firefighters can significantly vary in size from one another, which leads to rescue engines having to carry PFDs of different sizes to accommodate firefighters of different build and size.

In practice, rescue engines usually carry two or three sizes of PFDs in order to accommodate most, if not all, firefighters. This is a concern to fire departments since they have to insure that PFDs of different sizes are onboard vehicles at all times. It is also a concern to the firefighters themselves who have to pick the right PFD to fit them once they are at the rescue scene. Failure to have properly fitting PFDs can lead to unsuccessful rescues and can jeopardize the firefighters lives. Having to decide which PDF to wear can lead to time delays in rescue operations and jeopardize the victim's well-being.

Additionally, present, universally-fitting, PFDs can be difficult to adjust, especially by burly firefighters wearing the PFD over their work clothes/equipment. The adjusting straps are usually near the top of the back float of the PFD and can be difficult to reach. This problem is exacerbated since the user will likely be wearing gloves, which makes gripping of the straps difficult. Also, pulling on the adjustment straps will often cause bunching of work clothes in the shoulder area, thereby restricting a full range of movement. These problems are exacerbated when a burly firefighter is wearing a PFD made for a small person, or when a small firefighter is wearing a PFD made for a large person.

FIG. 1 shows a prior art PFD 20 worn by a user 22 prior to being snuggly secured to their torso. The PFD 20 includes a back float 24, a front float 26, an adjustable side-strap 28 and an adjustable shoulder strap 30. The side-strap 28 and the shoulder strap 30 include side strap buckles 32 and 34 respectively. Optionally, there can be a length of fabric (not shown) disposed over the shoulder of the firefighter 22 and under the shoulder strap 30 to improve comfort. The length of fabric attached to both the back float 24 and the front float 26.

To secure snuggly the PFD 20, the user 22 must reach over his shoulder to grab and pull the end 36 of the shoulder strap 30 with his hand 38. This can be a difficult task to accomplish in view of the usually cumbersome clothes 40 worn by the firefighter 22. Additionally, reaching to grab the end 36 results in lifting the user's clothes 40 in an area 42, just underneath the shoulder strap 30. Pulling the end 36 of the shoulder strap 30 with the clothes 40 being lifted in the area 42 usually results in either a bunching of the length of fabric (not shown) attached to the back float 24 and the front float 26, and/or a bunching of the clothes in the area 42. This can lead to discomfort and hampering of movements for the firefighter 22. Adjustment of the side-strap 28 can also be accomplished in the same way by pulling on an end (not shown) the side-strap.

FIG. 2 shows the PFD 20 snuggly secured to the firefighter 22. An additional problem is that adjustment buckles 32 and 34 are not visible to the user due to their location. Hence, the user may struggle to find the end 36. This problem is especially problematic if a PFD designed for a large person is worn by a smaller person; the position of the buckles 32 and 34 lie on the back position of the user, thereby making adjustments very cumbersome by the user. In an emergency situation, the difficulties in adjusting the PFD to fit the user may result in the user electing to make no adjustments, thereby increasing the risk of danger to the user.

It is, therefore, desirable to provide a PFD that fits all firefighters or rescue personnel, that is easy to adjust and allows a full range of movement to the firefighters.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to obviate or mitigate at least one disadvantage of previous adjustable PFDs. More specifically, it is an object of the present invention to provide a PFD with front side adjustable straps.

In a first aspect, the present invention provides an adjustable vest having a front portion and a back portion. The vest includes a pair of front-side adjustable shoulder straps, a buckle and a buckle strap. Each of the pair of front-side adjustable shoulder straps includes a strap guide connected to the front portion, the strap guide defining a channel, and a shoulder strap in sliding engagement with the channel, the shoulder strap having a first end connected to the back portion. The buckle is connected to a second end of the shoulder strap. The buckle strap is connected to the front portion at a securing area and has a free end looped through the buckle for reducing a distance between the front portion and the back portion as the free end is pulled. The buckle is positioned on the front portion between the strap guide and the securing area.

According embodiments of the present aspect, the vest further includes a side connection means connecting the front portion to the back portion, and the side connection means includes an adjustable side strap with a side strap buckle. The strap guide can be formed in the top region of the front portion, or in a middle region of the front portion. The strap guide includes a length of material secured to the front portion with a securing means, the securing means defining a width of the channel. The securing means can include stitches. Alternately, the strap guide includes a length of material secured to a sleeve, the sleeve being dimensioned for defining the channel.

In further embodiments, the front portion includes a first panel and a second panel of buoyan material releasably securable to each other. One of the pair of front-side adjustable shoulder straps is connected between the back portion and the first panel, and the other of the pair of front-side adjustable shoulder straps is connected between the back portion and the second panel. The first panel and the second panel are releasably secured to each other by at least one of a zipper and a quick release belt. The front portion or the back portion can include a padded extended side for protecting the a side of the a user.

In a second aspect, the present invention provides a search and rescue personal flotation device. The search and rescue personal flotation device includes a back float, a front float, a first front-side adjustable shoulder strap, and a second front-side adjustable shoulder strap. The first front-side adjustable shoulder strap is connected to the back float and the front float. The first front-side adjustable shoulder strap has first adjustment means positioned on the front float for changing a first distance between the front float and the back float. The second front-side adjustable shoulder strap is connected to the back float and the front float. The second front-side adjustable shoulder strap has second adjustment means positioned on the front float for changing a second distance between the front float and the back float.

According to an embodiment of the present aspect, the search and rescue personal flotation device further includes a side strap connecting the back float to the front float. The front float includes a first panel and a second panel releasably secured to each other. The adjustment means includes a buckle, and the first front-side adjustable shoulder strap includes a strap guide, a shoulder strap, and a buckle strap. The strap guide is connected to the front float, and defines a channel. The shoulder strap is in sliding engagement with the channel, and has a first end connected to the back float. The buckle is connected to a second end of the shoulder strap. The buckle strap is connected to the front float at securing area and has a free end looped through the buckle for reducing the first distance between the front float and the back float as the free end is pulled. The buckle is positioned on the front float between the strap guide and the securing area. The second front-side adjustable shoulder strap is identically configured to the first front-side adjustable shoulder strap.

Other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art upon review of the following description of specific embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the attached Figures, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a side view of a prior art PFD;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the PFD of FIG. 2 after fitted adjustment;

FIG. 3 is a front view of an adjustable PFD according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a rear view of the embodiment of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a front view of a PFD showing an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a strap guide taken along line A-A in FIG. 3; and,

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of an alternate strap guide taken along line A-A in FIG. 3.

FIG. 8 is a front view of an adjustable PFD according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9a is a front view of an adjustable PFD according to yet another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9b is a front view of the adjustable PFD of FIG. 9a, showing strap structures beneath the strap pocket; and,

FIG. 10 is a enlarged view of the side strap securing arra

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Generally, the present invention provides a personal flotation device (PFD) for use by rescuers. The PFD includes front-side adjustable shoulder straps each having a length sufficient to permit the PFD to fit persons of substantially any size. Each front-side adjustable shoulder strap includes strap guides located in the top region of the PFD's front float to prevent the shoulder straps from falling off the front floats and thereby allow a comfortable fit without the rescuer having to rearrange his clothes once the PFD has been snuggly fitted to his torso. Adjustment of the strap length is facilitated by having the adjustment buckles located on the front surface of the front floats.

Although the following discussion is centered around the theme of water rescue, a worker skilled in the art will understand that the PFD of the present invention can also be used in water sport and recreation activities. Further, the present invention can be used in any type of vest or harness with adjustable shoulder straps. Examples of such vests and harnesses include military protective vests and construction worker harnesses. For the purpose of this description, the terms user, rescuer and firefighter are synonymous.

FIG. 3 shows a front view of an embodiment of a PFD 44 of the present invention and FIG. 4 shows a back view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 3. The PFD 44 includes two front float panels 46 and 48 (referred to simply as panels from this point forward) releasably attachable to each other though a zipper 50 or through any other suitable means. The front panels 46 and 48 each include a skirt channel 52 attached to the front panel through any suitable means. An adjustable bottom strap 54 is attached to the back float 56, runs through the skirt channels 52, and is joined at its ends 58 by a buckle 60.

The front panels 46 and 48 can be made of any suitable buoyant material. The buoyant material of the front panels 46 and 48 can be a conforming buoyant material conforming to the torso of the user.

The PFD 44 can include extended sides 62 and 64 that serve to protect the ribs of the rescuer. This feature is desirable in situations where a rescue attempt is made in swift waters where the rescuer may be bounced around considerably or in ice water rescues where the rescuer needs to crawl towards the victim. Although the extended sides 62 and 64 are shown as being formed on the front panels 46 and 48 respectively, they can be formed on the back float 56.

The PFD includes a pair of front-side adjustable shoulder straps. One front-side adjustable shoulder strap includes a shoulder strap 66, a strap guide 82, a buckle 70 and a buckle strap 72. The other front-side adjustable shoulder strap includes a shoulder strap 68, a strap guide 84, a buckle 76 and a buckle strap 78. The shoulder strap 66 attaches to the front panel 46 through a buckle 70, which is connected to the front panel 46 through a buckle strap 72 fixedly attached to the front panel 46 through any securing area such as stitching 74. Example of buckles that can be used as the buckle 70 is that of ladderlocâ„¢ buckles supplied by ITW Nexus of Des Plaines Ill. Any other suitable type of buckle, can be used (for example, a quick release adjustable buckle), and the operating principle of such buckles should be well known in the art. For example, by having the buckle strap looped through the buckle, pulling on the free end of the buckle strap will draw the shoulder strap end connected to the buckle towards the securing area. A significant advantage of the present invention lies in the positioning of buckles 70 and 76 on the front surface of the front panels 46 and 48. Because buckles 70 and 76, and more importantly free ends 88 and 90, are located between the strap guides 82/84 and the securing areas 74/80, they can be easily seen and reached by the user.

The shoulder straps 66 and 68 can be attached to the rear float 56 through any suitable means such as, for example, a stitching similar to the stitching 74. The shoulder strap 68 is attached to the front panel 48 though a buckle 76, which is connected to the front panel 48 through a buckle strap 78 fixedly attached to the front panel 48 through any suitable means such as by a stitching 80. The length of the shoulder straps 66 and 68 is fixed, and selected to be a length such that the PFD 44 can fit users of substantially any build/size.

At the top region of the front panels 46 and 48 are strap guides 82 and 84 respectively. The straps guides 82 and 84 can be made of any suitable material and are fixed to their respective front panels 46 and 48, and include a channel to allow their respective shoulder strap 66 and 68 to move along the direction of their respective length. As shown in the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 3, the direction in question is, in this case, substantially parallel to the zipper 50. The strap guides 82 and 84 located at the top region of the front panels 46 and 48 ensure that their respective shoulder straps 66 and 68 do not slide off their respective front panels, particularly when the PFD 44 is secured to the user.

FIG. 5 shows an embodiment of the PFD of FIG. 3 with front-side adjustable shoulder straps having an alternate strap guide position. In the presently shown embodiment, strap guides 86 and 87 are still located on the front panels 46 and 48, but placed at a lower position than strap guides 82 and 84 of FIG. 3. More specifically, strap guides 82 and 84 of FIG. 3 are placed at the top-most position of panels 46 and 48, while strap guides 86 and 87 are more centrally positioned on panels 46 and 48.

Additionally, stitchings 83 can be used to stitch the strap guides 82 and 84 to the front panels 46 and 48 respectively, thereby defining channels 85 for the shoulder straps 66 and 68 to slide through. The channels 85 can also be formed by any other suitable means such as, for example, forming the channels 85 directly on the strap guides 82 and 84 by stitching opposite ends of a length of fabric (not shown) directly to the strap guides 82 and 85. Alternatively, the strap guides 82 and 84 can be formed by any other suitable means, such as, for example, loops made of plastic material, attached to the front float.

After a user dons the PFD 44, zips up the zipper 50 and adjusts the bottom strap 54, he can adjust the fit of the PFD 44 by pulling on the ends 88 and 90 of the respective buckle straps 72 and 78. More specifically, by pulling on ends 88 and 90, the distance between the front panels 46/48 and the back float 56 is reduced, thereby positioning the front panels 46/48 and the back float 56 tightly against the torso of the user. Since the ends 88 and 90 are located at the front of the PFD 44, the user is not required to reach back to adjust the PFD. Avoiding to reach back also greatly diminishes bunching of the users clothes in the users shoulder area and expedites preparation for rescue. As will be understood by a worker skilled in the art, the order of the steps taken by the user to secure the PFD 44 to his body need not be exactly as described above.

Also shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 are intermediate straps 92 and 94, also known as side straps, respectively connecting the front panel 46 and the front panel 48 to the back float 56. The intermediate straps 92 and 94 can be adjustable through any suitable adjusting means including, for example, elastic materials and/or buckle adjustment. The intermediate straps 92 and 94 are for further securing the PFD to the user. As will be understood by the skilled worker, strap guides similar to strap guides 82 and 84 can also be used with the intermediate straps 92 and 94.

Alternatively, or in addition to the intermediate straps connecting the front panels 46 and 48 to the back float 56, the extended sides 62 and 64 of the front panels 46 and 48 can be directly secured to the back float 56 through any suitable means such as, for example, stitching or sewing.

The PFD 44 can include loops 96 formed by a length of material 98 secured to the front panels 46 and 48 through any suitable means such as, for example, stitching and sewing. The loops can be for multiple usages such as, for example, securing a tow line (not shown) to the user. The loops can also be used to hold a quick release belt (not shown) for securing the PFD 44 to the user without having to zip the zipper 50.

The PFD 44 can also include any number of pockets such as pocket 100. The pocket 100 can be made of any suitable material such as, for example, mesh material. The pocket 100 can also include one or more zipper (not shown) to facilitate access to the pocket 100 by the right or left hand of the user.

The PFD 44 can include attaching areas 102 secured to the PFD through any suitable means such as, for example stitching and sewing. The attaching areas can be used to attach rescue objects to the PFD 44, such objects including, for example, a flashlight, a knife, a whistle etc. The attaching areas 102 can be located anywhere on the front of PFD 44.

As will be understood by the skilled worker, all the materials used in the fabrication of the PFD 44 can include highly reflective material to facilitate the visual identification of users. Also, the PDF need not have two separate front panels 46 and 48. It can consist of only one large front float instead of two separate panels. In this case, a user would don the PFD by pulling it over his head. Further, all the straps used in the PFD 44 can be wide enough such that a worker wearing hand protection can still easily handle the straps without removing the hand protection.

As shown in FIG. 4, a back float skirt 104 is secured to the back float 56 through any suitable means. The back float skirt 104 includes a channel to guide the bottom strap 54. Alternatively, the bottom strap 54 can be fixedly secured to the back float skirt 104. In the case where no back float skirt is formed, the back strap 54 can be fixedly secured to the back float 56 through any suitable means. The back float 56 can also include a loop 106 for hooking to rescue objects such, for example, a glow stick used to spot users in dark surroundings.

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of strap guides 82 and 86 (or 84 and 87) taken along line A-A in FIG. 3. Strap guide 82 is a material secured to the surface of front panel 46 with stitches 100. The channel 85 is defined by stitching 83, the extra material of strap guide 82 which surrounds the sides and upper part of shoulder strap 66, and the surface of front panel 46 underneath shoulder strap 66.

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view of an alternate strap guide taken along line A-A in FIG. 3. In the present embodiment, the channel 85 is self-contained within strap guide 82. As in the embodiment of FIG. 6, strap guide 82 is a material secured to the surface of front panel 46 with stitches 100. The channel is now defined by a pre-fabricated sleeve 102 secured to strap guide 82. Those skilled in the art will understand that there are known techniques for constructing sleeve 102.

While the previously disclosed strap guides are but two possible configurations, any configuration with any type of material can be used for achieving the same result, that is, to guide the shoulder strap 66.

The presently described embodiments of the front-side adjustable shoulder strap facilitates adjustment of the PFD. The same principles can be applied to the adjustable side-strap 28 shown in FIG. 1. As shown in FIG. 1, the location of the side strap buckles 32 and 34 make adjustment by a user cumbersome. Therefore, side strap guides can be attached to the front of float panels 46 and 48.

FIG. 8 is an alternate embodiment of the PFD 44 shown in FIG. 3. PFD 44 now has a side strap guide 200 and a side strap 202. Side strap 202 is connected to the rear float and to a buckle strap 204 via buckle 206. The construction and configuration of the side strap guide 200, side strap 202, buckle strap 204 and buckle 206 can be the same as the corresponding components for the adjustable shoulder strap shown in the previous embodiments. Accordingly, the principle of operation is the same, as a user can grip the free end of the buckle strap 204 now located on the front of the PFD for adjusting the fit. It is noted that FIG. 8 does not show the second side strap, however those skilled in the art will understand that another set of adjustable side strap components would be attached to the other float.

FIG. 9a is an illustration of fully adjustable PFD 300, using the previously described adjustable strap embodiments of the present invention. PFD 300 includes a front float 302 and a back float (not shown) having substantially the same shape as front float 302. Attached to the front surface of front float 302 is a strap pocket 304, which forms a cavity between it and the front surface of the front float 302. Formed within the strap pocket 304 are four strap tunnels 306. The top two strap tunnels 306 receive shoulder straps 308 while the left and right strap tunnels 306 receive side straps 310. In the present embodiment, the strap tunnels 306 are reinforced with binding, and function as strap guides. All buckles are contained within the pocket of strap pocket 304. A zipper 312 is provided to permit the user to access the buckles and buckle straps in the pocket. The main difference between the previously shown embodiments and the presently shown embodiment of FIG. 9a is that the strap guides are provided by the strap tunnels 306 of the strap pocket 304.

FIG. 9b is an exposed view of the components underneath the strap pocket 304 shown in FIG. 9a. As shown in FIG. 9b, buckles 320 couple the shoulder straps 308 and 310 to buckle straps secured to the front float 302. The buckle straps 321 are secured at a stitch zone 322. Hence, a user can quickly make adjustments after donning the PFD by pulling on the free ends of the buckle straps 321.

FIG. 10 is an illustration showing a unique buckle strap, according to an embodiment of the present invention. This is the arrangement used in the PFD 300 shown in FIGS. 9a and 9b. There is one unitary strap 321 having both its ends looped through the two buckles 320. In this configuration, only a single stitch area 330 is required, however a stitch area is not required as one end of the unitary strap 321 is self-anchoring to the other end, which are coupled to the side straps 310. Furthermore, the strap tunnels ensure no vertical movement of the side straps 310. According to a further embodiment, side straps 310 is a unitary strap that is not attached to the rear float of the PFD. More specifically, the back float can include a strap pocket similar to strap pocket 304 having strap tunnels for receiving the side straps 310. The unitary side strap is threaded through the strap tunnels of the rear strap pocket.

The present invention thus provides a PFD for use by users. The PFD's shoulder strap arrangement is such that the length of the shoulder straps allows the PFD to fit users of substantially any build/size. Strap guides located in the top region of the PFD's front panels prevent the shoulder straps from falling off the front panels and thereby allow a comfortable fit without the user having to rearrange his clothes once the PFD has been snuggly fitted to his torso.

Although the above discussion was centered around the theme of water rescue, a worker skilled in the art will understand that the PFD of the present invention can also be used in water sport and recreation activities. Additionally, the present invention can be used in areas not necessarily related to aquatic activities. In fact, the present invention can be used in any type of vest or harness with adjustable shoulder straps. Examples of such vests and harnesses include military protective vests and construction worker harnesses.

The above-described embodiments of the present invention are intended to be examples only. Alterations, modifications and variations may be effected to the particular embodiments by those of skill in the art without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined solely by the claims appended hereto.