Title:
Article retainer and retriever
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An article retainer device that prevents various objects, dropped by children or others that may have difficulty holding onto objects, such as the elderly or disabled, from falling to the floor and assists the parent or caretaker in retrieving the fallen object. The flexible main strap of the article retainer is secured to the child's object while its other end is secured to a stable surface. A flexible retrieval strap is attached to the main strap. The length of the main strap can be adjusted ensure that the child's object does not fall to the floor when dropped. A parent or caretaker can retrieve a fallen object by taking hold of retrieval strap and pulling on the strap to raise the child's object up or pull the object towards him or her.



Inventors:
Hays, Stephanie (Spicewood, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/938732
Publication Date:
03/16/2006
Filing Date:
09/10/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C13/00; E04G3/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080251659FOLDING STAND FOR LAPTOP COMPUTERS OR OTHER DEVICESOctober, 2008Matias
20080164384Wire Rack for Mounting an Iron on a WallJuly, 2008Rosen
20080011906CONNECTING STRUCTURE AND METHOD THEREOFJanuary, 2008Lin et al.
20030025053Small personal items hook for slotted panel/wall standardsFebruary, 2003Mckeon
20070170333Ceiling caddyJuly, 2007Moreno
20050040308Multi-piece nestable equipment baseFebruary, 2005Sweeney et al.
20070040083Bracket for a fluorescent light fixtureFebruary, 2007Mcaloon
20050263670Methods and apparatus for buttress stabilization and embedded illumination meansDecember, 2005Pasto
20060208149Post mounting devicesSeptember, 2006Hall et al.
20040035992Rock-anchoring devices with non-metal componentsFebruary, 2004Watts
20090165319Key hole double headed screw and short hole locatorJuly, 2009Gallien



Primary Examiner:
KING, ANITA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAW OFFICE OF STEVEN B. LEAVITT, L.L.P. (Rockwall, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An article retainer device for preventing an object from falling from a raised surface, comprising: a main strap for removably securing said object and for preventing said object from falling from the raised surface to a lower surface; and a retrieval strap, removably and repositionably attached to said main strap and extending outward there from, for retrieval of an object dislocated from an area about the raised surface.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein said main strap comprises: a strip of flexible material having a first end and a second end; a connector for removably attaching said main strap to a stable surface; a first plurality of hooks affixed near said first end of said strip of flexible material; a second plurality of hooks affixed near said second end of said strip of flexible material; and a strip of material, having a plurality of loops affixed to said strip of flexible material and situated between said first and second pieces of material, for engaging the hooks of said first piece of material so as to allow said object to be removably secured to said main strap by forming a loop of adjustable size around or through a portion of said object and for engaging the hooks of said second piece of material so as to allow said connector to be removably secured to said main strap by forming a loop of adjustable size around or through a portion of said connector.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein said retrieval strap comprises: a strip of flexible material having a first end and a second end; a connector for removably and repositionably attaching said retrieval strap to said main strap; a first piece of material having a plurality of hooks attached near the first end of said strip of flexible material; and a strip of material, having a plurality of loops attached to said strip of flexible material and situated between said first piece of material and the second end of said strip of flexible material, for engaging the hooks of said first piece of material so as to allow said connector to be removably secured to said retrieval strap by forming a loop of adjustable size around or through a portion of said connector.

4. A method for preventing an object held by a child from falling to the floor while assisting a parent or caretaker in retrieving a fallen object, comprising: securing said object to a main strap having a first and second end, a first and second piece of material having a plurality of hooks attached to said first and second ends of said main strap (respectively), and a strip of material having a plurality of loops attached to said main strap and situated between said first and second pieces of material; attaching a retrieval strap to said main strap, said retrieval strap having a first and second end, a first piece of material having a plurality of hooks attached near said first end of said retrieval strap, a strip of material having a plurality of loops attached to said retrieval strap and situated between said first piece of material and second end of said retrieval strap, and a connector secured near first end of said retrieval strap for removably and repositionably attaching said retrieval strap to said main strap; and securing said second end of said main strap to a stable surface.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein said object is removably secured to said main strap by forming a loop of adjustable size around or through a portion of said object.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein said loop is formed at the first end of said main strap by engaging the hooks of the said first piece of material to the loops of said strip of material, both of said materials attached to said main strap.

7. The method of claim 4, wherein said connector is removably secured to said retrieval strap by forming a loop of adjustable size around or through a portion of said connector.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein said loop is formed at the first end of said retrieval strap by engaging the hooks of the said first piece of material to the loops of said strip of material, both of said materials attached to said retrieval strap.

9. The method of claim 4, wherein the securing of said second end of said main strap to a stable surface comprising: securing a connector to said second end of said main strap.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein said connector removably attaches to said stable surface.

11. The method of claim 9, wherein said connector is removably secured to said main strap by forming a loop of adjustable size around or through a portion of said connector.

12. The method of claim 9, wherein said loop is formed at the second end of said main strap by engaging the hooks of the said second piece of material to the loops of said strip of material.

13. The method of claim 4, wherein said main strap and retrieval strap are flexible strips of material.

14. An article retainer device to prevent an object from falling to the floor when dropped by an children or others that may have difficulty holding onto objects, such as the elderly or disabled, and assist a parent or caretaker in the retrieval of said object, comprising: a means for removably securing and preventing said object from falling to the floor; and a retrieval strap, removably and repositionably attached to said means for removably securing and preventing said object from falling to the floor, for enabling said parent or caretaker to retrieve fallen object.

15. The device of claim 14, wherein said means for removably securing and preventing said object from falling to the floor is a main strap.

16. The device of claim 15, wherein said strap comprises: a strip of flexible material having a first end and a second end; a connector for removably attaching said main strap to a stable surface; a first piece of material having a plurality of hooks attached near said first end of said strip of flexible material; a second piece of material having a plurality of hooks attached near the second end of said strip of flexible material; and a strip of material, having a plurality of loops attached to said strip of flexible material and situated between said first and second pieces of material, for engaging the hooks of said first piece of material so as to allow said object to be removably secured to said main strap by forming a loop of adjustable size around or through a portion of said object and for engaging the hooks of said second piece of material so as to allow said connector to be removably secured to said main strap by forming a loop of adjustable size around or through a portion of said connector.

17. The device of claim 14, wherein said retrieval strap comprises: a strip of flexible material having a first end and a second end; a connector for removably attaching said retrieval strap to said main strap; a first piece of material having a plurality of hooks attached near the first end of said strip of flexible material; and a strip of material, having a plurality of loops attached to said strip of flexible material and situated between said first piece of material and the second end of said strip of flexible material, for engaging the hooks of said first piece of material so as to allow said connector to be removably secured to said retrieval strap by forming a loop of adjustable size around or through a portion of said connector.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

This invention relates generally to a device that prevents objects dropped by children or others, such as the elderly or disabled, that may have difficulty holding onto objects, from falling to the floor and, more preferably, also assists in the retrieval of the fallen object by a parent or caretaker.

2. Description of Related Art

Many times a day, an infant or small child will often drop objects, such as a toy, a utensil, or a cup that he or she is holding or using. A parent or caretaker experiences frustration in frequently having to retrieve these objects. Further, the parent or caretaker is often compelled to clean the objects before giving it back to the child to ensure that no germs or dirt are introduced to the child when he or she subsequently handles the object or places the object into his or her mouth.

Prior devices are known to deter objects dropped by children from falling to floor or ground by assisting the child with the ability to grip the object or by designing a holder for a specific object, such as a bottle. Also, the use of straps to prevent objects from falling to the floor is known. For example, Olaiz, U.S. Pat. No. 5,702,039, discloses a strap attached to the front of a stroller that can retain various objects in a manner readily available for a child's use. More generally, carrying straps, disclosed by patents such as U.S. Pat. No. 5,044,538 to Bader and U.S. Pat. No. 5,460,308 to Hahn, can hold objects of varying sizes by forming loops that can be secured around these objects.

Henry, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,606,768, discloses a versatile strap for retaining objects comprised of a strap that can be used to hold objects of varying sizes and prevent these objects from falling to the floor when dropped by a child. One end of the strap is used to form a loop secured about the object and the other end is secured to a support structure of some kind.

However, none of the previous holders can secure various objects in order to prevent them from falling to the floor when dropped and also allow a parent or caretaker to retrieve the fallen object when he or she is not within arm's reach of the child or the child is positioned behind him or her. None of the above devices, either alone or in combination, can prevent an object dropped by an infant, small child, or disabled person from falling to the floor or ground while also aiding the parent or caretaker in retrieval of the same object. Therefore, a single device that prevents an object from falling and also allows a parent or caretaker to easily retrieve a fallen object is needed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention comprises of a main strap for removably securing and preventing an object from falling to the floor, and a retrieval strap, removably and repositionably attached to the main strap and extending outward from it, for enabling a parent or caretaker to retrieve a fallen object. The main strap may comprise of a flexible strip of material with a connector that attaches the strap to a stable surface at one end. This strap also has the ability to form a loop of adjustable size to secure an object at the other end. The retrieval strap may also comprise of a flexible strip of material with the ability to form a loop of adjustable size to secure a connector at one of its ends. This connector is used to removably attach the retrieval strap at any position along the length of the main strap.

Therefore, objects of various sizes can be secured to the main strap and the length of this strap can be adjusted to prevent these objects from falling to the floor when dropped. The primary advantage of the present invention is that the parent or caretaker, with the retrieval strap placed in a location easily accessible by him or her, can take hold of the strap and, by pulling on the strap, retrieve the fallen object by either raising the object up or pulling the object towards him or her.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The novel features believed characteristic of the invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, as well as a preferred mode of use, further objectives and advantages thereof, will be best understood by reference to the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a top, plan view of an article retainer in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment as it would be employed by a user to secure an object, shown here as a pacifier, and with a means to secure the device to a stable surface, shown here as a suction cup;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the first and second ends of the main strap shown in FIG. 2 secured about a connecting device and an object (respectively);

FIG. 4A is a front view of the main strap shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4B is a side view of the main strap shown in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 5 is a side view of the retrieval strap shown in FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIGS. 1 and 2 show a preferred embodiment of the article retainer device 10 of the present invention, which comprises of a main strap 12 and a retrieval strap 14. Retrieval strap 14 is removably and repositionably attached to main strap 12 by a connector 16.

Main strap 12, shown in a front and side view in FIGS. 4A and 4B (respectively), comprises of a flexible strip of material with a first and second end. Pieces of material 18 and 20, having a plurality of small hooks, are affixed (sewn, glued, etc.) near the first and second ends of main strap 12 (respectively). A strip of material 22, having a plurality of small loops, is centered between pieces of material 18 and 20 and affixed along the length of the main strap 12. Material 18, 20 and 22 may be that found, for example, in the hook and loop fastener system commonly marketed under the registered trademark, Velcro®. Also, other securing devices may be used in place of the hook and loop fastening system. For example, snaps or buttons (not shown) may be used to selectively control length of the main strap 12 and retrieval strap 14.

The first end of main strap 12 is secured to a connector 24, as shown in FIG. 3. Connector 24 is secured to main strap 12 by passing the first end of the strap through a ring, loop or slot on back of connector 24 and fastening the hooks of material 18 to the loops of material 22, forming a loop at the first end of main strap 12. Connector 24, preferably a suction cup (as shown in FIG. 2), can also be any other means of removably attaching main strap 12 to a stable surface such as a clamp or a clip.

An object 26 is secured to the second end of main strap 12. In FIG. 3, the object is secured to main strap 12 by passing the strap through a ring, loop or slot on object 26 and forming a loop at the second end of main strap 12. Alternatively, object 26 can be secured to main strap 12 by forming a loop around the object itself and tightening the loop snugly around it. To accommodate objects of different sizes and shapes, this loop can be varied in size by changing where the hooks of material 20 is fastened to the loops of material 22.

Varying the size of the loops formed at the ends of main strap 12 also varies the overall length of strap 12. Thereby, the user may change the length of main strap 12 to a desired and sufficient size to ensure that object 26 does not fall to the floor or ground when dropped.

Retrieval strap 14, shown in a side view in FIG. 5, comprises a flexible strip of material having a first and second end. Pieces of material 32 and 33, having a plurality of small hooks, are affixed near the first and second ends of retrieval strap 14. A strip of material 34, having a plurality of small loops, is centered between pieces of material 32 and 33 and affixed along the length of retrieval strap 14. Materials 32, 33 and 34 may be that found in the hook and loop fastener system (e.g., Velcro®).

Connector 16 is secured to the first end of retrieval strap 14. Connector 16, shown in FIG. 5 as a clamp, can also be any other known removable and repositionable connection device. Connector 16 is secured to retrieval strap 14 by passing the first end of the strap through a ring, loop or slot on connector 16 and fastening the hooks of material 32 to the loops of material 34, forming a loop at the first end of retrieval strap 14.

Alternatively, connector 16 can also be a connecting device that, while securing retrieval strap 14 to main strap 12, also allows the retrieval strap 14 to slide along the length of main strap 12.

The second end of retrieval strap 14 can be attached to a connecting device (a clamp, clip, suction cup, etc.) in order to allow this end to be secured to a stable surface. This connecting device, connector 35, is attached by passing the second end of the strap through a ring, loop or slot on the connecting device and fastening the hooks of material 33 to the loops of material 34, forming a loop at the second end of retrieval strap 14. On the other hand, this end of retrieval strap 14 can be secured to a stable object by forming a snug loop around it.

Changing where materials 32 and 33 are fastened to material 34 can vary the size of the loops formed and the length of retrieval strap 14.

FIG. 2 illustrates main strap 12 of the present invention removably secured to a stable surface 28 by connector 24. Object 26, shown here as a pacifier, is secured to the second end of main strap 12. Retrieval strap 14 is shown attached to main strap 12 by connector 16 and is variably positioned along the length of main strap 12. Once the length of retrieval strap 14 is adjusted by varying the size of the loop formed at its first end (used to secure connector 16 to retrieval strap 14), and, if needed, its second end is secured to a stable surface (using connector 35) or object near a parent 30 or caretaker, parent 30 or caretaker can place retrieval strap 14 in a location easily accessible to him or her. If an object is dropped, parent 30 or caretaker can retrieve the fallen object by taking hold of retrieval strap 14, as shown in FIG. 2, and pull on the strap to raise object 26 up or pull the object toward him or her.

A common situation where the present invention can be employed occurs when a child, secured in a safety restraint device such as a car seat in back seat of an automobile, drops an object. The first end of main strap 12 is secured to the child's object, object 26; the second is secured to a stable surface, such as a window, using connector 24. Parent 30 or caretaker in the front seat can secure retrieval strap 14 (removably and repositionably attached to main strap 12) in a location easily within his or her grasp. When the child drops object 26, and parent 30 or caretaker is alerted of this, rather than attempting to reach back and feel for the fallen object to retrieve it, parent 30 or caretaker can pull on retrieval strap 14 to lift the object 26 up towards him or her, or put object 26 in a position where the child can regain a hold on the object.

While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to a preferred embodiment, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.