Title:
Boat safety apparatus and method therefor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus and method for quickly reducing and/or stopping human carbon monoxide exposure and/or inhalation in connection with the operation of a gas powered boat. The present invention may be adapted to a wide variety of boats, new or used, wherever carbon monoxide is produced in connection with the operation of a boat. In addition to swim steps, ladders, sun decks, platforms and swim platforms, the present invention may be adapted to virtually any form of device on a boat where carbon monoxide and one or more humans may be present.



Inventors:
Davidson, Michael J. (Fresno, CA, US)
Freeman, Brian W. (Dinuba, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/178986
Publication Date:
01/11/2007
Filing Date:
07/10/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B17/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
AVILA, STEPHEN P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CARR & FERRELL LLP (MENLO PARK, CA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A Boat Safety Apparatus And Method Therefor comprising: a means for human interaction; and a means for disassociating human contact.

2. A Boat Safety Apparatus And Method Therefor comprising: a means for detecting human interaction; a means for human interaction; and a means for signaling a boat's carbon monoxide producing engine.

3. A Boat Safety Apparatus And Method Therefor as claimed in claim 2, further comprising: a means for disassociating human contact.

4. A Boat Safety Apparatus And Method Therefor comprising the acts of: detecting the interaction of one or more humans with a tangible object located on a boat where the presence of potentially harmful levels of carbon monoxide may be found; signaling said boat's carbon monoxide producing engine; and rendering said carbon monoxide producing engine to a state wherein said carbon monoxide production is reduced and/or terminated.

5. A Boat Safety Apparatus And Method Therefor as claimed in claim 4, further comprising the act of: disassociating the contact of said one or more humans with said tangible object.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM

Not Applicable

DESCRIPTION OF ATTACHED APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to boats that produce carbon monoxide.

2. Background of the Invention

Marine safety is a growing concern. A central reason for this growing concern is due to the increase in the number of boats plying the waterways of this country. This increase is due in large part to the increase in population and disposable incomes. As a consequence, there is a steady upsurge in the amount of money and time devoted to water activities, including recreational boating activities. This increase in recreational boating activities has led to an increase in the number of boating accidents.

Recreational boats are used in a variety of water sports including, sailing, fishing, water skiing, barefoot skiing, teak surfing, platform dragging, knee boarding, wake boarding, wake surfing, towing people on inflatable devices and general recreational use. Many sailboats are equipped with carbon monoxide producing motors or engines. All of these activities require the occupant to spend time at or near where the carbon monoxide is being released into the environment and/or where the concentration of carbon monoxide coupled with the length of time exposed to carbon monoxide can potentially be fatal, which is often at or near the rear of the boat. These activities may also require the occupants of the boat to enter and exit the boat while away from the shore or dock. To accomplish entering and exiting the boat while away from the shore or dock, most boats are equipped with swim steps, ladders, decks, sun decks, platforms and swim platforms.

In addition to swim steps, ladders, decks, sun decks, platforms and swim platforms, most boats are designed with an exhaust system where engine exhaust is released at or near the rear of the boat. The combination of these two factors has created a zone of danger that is responsible for many deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that mixes evenly with air. Carbon monoxide is extremely harmful to humans because it limits the ability of blood to carry oxygen. Blood has an estimated 210-250 times greater affinity for carbon monoxide than for oxygen. Carbon monoxide binds with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin, which interferes with the uptake and delivery of oxygen to the body.

Human death can result from a very brief exposure to a high concentration of carbon monoxide or from prolonged exposure to a low concentration of carbon monoxide. The initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, drowsiness or nausea. Unfortunately, on the water, these symptoms are often misdiagnosed as being signs of fatigue or seasickness.

All gasoline combustion engines produce at least a small amount of carbon monoxide. What is not generally known, however, is that the amount of carbon monoxide generated and released into the atmosphere by a gasoline powered boat engine typically far exceeds that generated and released into the air by other forms of gasoline combustion engines. One of the reasons for this fact is because boat engines are generally not equipped with catalytic converters. Catalytic converters, such as those found in automobiles, convert carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide and water. The absence of catalytic converters on boats means that all of the carbon monoxide formed during combustion is being released into the atmosphere along with the exhaust of the boat engine.

In July 2001, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (“NIOSH”) ran a series of tests on a 1993 21′ MasterCraft ProStar 205 ski boat to determine the levels of carbon monoxide produced. The federal investigators recorded concentrations of carbon monoxide as high as 23,800 Parts Per Million (“PPM”) in the unobstructed airspace above the swim platform. Investigators then ran another test in which they positioned a life vest in an upright position on the swim platform. The results of those tests indicated that carbon monoxide concentrations on the swim platform ranged between 10,000 and 26,700 PPM. These concentrations of carbon monoxide are approximately twenty times the level considered immediately dangerous to life and health; four times the level known to cause death within 10 to 15 minutes; and double the level known to cause immediate death. In addition, the federal investigators performed smoke testing to visually observe the flow pattern of the engine exhaust containing the deadly carbon monoxide. They observed that when the boat was in forward motion, the exhaust would hover around the rear of the boat, remaining very concentrated in the pocket behind the transom (or stern) of the boat and above the swim platform.

In September 2004, acknowledging the growing and detrimental impact of this unresolved problem, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 2222. The law, taking effect in 2005, is the first of its kind in the United States. This law requires the state Department of Boating and Waterways and the Department of Motor Vehicles to send warning information to boaters in connection with boat registration renewals. The law also requires that any new or used boat sold in California contain a warning sticker affixed to the boat, so both the driver of the boat and anyone behind the boat can clearly see the warning. The law also makes it an infraction to operate a boat whenever anyone is teak-surfing, body surfing or occupying the swim platform or swim ladder when the engine is running. This legislation represents the present state of the art in attempting to solve the problem of carbon monoxide poisoning in connection with gas powered boats.

Unfortunately, as widely observed in the cases of automobile speeding and drunk driving, legislation proscribing operator conduct and requiring warning labels seldom solves the underlying problem, which is evidenced by the continuing high number of fatalities. Clearly, if there was a better solution to the problem of carbon monoxide poisoning in connection with gas powered boat operation, it would have been implemented by now in order to stop the needless deaths.

The present invention solves this problem, producing superior results in a new and non-obvious fashion.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention represents an apparatus and method for quickly reducing and/or stopping human carbon monoxide exposure and/or inhalation in connection with the operation of a gas powered boat.

A feature of the present invention is that it may be adapted to a wide variety of boats, new or used, wherever carbon monoxide is produced in connection with the operation of a boat. In addition to swim steps, ladders, sun decks, platforms and swim platforms, the present invention may be adapted to virtually any form of device on a boat where carbon monoxide and one or more humans may be present.

With respect to platforms and swim platforms, a wide variety of swim platforms are available on boats. Typically, the platforms are mounted on the transom and project rearward from the boat slightly above the water level to facilitate entering and exiting the boat from the water. Water-skiers often use the swim platform as a staging area prior to entering the water for skiing. Other times the platform or swim platform is a minimal protrusion from the rear of the boat, where the boat's occupants are sometimes found. In any case, the present invention is readily adapted to such situations.

REFERENCE NUMERALS

Means for detecting human interaction, 10; means for human interaction, 11; means for signaling the boat's carbon monoxide producing engine, 12; and means for disassociating human contact, 13.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an overall view of one type of boat showing one preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an upper view of one preferred embodiment of the present invention, showing the components of the invention with respect to a swim platform.

FIG. 3 is a side view of one preferred embodiment of the present invention, showing the components of the invention with respect to a swim platform, including the means for disassociating human contact.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1-3 illustrate one preferred embodiment of the present invention.

A means for detecting human interaction 10, such as an environmentally resistant substrate comprising a soft and yielding material, or the equivalent thereof, is positioned, integrated and/or affixed at least in part to the upper surface of the means for human interaction 11. A means for signaling the boat's carbon monoxide producing engine 12, is positioned directly on or in close proximity to the means for detecting human interaction and facilitates communication from said means for detecting human interaction to said carbon monoxide producing engine. A means for disassociating human contact 13, may be employed in connection with the means for human interaction; in connection with the means for human interaction, the means for detecting human interaction and the means for signaling the boat's carbon monoxide producing engine; or not at all.

One embodiment of the invention utilizes as a means for detecting human interaction one or more pressure sensitive mats that are pre-wired and/or connected in series or in another coordinated fashion. Special sizes and shapes of mats may be used. The invention may utilize one or more pressure sensitive mats, with each mat comprising two conductive treated plates or the equivalent thereof, that are held apart by non conductive compressible separators. The invention may utilize a monitoring control unit or the equivalent thereof to provide a coordinated and/or centralized system for detecting human interaction over one or more interconnected pressure sensitive mats. The invention may utilize a pressure sensitive mat that is sealed and has an overall integrity to be resistant to most liquids, solutions and other environmental factors.

Means for human interaction may include, however, is not limited to, swim steps, ladders, decks, sun decks, platforms and swim platforms. Virtually any tangible object where the presence of one or more humans and potentially harmful levels of carbon monoxide may be found can constitute a means for human interaction.

Means for signaling the boat's carbon monoxide producing engine may include, however, is not limited to, a wire, cord and/or any form of electromagnetic or infrared transmission mechanism, wireless or not, capable of providing and/or yielding one or more signals to the boat's carbon monoxide producing engine.

Means for disassociating human contact may include, however, is not limited to, a no-hold design such as a curved lip or edge on those portions of the means for human interaction where a person is likely to grip or utilize to maintain contact while the boat is in motion. The means for disassociating human contact is important, given the direct relationship between the rate of the boat's movement and carbon monoxide production by the boat's engine, because a person holding onto the means for disassociating human contact is more likely to become disassociated from the boat as the boat's rate of movement increases.

When the boat's carbon monoxide producing engine is in operation and no human is detected by the means for detecting human interaction, the means for signaling the boat's carbon monoxide producing engine, provides or yields a signal to said carbon monoxide producing engine. When a human is detected by the means for detecting human interaction, such as in the case of one or more pressure sensitive mats, the conductive plates typically found in said mat or mats come into closer proximity to each other, resulting in the means for signaling the boat's carbon monoxide producing engine providing or yielding a different signal, including no signal, to the boat's carbon monoxide producing engine. Said different signal results in the boat's carbon monoxide producing engine being quickly rendered to a state wherein carbon monoxide production is effectively reduced and/or terminated by said engine.

Whereas the invention has been shown and described in connection with the preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood that many modifications, substitutions, and additions may be made which are within the intended broad scope of the following claims. Those skilled in the art will know what materials to use and how to complete the present invention by adding such parts missing from the illustrations.