Title:
Secure storm container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to apparatus and methods for protecting valuables during a storm or other natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado by securing such valuables in a containment unit that an owner leaves behind in the wake of the oncoming storm. In one aspect of the present invention, the containment unit is designed to withstand the impact of the storm via a heavily constructed containment unit that includes multiple layers of waterproofing. In another aspect of the present invention, the containment unit is designed to be bolted deeply into the floor or foundation of a home or business for the purpose of keeping the containment unit in place during the ravages of the storm.



Inventors:
Hoffman, Kenneth (Chester, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/708805
Publication Date:
08/30/2007
Filing Date:
02/20/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D88/76
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KIRSCH, ANDREW THOMAS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Chipperson Law Group, P.C. (Morristown, NJ, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An apparatus for protecting articles comprising: a case for containing said articles; a lid coupled to said case; and at least one extension including at least one extension aperture, said extension coupled to said case to facilitate securing of said apparatus to a slab.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1 further comprising: at least one bolt for securing said apparatus to said slab, wherein said at least one bolt passes through said at least one extension aperture.

3. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said at least one bolt is a stainless steel cement bolt.

4. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said extension is a wing.

5. A method for protecting articles from a storm or other natural disaster and the byproducts thereof comprising the steps of: securing at least one containment unit to at least one slab; placing said articles in said at least one containment unit; and closing said at least one containment unit.

6. A method according to claim 5, wherein said securing includes: passing at least one bolt through at least one aperture in said containment unit into said at least one slab; and securing said at least one bolt to said slab.

7. A method according to claim 6, wherein said at least one bolt is a stainless steel cement bolt.

8. An apparatus for protecting articles comprising: a case for containing said articles; and a lid coupled to said case; wherein said apparatus protects said articles from a storm or other natural disaster and the byproducts thereof.

9. An apparatus according to claim 8 further comprising: at least one waterproof hinge for coupling said lid to said case.

10. An apparatus according to claim 8 further comprising: at least one latching mechanism.

11. An apparatus according to claim 10, said latching mechanism further comprising: at least one latch; and a sliding security bar; wherein said sliding security bar passes through at least one latch aperture for the purpose of holding said lid adjacent said case to prevent opening of said lid with respect to said case.

12. An apparatus according to claim 8 further comprising: at least one lock for locking said lid in a closed position relative to said case.

13. An apparatus according to claim 8 further comprising: at least one gasket located adjacent an external surface of said case and surrounding a perimeter of said external surface; wherein said gasket forms a watertight seal between said case and said lid.

14. An apparatus according to claim 8 further comprising: at least one first lip coupled to said lid; and at least one gasket located adjacent an external surface of said case and surrounding a perimeter of said external surface; wherein said at least one first lip forms a watertight seal with said at least one gasket.

15. An apparatus according to claim 8, further comprising: at least one second lip coupled to said lid; and at least one groove within said case; wherein said at least one second lip rests within said at least one groove when said lid is in a closed position relative to said case.

16. An apparatus according to claim 15, wherein said at least one groove is at least partially filled with at least one foam.

17. An apparatus according to claim 8 further comprising: at least one liner.

18. An apparatus according to claim 8, wherein at least a portion of at least one wall of at least one of the group consisting of said lid, said case, and combinations thereof is a double wall.

19. An apparatus according to claim 18, wherein said double wall is a double steel wall.

20. An apparatus according to claim 18, wherein at least a portion of said double wall is at least partially filled with foam.

21. An apparatus according to claim 8, wherein at least a portion of at least one of the group consisting of said lid, said case, and combinations thereof is constructed from at least one of the group consisting of heavy gauge steel, aluminum, high impact plastic, and combinations thereof.

22. An apparatus according to claim 8, wherein at least a portion of at least one of the group consisting of said lid, said case, and combinations thereof is constructed from at least one rust-resistant material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of the U.S. provisional patent application entitled “Secure Hurricane Container”, having Ser. No. 60/767,036, filed Feb. 27, 2006, and currently pending, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety as if fully set forth herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to apparatus and methods for protecting valuables during a storm or other natural disaster. More specifically, the present invention relates to apparatus and methods for securing valuables in a containment unit that is left behind at the site of the natural disaster and in some instances is bolted to a foundation or floor of same.

After seeing the devastation of the past year owing to twenty four named hurricanes hitting the Southern United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean, there seems to be a need to better protect personal property, especially bulky items, in the event that one must quickly leave one's home. What is needed is a Secure Storm Container (“SSC”) to provide, to the greatest extent possible, a strong, windproof and waterproof unit that can withstand the forces of a storm such as a hurricane or tornado, the flying and falling debris associated therewith, and the water surges that they cause. The unit will be used by residents of hurricane states, tornado states, and other regions as a safe containment device to protect valuables, especially bulky materials, which owners cannot take with them as they quickly flee a major storm, hurricane or tornado.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly stated, in one aspect of the present invention, an apparatus for protecting articles is provided. This apparatus includes case for containing the articles, a lid coupled to the case, and at least one extension including at least one extension aperture, the extension coupled to the case to facilitate securing of the apparatus to a slab.

In another aspect of the present invention, a method for protecting articles from a storm or other natural disaster and the byproducts thereof is provided. This method includes the steps of: securing at least one containment unit to at least one slab; placing the articles in the at least one containment unit; and closing the at least one containment unit.

In another aspect of the present invention, an apparatus for protecting articles is provided. This apparatus includes a case for containing the articles and a lid coupled to the case, wherein the apparatus protects the articles from a storm or other natural disaster and the byproducts thereof.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there are shown in the drawings embodiments that are presently preferred. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a secure storm container secured to a concrete slab in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the secure storm container depicted in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front view of the secure storm container depicted in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a top view of the secure storm container depicted in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the secure storm container depicted in FIG. 1 including a cutaway view of interior waterproofing elements; and

FIG. 6 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the closure mechanism of the secure storm container depicted in FIG. 1 taken along lines 6-6 of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Certain terminology is used in the following description for convenience only and is not limiting. The words “lower” and “upper” and “top” and “bottom” designate directions in the drawings to which reference is made. The terminology includes the words above specifically mentioned, derivatives thereof and words of similar import.

Where a term is provided in the singular, the inventors also contemplate aspects of the invention described by the plural of that term. As used in this specification and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a”, “an” and “the” include plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise, e.g., “a bolt” includes a plurality of bolts. Thus, for example, a reference to “a method” includes one or more methods, and/or steps of the type described herein and/or which will become apparent to those persons skilled in the art upon reading this disclosure.

Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, the preferred methods, constructs and materials are now described. All publications mentioned herein are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. Where there are discrepancies in terms and definitions used in references that are incorporated by reference, the terms used in this application shall have the definitions given herein.

Referring first to FIG. 1, depicted is SSC 10 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. SSC 10 is designed to help protect personal property (e.g., a computer, hard drive, photos, documents, files, china, books, etc.) during a major storm such as a tornado or thunderstorm. The construction of SSC 10 as described herein protects its contents from flying and falling debris caused by high winds, storm surges, and driving rain. In the embodiment of the present invention depicted in FIG. 1, SSC 10 is secured to concrete slab 80 and includes, inter alia, latch 20, lid 30, case 40, security bar 50, wings 60, hinges 90, gasket 100, liner 110, and foam 120.

SSC 10 may be sized to hold a significant amount of valuables of varying shapes and sizes. Although the size of SSC 10 may vary, in one embodiment of the present invention, SSC 10 is capable of holding a computer hard drive, a monitor, and other valuables. While smaller or larger sizes may be used, in one embodiment of the present invention such as that depicted in FIG. 1, SSC 10 measures roughly 18 inches high by 36 inches wide. However, larger or smaller units, as well as those having varying proportions, may be substituted depending upon the needs of consumers without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Case 40 and lid 30 are constructed from a heavy gauge steel, aluminum, high impact plastic, or the like. However, case 40 and lid 30 may be constructed of any material capable of withstanding flying and falling debris such as that generated by a hurricane or tornado without departing from the scope of the present invention.

In some embodiments of the present invention such as that depicted in FIGS. 1-6, case 40 is formed of double steel walls 130. Also, although lid 30 is shown as having a single wall construction, it may also be formed with double steel walls without departing from the scope of the present invention. Alternatively, case 40 and/or lid 30, may be constructed from a double wall formed from a material other than steel without departing from the scope of the present invention. Additionally, case 40 and lid 30 may be formed of a single wall or other multiple material wall (e.g., a multiple wide heavy gauge material) without departing from the scope hereof.

In another aspect of the present invention, SSC 10 is made of rust resistant materials capable of protecting its contents from corrosive seawater. However, non-rust resistant materials may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Referring next to FIG. 2, depicted is a bottom view of SSC 10 that better depicts the additional safety factor of one or more wings 60. Wings 60 facilitate securing of SSC 10 deep into a home or garage's foundation or floor by passing bolts 70 (e.g., stainless steel cement bolts) through wings 60 and fastening them into concrete slab 80. In one embodiment of the present invention, eight stainless steel cement bolts, each measuring eight inches long and three-quarter inches wide, are used to anchor SSC 10 deep into the floor or foundation of a building to keep SSC 10 in place. However, other means of securing the SSC may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention such as use of bolts having a different size or use of a greater or fewer number of bolts. Although FIG. 2 depicts the use of extensions of the bottom of SSC 10 (i.e., wings 60) to secure SSC 10 to a foundation and/or floor, SSC 10 may be secured thereto in several different manners, depending upon the security and aesthetic needs of the consumer without departing from the scope of the present invention.

In some embodiments of the present invention, wings 60 are individual pieces welded to the bottom and/or lower edges of the sides of case 40. In alternate embodiments, case 40 and wings 60 may be forged as a single unit. In yet another embodiment, wings 60 are individual pieces that include a right angle, wherein a first end of the right angle is secured to case 40 and a second end of the right angle (i.e., an end that is perpendicular to the first end) is secured to the surface upon which SSC 10 is located. However, other methods for manufacturing and/or coupling wings 60 to case 40 may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

The securing of SSC 10 to a foundation, floor, or the like will keep the unit in place even if other parts of the building are no longer there after the storm. This is important as often a building is destroyed and its contents are taken far away. With the contents secured deeply into the foundation or floor of a building, an owner can quickly locate and access their possessions. However, embodiments of the present invention without a mechanism for securing same to a foundation or floor (e.g., wings 60) are also envisioned. Furthermore, alternate methods of securing the present invention to a foundation or floor may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Referring next to FIGS. 3 and 4, depicted are front and top views, respectively, of SSC 10 including front and top views, respectively, of latches 20. Lid 30 includes one or more secure latches 20 or other sealing devices to hold SSC 10 closed in virtually every natural disaster within the design of SSC 10's materials. Several different types of locking and/or latching mechanisms may be used to secure the contents of SSC 10, with the most important factor being that the locking and/or latching mechanisms firmly close SSC 10 to withstand infiltration of water as well as opening of SSC 10 due to the forces of wind and/or flying debris.

As depicted in FIGS. 3 and 4, latches 20 are integral to lid 30 and are coupled to case 40 via sliding security bar 50. Prior to closing lid 30 relative to case 40, sliding security bar 50 is removed to an extent that it will not interfere with latches 20 during the closing of lid 30. When lid 30 is closed, a portion of each latch 20 aligns with the path of sliding security bar 50 allowing sliding security bar 50 to pass therethrough. Sliding security bar 50 is then passed through latches 20 and is further secured to case 40, thereby creating a waterproof seal between lid 30 and case 40 that protects the contents within SSC 10 through virtually every type of natural disaster within the design of SSC 10's materials. Although FIGS. 1-6 depict the latching mechanism as a plurality of latches 20 and a sliding security bar 50, other latching mechanisms may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Furthermore, in some embodiments of the present invention, SSC 10 includes one or more locks for added security and to protect the valuables from looters after the disaster. In one embodiment of the present invention, each lock is a padlock that passes through a plurality of apertures located in a respective latch 20 and the portion of sliding bar 50 present within such latch 20. However, non-locking embodiments are envisioned within the scope of the present invention.

Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 6, in some embodiments of the present invention such as that depicted in FIGS. 1 through 6, SSC 10 includes multiple protection features to protect the interior of the unit, and therefore the unit's contents, from a storm's by-products such as wind, rain, and saltwater storm surges. In some embodiments of the present invention such as that depicted in FIGS. 1-6, lid 30 is sealed to case 40 by means of the following four waterproofing measures.

First, lid 30 includes first lip 140 that encloses the outside of the top of case 40. When SSC 10 is closed, lid 30 will rest upon a rubber or other water resistant material (e.g., rubberized water-resistant gasket 100) located around the entire outside of the top of case 40. This material acts to seal lid 30 to case 40.

Second, second lip 150 and groove 160 provide a second layer of waterproofing. Lid 30 includes second lip 150, which is located just inside first lip 140, that digs into groove 160. In some aspects of the present invention, groove 160 and/or other portions of walls 130 are filled with a foam sealant or other water sealing material (e.g., waterproof foam 120) to further seal lid 30 to case 40 and/or to provide additional protection to the contents of SSC 10.

Third, the inside of SSC 10 will be lined with liner 110 (e.g., a hard plastic liner) or another waterproof material that will have a third sealing material which will rest against the lid when it is closed, creating a third water resistant protective layer. The interior has been constructed with a hard plastic or other waterproof material to specifically keep personal items, such as computer hard drives and other water and mold sensitive materials, secure and dry.

Fourth, the back of lid 30 is secured to case 40 with hinges 90 (e.g., waterproof hinges) to provide a fourth layer of waterproofing.

Although four specific layers of waterproofing have been described with respect to FIGS. 5 and 6, other means of keeping the unit waterproof can be foreseen and/or substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention. Additionally, the above four waterproofing features may be varied to include one or more additional layers of waterproofing without departing from the scope of the present invention.

The present invention further includes a method for protecting valuables during a storm such as a hurricane, tornado, or the like. The method includes the use of a heavy gauge steel or other very durable material containment unit that is meant to withstand the impacts of a storm (e.g., a hurricane) to protect valuable items that an owner leaves behind in the wake of an oncoming storm. In some embodiments, the unit is waterproof, windproof, and is heavily fortified to protect from flying and falling debris. First, the unit is placed in any room in a house or garage that has a thick and durable floor (preferably a cement or stone slab). The unit is then secured into the floor or foundation using heavy bolting pieces that will bore many inches into a solid floor or foundation. The unit is then filled with a person's valuable items, including any difficult to carry bulky items, and it is tightly closed using a locking and/or latching mechanism. This method is intended to keep valuables in place in a building (i.e., secured to the floor) and safe from the elements.

All in all, the apparatus and methods of the present invention can be used by those who want to keep valuables safe from the impact of storms or other natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes and tornados). These natural events can destroy valuables through the force of wind, which tends to cause flying debris and building collapse, as well as through water damage such as rain and storm surge. The apparatus and methods of the present invention are designed to prevent destruction and/or movement of a person's valuables due to such natural disasters. The present invention is designed as the best alternative to physically taking valuables prior to the onset of a natural disaster, which is often impractical when a storm approaches quickly and evacuation is necessary. The present invention allows important items such as bulky business papers, wide documents, computer drives and equipment, art, photos, etc. to be quickly stored and sealed before an oncoming storm. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, the present invention also allows an owner to return to the location of such stored valuables, or the remnants thereof, to find their valuables safe and secure.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concept thereof. It is understood, therefore, that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but it is intended to cover modifications within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.