Title:
Dive mask safety strap
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dive mask safety strap prevents the displacement or loss of a mask while diving into the water or at other times of vigorous activity while diving. Loss of a mask can subject the diver to danger, especially while in turbulent or murky waters, or in enclosed underwater places. The safety strap extends from one side of the dive mask to the other and is tightened under the user's chin, thereby preventing upward displacement and loss of the mask In addition, the strap extends around the user's neck to provide additional protection against mask displacement. The safety strap is contained to the diver's head and neck area and does not require attachment to an article of clothing.



Inventors:
Orem, Vicky L. (Mitchellville, MD, US)
Jones, Albert Jose (Washington, DC, US)
Application Number:
11/145711
Publication Date:
12/07/2006
Filing Date:
06/06/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
128/201.27, 128/202.27, 128/207.11
International Classes:
B63C11/16; B63C11/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PATEL, NIHIR B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
William S. Ramsey (Columbia, MD, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A safety strap and a dive mask comprising: in combination, a dive mask and a flexible lanyard having a first and a second end, safety lock having a first and a second end, the safety lock adjustably attached by a latching mechanism to the lanyard at each end of the safety lock forming an upper loop and a lower loop in the lanyard, and a keeper at the bottom of the lower loop which adjusts the size of the lower loop, the lanyard removably attached by the lanyard ends to the dive mask or the mask strap at each side of the front of the mask.

2. The safety strap of claim 1 wherein the lanyard is removably attached to the dive mask or the mask retainer strap by a loop which is adjusted by a slider and secured by an adjustable stop.

3. The safety strap of claim 1 wherein the lanyard is removably attached to the dive mask or the mask retainer strap by a loop which is formed using a snap or a hook.

4. The safety strap of claim 1 wherein the safety lock is fabric.

5. The safety strap of claim 4 wherein the safety lock is a unitary strap having hook and loop fasteners on the strap surface.

6. The safety strap of claim 1 wherein the safety lock is comprised of two interacting elements each of which is movably secured to the lanyard.

7. The safety strap of claim 1 wherein the keeper is a barrel stopper.

8. A safety strap and a dive mask comprising: in combination, a dive mask and flexible lanyard means for securing the dive mask against accidental displacement, safety lock means for forming an upper loop in the lanyard for surrounding the user's face and a lower loop in the lanyard for surrounding the user's neck, and keeper means at the bottom of the lower loop for adjusting the size of the lower loop, and attachment means for removably attaching the lanyard to the dive mask or the mask strap at each side of the front of the mask.

9. The process of using a diving mask safety strap comprising the steps: a. attaching a safety strap lanyard to the diving mask strap, b. mounting the dive mask in place over the user's eyes, c. looping the lanyard around the back of the user's neck, d. securing the lanyard sides with a safety lock, forming an upper loop surrounding the user's face and a lower loop surrounding the user's neck, and e. adjusting the size of the lower loop with a keeper, the keeper located at the bottom of the lower loop.

10. A safety strap for a dive mask comprising: a flexible lanyard having a first and a second end, safety lock having a first and a second end, the safety lock adjustably attached by a latching mechanism to the lanyard at each end of the safety lock forming an upper loop and a lower loop in the lanyard, and a keeper at the bottom of the lower loop which adjusts the size of the lower loop, the lanyard removably attached by the lanyard ends to the dive mask or the mask strap at each side of the front of the mask wherein the safety lock is fabric and the safety lock is a unitary strap having hook and loop fasteners on the strap surface.

11. A safety strap for a dive mask comprising: a flexible lanyard having a first and a second end, safety lock having a first and a second end, the safety lock adjustably attached by a latching mechanism to the lanyard at each end of the safety lock forming an upper loop and a lower loop in the lanyard, and a keeper at the bottom of the lower loop which adjusts the size of the lower loop, the lanyard removably attached by the lanyard ends to the dive mask or the mask strap at each side of the front of the mask and the safety lock is comprised of two interacting elements each of which is movably secured to the lanyard.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

REFERENCE TO A “MICROFICHE APPENDIX”

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention pertains to dive masks or goggles and methods for preventing loss, especially loss while entering the water.

2. Description of Related Art Including Information Disclosed Under 37 Cfr 1.97 and 37 Cfr 1.98.

Since the human eye functions effectively only when in an air environment, underwater viewing requires a dive mask which allows the diver to view the underwater milieu through a glass lens while the diver's eyes are bathed in air.

Displacement or loss of a diving mask subjects a SCUBA or snorkel diver to an emergency. Displacement of the mask up from the face and over the head is the most common cause of loss of a dive mask. The risk of displacement is especially high when the diver enters the water, but is always present, particularly when the diver is manually manipulating objects under the water or the diver's attention is otherwise diverted. If fully displaced from the diver's face, the mask must quickly be located and replaced or the diver must resurface immediately. The difficulties of the situation are multiplied when the diver is inexperienced, in murky or turbulent water, or in an enclosed area, such as a shipwreck or underwater cavern. The present invention is a simple, inexpensive device which prevents displacement or loss of the diving mask.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,680,556 discloses a diving helmet with a dive mask and an elastomeric spider with five projecting legs which attach to the circumference of the dive mask and secure the helmet to the head of the diver.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,978,210 discloses a retainer for eyeware having an elastomeric strap ring which encloses the user's neck, a strap member which connects the ring to a head strap attached to the eyeglasses. The retainer prevents loss of eyeware during athletic activities such as surfing, skiing, kayaking and the like.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,886,839 discloses a toy periscope which allows simultaneous viewing underwater and above the water by a person swimming at the water surface. The periscope is attached to the swimmer's mask by guiding grooves and locking slips.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,416,199 discloses a diving mask with a light mounted on the top of the front of the mask and an electrical battery wire which runs from the mask to a battery pack attached to an item of apparel worn by the diver.

U.S. Pub. Pat. Applic. No. 2002/0124299 discloses a secure fastener for attaching a mask to a diver's hood when a hood which covers the diver's entire head except for the face is used. The fastener includes a strap at the back of the diver's head and a latch and post assembly attaching the strap to mask straps, which allows raising the mask without fear of displacement of the mask from the diver's head. In other embodiments the strap at the back of the diver's head is retained by a loose and untrained or coiled tether to a neck strap, or to a hose. In another embodiment the strap at the back of the diver's head is retained to the hood by a hook and loop fastener.

U.S. Pub. Pat. Applic. No. 2002/0122914 discloses a cord eyeglass retainer with a slid able bead by which the length of the retainer may be increased or decreased. The end fastener which attaches the retainer to the eyeglass temple at either end of the retainer is comprised of two perpendicular tubes, one of which receives the temple and the other of which receives the end of the retainer cord. The retainer encircles the user's head and secures the eyeglasses to the head of the user while in use.

None of the discovered prior art provides the advantages or discloses the present invention. The safety strap is a simple and inexpensive solution to the problem of loss of a diving mask. It may be used by the neophyte and experienced diver, does not interfere with or restrict the diver's accustomed motions, and does not require attachment to the diver's clothing.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the safety strap for a dive mask comprise a flexible lanyard having a first and a second end and a safety lock having a first and a second end. The safety lock is adjustably attached by a latching mechanism to the lanyard at each end of the safety lock forming an upper loop and a lower loop in the lanyard. A keeper at the bottom of the lower loop adjusts the size of the lower loop. The lanyard is removably attached by the lanyard ends to the dive mask or the mask strap at each side of the front of the mask.

An objective of embodiments of this invention is to prevent displacement or loss of a dive mask.

Another objective of embodiments of this invention is to provide a safety strap for a dive mask which does not depend on attachment to an article of the user's clothing.

Another objective of embodiments of this invention is to increase the safety of SCUBA and snorkel divers by preventing accidental displacement or loss of a dive mask.

Another objective of embodiments of this invention is to provide a dive mask safety strap with a soft flexible safety lock which is easily adjustable.

Another objective of embodiments of this invention is to provide a safety strap with a safety lock which is easily adjustable.

Another objective of embodiments of this invention is to provide a safety strap with a unitary lanyard.

A final objective of embodiments of this invention is to provide a safety strap for a dive mask which can be manufactured easily, from inexpensive materials, and without adverse effect on the environment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing the first embodiment safety strap in use by a SCUBA diver.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the first embodiment safety strap attached to a dive mask.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the second embodiment safety strap attached to a dive mask.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the first embodiment safety lock.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the second embodiment safety lock.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

The safety strap embodiments of this invention are designed to prevent what is perhaps the most frightening experience of a novice diver, the loss of a dive or face mask. Dive masks are put on by pulling the mask down and forward over the user's head. They are displaced in the reverse direction, by moving upward past the user's forehead and over the top of the user's head. There also is risk of loss of a mask through failure of the mask securing strap or latching mechanism. Divers are taught to hold the mask with one or both hands when jumping into the water in order to prevent mask displacement or loss.

There are two basic types of dive masks, snorkel and SCUBA masks, and swimming goggles. In this patent application, all types of masks will be termed “dive masks” or “masks.” All masks have a soft rubber seal or skirt around the perimeter of the mask which seals the mask against the diver's face. The two types differ primarily in that the snorkel and SCUBA masks cover the diver's nose while the swimming goggle does not. Snorkel and SCUBA masks are used in deeper dives than swimming goggles. There, therefore, is a greater tendency for leakage of water into a snorkel and SCUBA mask than into swimming goggles. Snorkel and SCUBA masks cover the diver's nose so that water which leaks into the mask may be cleared by expelling air from the nose into the mask, which causes ejection of the water from the mask at the seal at the bottom of the mask. Some SCUBA masks are equipped with a one-way valve at the bottom of the mask through which water may be ejected. Expulsion of air from the diver's nose into the mask may also be used to pressurize the mask to counter “mask squeeze”, the compression of air within the mask which accompanies descent to greater depths.

Although the figures of this patent application which illustrate the embodiments of the invention all show a SCUBA mask, the embodiments of this invention may be used equally well with a SCUBA or snorkel mask or swimming goggles.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing the first embodiment safety strap in use by a SCUBA diver. The user 30 is shown with a dive mask 20 with a lens 22 which is secured to the user's head 32 by a strap 24. Also visible in FIG. 1 is a SCUBA air tank 40, air hose 42, and a mouthpiece 44. The first embodiment safety strap 100 is comprised of a lanyard 140 which forms U-shaped loop with a right side 143 and a left side 141 (not visible in FIG. 1). The right end 113 of right side 143 of the lanyard is attached by attachment loop 110 to the right end 25 of strap 24. A first embodiment safety lock 120 is movably attached to both sides of the loop and divides the lanyard into an upper portion 142 and a lower portion 144. The upper loop 142 of the lanyard extends from the chin strap 120 up to the mask strap 24 and in sue surrounds the user's face. The lower loop 144 of the lanyard extends from the safety lock 120 to a barrel stopper 160 keeper and in use surrounds the user's neck behind the chin. The portion of the lower portion not visible in FIG. 1 is depicted by dashed line 146. A residual loop 148 extends from the back of the barrel stopper 160.

The first embodiment safety lock 120 is comprised of a single flexible generally rectangular strip of fabric which is closed about the sides of the lanyard and secured by hook and loop fasteners. The first embodiment safety lock is shown in detail in FIG. 4.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the first embodiment safety strap attached to a dive mask. Visible in FIG. 2 is a dive mask 20 with two lenses 22 and a space 26 for the user's nose. The mask 20 is secured to the user's head by a strap 24 attached to the mask at left end 23 and right end 25. The first embodiment safety strap 100 is comprised of a first embodiment lanyard 140 which forms a U-shaped loop with a right side 143 and a left side 141. The right end 113 of right side 143 of the lanyard is attached by attachment loop 110 to the right end 25 of strap 24. The left end 112 of left side 141 of the lanyard is attached by attachment loop 110 to the left end 23 of strap 24. A first embodiment safety lock 120 is movably attached to the left 141 and right 143 sides of the loop and divides the lanyard into an upper loop 142 and a lower loop 144. The upper loop 142 of the lanyard extends from the safety lock 120 up to the mask strap 24 and in use surrounds the user's face. The lower loop 144 of extends from the safety lock 120 to a barrel stopper 160 keeper and in use surrounds the user's neck. The barrel body 162 and release button 164 of barrel stopper 160 are shown in FIG. 2. A residual loop 148 extends from the barrel stopper and allows for the adjustment of the barrel stopper 160 by the user to tighten or loosen the lower loop 144 as necessary for a good fit about the user's neck.

The left 111 and right 113 ends of the lanyard 140 are reversibly attached to the left end 23 and right end 25 of strap 24. Attachment loops 110 are fastened to the left 111 and right 113 ends of the lanyard 140. The loops 110 are adjusted by sleeves 112 which may be moved on the lanyard in order to open or close the loops 110. Beads 114 are fixedly attached to the left 111 and right 113 ends of lanyard .140 in order to limit the movement of the sleeves 112.

Other means may be used to reversibly attach the ends of the lanyard to the mask. For example, a snap or hook may be used to form a loop in the ends of the lanyard. Such loops surround the mask strap as in FIG. 1.

The barrel stopper 160 is used as a keeper to reversibly press together the two lanyard sides, thus forming the bottom of the lower loop 144. Barrel stoppers commonly used on drawstrings on clothing are suitable for this use. The stopper has a hole through the side of the barrel body 162. A string or cord which is passed through the hole is normally gripped by a spring-operated mechanism. The gripping is released by pressing in the release button 164. Both the left side 141 and the right side 143 of the lanyard 140 are inserted through the barrel stopper hole. Other suitable reversibly means, such as a clamp, may be used as a keeper to secure the bottom of the lower loop 144.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the second embodiment safety strap 200 attached to a dive mask 20. The second embodiment safety strap is the same as the first embodiment depicted in FIGS. 1 and 3 except the second embodiment safety lock 220 is used to reversibly connect the right side 143 and left side 141 of lanyard 140. The safety lock 220 is comprised of a barrel loop 222 which reversibly interacts with a barrel hook 230 thereby attaching the sides of the lanyard and forming the upper loop 142 and lower loop 144. Additional details on the second embodiment safety lock are shown in FIG. 5. A barrel stopper 160 separates the lower loop 144 and residual loop 148.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the first embodiment safety lock 120 attached to right side 143 and left side 141 of the lanyard. The first embodiment safety lock is an approximately rectangular strap of fabric with a latching mechanism comprising an exterior 121 and interior 123 surface. The strap is folded approximately at the middle forming a front flap 124 and a rear flap 122. The interior 123 surface of the strap is covered with hooks and loops 126. In used, the strap is folded so that one of the lanyard sides, in this example right lanyard side 143 is trapped by the front flap 124 and the rear flap 122. The latching mechanism which retains the first embodiment safety lock in place on the lanyard is the interaction of the front flap and the rear flap.

In use, the flaps are pressed together locking the hook and loop fasteners along the interior 123 surface and engulfing and trapping the left lanyard side 141. Thus the safety lock is fixed in place on the lanyard sides until the user detaches the strap by pulling the front flap 124 away from the rear flap 122.

A preferred first embodiment safety lock is made of VELCRO hook and loop fasteners. VELCRO is a trademark owned by Velcro Industries B.V. for hook and loop fasteners. Such materials can be obtained from Velcro USA Inc., Manchester, N.H.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the second embodiment safety lock 220 attached to right side 143 and left side 141 of the lanyard. The second embodiment safety lock is comprised of two elements which are demountably attached to each other when the safety lock is in the locked configuration. A barrel loop 222 is attached to one strand of the lanyard and a barrel hook 230 is attached to the other strand. The barrel loop 222 comprises a barrel body 226 with a loop 228 attached to one end and having a release button 224 on the other end. The barrel hook 230 comprises a barrel body 234 with a hook 236 and keeper 238 attached to one end and having a release button 232 on the other end.

The barrel loop and barrel hook are placed on the lanyard by passing the strands through a hole in the side of the barrel loop or hook. The barrel loop and barrel strand are movably fixed to the lanyard strands by a spring operated latching mechanism which is normally in the gripping position. Pressing on the release buttons allows the barrel loop and barrel hook to be moved up and down the lanyard strands as desired to allow the lanyard strands to make a snug fit under the user's chin.

In use, the barrel loop 228 and barrel hook 236 interact to secure the second embodiment safety lock. The keeper 238 is a flexible leaf which prevents accidental detachment of the barrel loop and barrel hook. The keeper is depressed by the user when it is desired to unlock or detach the elements of the second embodiment safety lock.

The lanyard may be constructed of any suitable strong flexible material not damaged by water, such as nylon, rayon, cotton, plastic. A preferred material of construction is nylon.

The first embodiment safety lock is constructed of any suitable strong, flexible fabric not damaged by water, such as nylon, rayon, cotton or plastic. A preferred material of construction is nylon. Although a hook and loop fastener is preferred, any suitable fastener may be used to reversibly connect the front and rear flaps while engulfing and holding the lanyard sides, such as snaps or buttons.

The second embodiment safety lock is constructed of any suitable strong, hard material not damaged by water, such as plastic, aluminum, steel, or wood. A preferred material of construction is plastic. Although a spring operated gripping mechanism is preferred, any suitable gripping mechanism may be used to reversible grip the lanyard sides, such as a thumbscrew or a pin which penetrates the lanyard sides.

The keeper is constructed of any suitable strong, hard material not damaged by water, such as plastic, aluminum, steel, or wood. A preferred material is plastic. Although a spring operated gripping mechanism is preferred, any suitable gripping mechanism may be used to reversible grip the lanyard sides, such as a thumbscrew or a pin which penetrates the lanyard sides

Use of a safety strap involves the following steps. First, the attachment loops on the ends of the lanyard are looped over the mask strap near the attachment sites of the mask strap with the mask. The loops are adjusted provide a snug fit of the loops on the mask strap. The dive mask is mounted in place over the user's eyes with the lanyard extending over the user's back.

The left and right sides of the lanyard are connected together under the user's chin using the safety lock thereby forming the upper loop of the lanyard. The safety lock is adjusted on the left and right sides of the lanyard so the upper loop of the lanyard which extend from the safety lock to the attachment loops at the ends of the lanyard are taut and the safety latch is comfortably snug against the bottom of the user's chin. When the first embodiment safety lock is used, the hook and loop strap is moved to the correct fit and the front and rear flaps are pressed together. When the second embodiment safety lock is used, the loop barrel and the hook barrel are adjusted on the strands of the lanyard and the two portions of the safety lock latched together.

Next, the barrel stopper is adjusted on the lanyard so the lower loop of the lanyard is snug against the side and back of the user's neck. If for some extraordinary reason the chin strap is broken or displaced, the lower loop in the lanyard around the user's neck will prevent displacement or loss of the dive mask.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the examples and embodiments described herein are by way of illustration and not of limitation, and that other examples may be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention, as set forth in the appended claims.