Title:
Hinged Flexible Strap For Folding Disposable Restraints
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved disposable restraining device having hinged flexible straps for improved strength and to promote safe tightening of the restraining device around a detainee's arms or wrists. The hinges of the flexible straps enable the straps to bend at a specific predefined point such that the straps tighten in a manner that better conforms to the shape of the detainee's arms or wrists. By permitting the straps to tighten in this manner, the hinges provide added strength to the restraining device and ensure that there are no open areas under the straps that would squeeze or pinch a portion of the detainee's arms or wrists in a manner that would cause unintended injury to the detainee, or which would enable the detainee to turn or otherwise manipulate his hands or wrists in a manner that would allow him to slip out of the restraints.



Inventors:
Parsons, Kevin L. (Appleton, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/464885
Publication Date:
02/21/2008
Filing Date:
08/16/2006
Assignee:
ARMAMENT SYSTEMS AND PROCEDURES, INC. (Appleton, WI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D63/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRITTAIN, JAMES R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
George S. Pavlik (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An improved disposable restraining device comprising: a first flexible strap and a second, separate flexible strap, each strap having a first and second end, said first end having a free tip, said second end of each flexible strap having a locking box extending perpendicularly from the respective strap; said locking box having a top and bottom having central openings adapted for receiving the free tip of the flexible strap, whereby the strap forms a loop when the tip end is threaded through the locking box; said first and said second flexible straps each having a hinge proximate the second end of the flexible strap adjacent the locking box, said hinge permitting the flexible strap to bend in a direction away from the perpendicularly extending locking box.

2. The improved disposable restraining device of claim 1 wherein the hinge of each flexible strap is located proximate the bottom of the locking box;

3. The improved disposable restraining device of claim 1 wherein the hinge allows the flexible strap to outwardly bend to form an angle that is less than 180 degrees.

4. The improved disposable restraining device of claim 1 wherein the first end of the flexible strap further comprises a plurality of saw toothed ribs extending longitudinally along an inside surface of said strap.

5. The improved disposable restraining device of claim 1 wherein the flexible strap has a notch for folding said strap into a compact storage position.

6. A flexible strap for a disposable restraining device, the strap comprising: a first end having a free tip; a second end having a locking box extending perpendicularly from the strap, said locking box adapted to receive the first end of the strap; a hinge formed within the flexible strap proximate the second end of said strap adjacent the locking box, said hinge providing flexibility between the second end of the flexible strap and the remainder of said strap.

7. The flexible strap of claim 6 wherein the first end of the said strap further comprises a plurality of saw toothed ribs extending longitudinally along an inside surface of said strap.

8. The flexible strap of claim 6 wherein said strap has a notch for folding the flexible strap into a compact storage position.

9. A flexible strap for a disposable restraining device having a locking box and interlocking cover, the strap comprising: a first end and a second end, the first end of said flexible strap having a free tip adapted to be threaded through the locking box and interlocking cover to form a closed loop, the second end of said flexible strap having a locking box extending perpendicularly from the strap; a hinge formed within the flexible strap proximate the second end of said strap adjacent the locking box, said hinge permitting the closed loop formed by the flexible strap to bend in a direction away from the perpendicularly extending locking box.

10. The flexible strap of claim 9 wherein the hinge is located at a point on the strap proximate the bottom of the locking box.

11. The flexible strap of claim 9 wherein the hinge causes the flexible strap to bend in an outward direction to form an angle that is less than 180 degrees.

12. The flexible strap of claim 9 wherein the first end of said strap further comprises a plurality of saw toothed ribs extending longitudinally along an inside surface of said strap

13. The flexible strap of claim 9 wherein said strap has a notch for folding the flexible strap into a compact storage position.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is generally an improvement over disposable restraining devices commonly used by military and law enforcement personnel and is specifically directed to a hinged foldable strap for use in connection with a disposable restraining device having flexible straps that are placed around the arms or wrists of a person being restrained. The hinged straps of the present invention are intended to increase the strength of the disposable retraining device and to promote safe tightening of the straps around a detainee's arms or wrists.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Restraining devices such as handcuffs are well known and have been available for many years. The best known restraining devices are traditional handcuffs which generally consist of a pair of metal rings which are placed about the wrists of an individual and locked into place. While these kinds of traditional handcuffs serve the purpose of restraining an individual, they have many drawbacks including being heavy, bulky to carry, expensive and are often times inconvenient, particularly in multiple arrest situations such as riots and the like. Because of these drawbacks, it has become more desirable to utilize disposable handcuffs which are lightweight, inexpensive and do not require a key. Moreover, disposable restraints are typically intended for single use and therefore will not serve as a carrier for communicable diseases due to contamination from cuts or abrasions received during the detainment of successive individuals.

Disposable handcuffs having these benefits are generally well known and available. Examples of such disposable handcuffs are illustrated by U.S. Pat. No. 5,669,110 entitled “Interlocking Cover Folding Strap Disposable Restraints” and U.S. Pat. No. 6,101,682 entitled “Folding Strap Disposable Restraints.” As disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,101,682, two separate flexible straps are provided each having a free tip end portion passing through a locking box. Detents are provided in each locking box and are arranged to resiliently engage a saw-tooth ribbed surface on each strap to retain the strap once it has been pulled through a central opening of the locking box to prevent the straps from being withdrawn once the free tip end portions are pulled outwardly from the locking box.

While disposable restraints having such characteristics have been well received by military and law enforcement personnel on account of their improved strength and lightweight design, some difficulties have been encountered with such restraints in that they have been known, on occasion, to cause unintended injury to the detainee. Specifically, circumstances have arisen where the flexible straps of certain types of disposable restraints, when tightened, have squeezed or pinched a portion of the detainee's arms or wrists and have caused temporary or even permanent injury to the detainee's tissue, bones or nerves. Although the occurrence of such injuries is exceptionally rare, the existence of such a danger may expose military and law enforcement organizations that use disposable restraints to liability for such injuries. Such liability may in some cases be significant in situations where the injury is substantial or where the injured party is an individual who relies on fine motor command of their hands and fingers, as is the case with surgeons or concert pianists. Therefore, despite the considerable benefits that disposable restraints may offer military and law enforcement organizations, the risk of potential injury to the detainee and resulting liability may deter certain organizations from using disposable restraints altogether.

As will be described in greater detail hereinafter, the foldable straps of the present invention alleviate the risk of injury to the detainee by providing a hinged flexible strap that is intended to bend in an outward direction when the flexible straps are unfolded and tightened around the arms or wrists of the detainee. In allowing the flexible straps to bend at a specific predefined point, the hinge prevents the straps from tightening in a manner which would cause the restraining device to squeeze or pinch the detainee's arms or wrists.

Also described in greater detail hereinafter is the additional strength that the hinges of the present invention provide to the flexible restraints. Since the hinges are formed within the flexible straps, the straps are comprised of less material than the straps of prior restraints not having the hinges. Despite having less material however, restraints having hinged flexible straps are 12% stronger than identical restraints not having the hinged strap.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The subject invention is specifically directed to an improvement of the type of disposable handcuffs generally described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,669,110 entitled “Interlocking Cover Folding Strap Disposable Restraints,” U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,675 entitled “Interlocking Cover Folding Strap Disposable Restraints,” U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,888 entitled “Flexible Strap Restraining Device,” U.S. Pat. No. 6,101,682 entitled “Folding Strap Disposable Restraints,” and U.S. Pat. No. 6,219,887 entitled “Folding Strap Disposable Restraints” which are each improvements over the prior art devices.

Like these prior disposable restraints, the subject invention has two extremely strong, tamper resistant flexible straps that are joined together by an interlocking cover to form separate closed loops. Each flexible strap has two ends. One end of each flexible strap is attached to a locking box having a top and bottom with central openings, while the other end of the straps have free tips that are adapted to be threaded through the central openings of the locking box and interlocking cover to form the closed loops intended to restrain the arms and wrists of the detainee. In restraining an individual, it is intended that a police or security officer will unfold the flexible straps which form the closed loops and place each of the individual's hands through the separate loops. The officer would then pull the free tip ends of the flexible straps in order to tighten the loops around the individual's wrists. When the loops are tightened, the individual's arms are bound in a manner that prohibits the individual from making use of them.

The subject invention is an improvement over prior disposable restraints in that each of the flexible straps has a hinge which allows the strap to bend at a specific point in a direction away from the locking box and interlocking cover. The hinges are located proximate the end of each flexible strap, at a point where it is joined to the locking box, such that the hinge is approximately even with the bottom of the locking box. These hinges allow the straps that form the closed loops to bend in a direction away from the locking box at a specific predefined point. By allowing the flexible straps to bend at the point where the hinges are located, the hinges enable the closed loops to assume a shape that better corresponds to the outside contour of the detainee's arms or wrists. This improved shape ensures that the flexible straps fit more snugly around the arms and wrists of the detainee when tightened and prevents open spaces from forming under the straps which could pinch or squeeze a portion of the detainee's arms or wrists when the loops are tightened.

By enabling the flexible straps to tighten in a shape that better corresponds to the outside surface of the detainee's arms or wrists, a disposable restraining device incorporating the subject invention will be more comfortable and secure and less likely to cause a detainee to incur an unintended injury. As such, restraining devices with the hinged flexible straps will be more useful to law enforcement personnel in that they can be utilized without risking injury to the detainee.

In addition to increased comfort and safety, the hinged flexible straps of the subject restraints also add strength to the restraints and generally make them more tamper resistant. It has been shown that the presence of hinges on the flexible straps in an area that is proximate to the bottom of the locking box strengthens the closed loops over prior restraints. Indeed, testing of restraints having the hinged flexible strap by a tensile machine using a National Institute of Justice specification handcuff fixture has shown that such restraints are 12% stronger than identical restraints not having the hinged strap. Such increased strength is attributable to the fact that the hinged area allows the strap to bend in a more uniform manner which in turn distributes the force caused by the bending in a more uniform manner across the length of the strap as opposed to confining such force to a few distinct points along the strap. Furthermore, by enabling the closed loops to tighten in a shape that better corresponds to the outside surface of the detainee's arms or wrists, the hinges ensure that there are no open spaces under the straps that would permit the detainee to turn or otherwise manipulate his hands or wrists in a manner that would allow him to slip out of the restraints.

It is therefore an object and feature of the subject invention to provide an improved disposable restraining device having hinged flexible straps which enable the closed loops to have a shape that better corresponds to the outside surface of the detainee's arms or wrists when tightened in order to permit the loops to fit around the detainee's arms or wrists in a more snug and secure manner.

It is another object of the subject invention to provide an improved disposable restraining device having hinged flexible straps that, despite being comprised of less material, are stronger than non-hinged straps of prior restraints, whereby such added strength is intended to provide increased resilience to the closed loops which are formed thereby.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved disposable restraining device having hinged flexible straps which, when tightened, ensure that there are no open spaces under the straps that would permit the detainee to turn or otherwise manipulate his hands or wrists in a manner that would allow him to slip out of the restraints.

It is a further object of the invention to provide an extremely strong, tamper resistant, disposable restraining device having flexible hinged straps joined together by an interlocking cover where the hinged straps may be replaced after use and the interlocking cover can be reused as a restraining device along with new hinged flexible straps.

Further objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following description and the appended claims when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the improved disposable restraining device including an exploded view of the locking box ends of the hinged straps removed from the interlocking cover and illustrating the placement of the locking boxes in the cover and slots in the top and bottom walls of the cover for receiving the free tip ends of the hinged straps.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of disposable restraints showing the hinged flexible straps of the present invention in a folded storage position with the free tip end portions extending through the locking box.

FIG. 2A is an enlarged view of the hinged portion of a flexible strap that is in the folded storage position.

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of disposable restraints showing the hinged flexible straps of the present invention in the extended position prior to tightening around the arms or wrists of a detainee.

FIG. 3A is an enlarged view of the hinged portion of a flexible strap that is in the extended position.

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of disposable restraints showing the hinged flexible straps of the present invention in the extended position tightened around the arms or wrists of a detainee.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, the improved disposable restraining device of the subject invention is generally designated by the numeral 14. The improved disposable restraining device 14 includes a first hinged flexible strap 16 and a second, separate hinged flexible strap 18 formed into two separate loops which are joined together by an interlocking cover 20.

In one embodiment of the invention, each hinged flexible strap 16 and 18 comprises an elongated, substantially flat strap having two ends. As shown in FIG. 1, each strap 16 and 18, has a free tip 22 and 24 at one end, and a locking box 26 and 28, at the other end. Each strap 16 and 18 is preferably made of an inexpensive, lightweight, strong, flexible, plastic material, similar to wire ties and bag ties, and the inner surface of each strap is lined with a plurality of saw tooth ribs 17.

As shown in FIG. 1, each locking box 26 and 28 is molded to extend perpendicularly from its respective flexible strap 16 and 18, thus forming an “L” shape so that in the assembled device, the flexible straps 16 and 18 extend in a vertical direction from the interlocking cover 20. Each locking box 26 and 28 has a top and a bottom having central openings 30 and 32, which respectively extend vertically through each box 26 and 28 and are adapted to receive the free tip end 22 and 24 of each hinged strap 16 and 18.

FIG. 1 also shows the interlocking cover 20 of the restraining device 14. The cover 20 includes a top wall 34, a bottom wall 36, opposite open ends 38 and 40 and a hollow interior 35. The top and bottom walls 34 and 36 include slots 42, for receiving the free tip end 22 of strap 16, and slots 44, for receiving the free tip end 24 of strap 18. The opposite open ends 38 and 40 of the cover 20 are adapted to receive the locking boxes 26 and 28. When assembled, the locking boxes 26 and 28 are inserted into the open ends 38 and 40 and the slots 42 and 44 are positioned to be in alignment with central openings 30 and 32, respectively.

Once it is positioned in the cover, the locking box 26 is locked in the hollow interior 35 of the cover 20 by threading the free tip end 16 through the slot 42 of the bottom wall 36, through the central opening 30 and through the slot 42 of the top wall 34 to form a first loop. Likewise, the locking box 28 is locked in place by threading the free tip end 18 through the slot 44 of the bottom wall 36, through the central opening 32 of the locking box 28 and through the slot 44 of the top wall 34 to form a second loop joined to the first loop by the cover 20. Thus, by inserting the locking boxes 26 and 28 into the cover 20 and threading the free tip ends 22 and 24 therethrough, the straps 16 and 18 are formed into two loops and the two looped straps are locked into the cover 20 to form the restraining device 14.

Hinges 23 and 25 are also shown in FIG. 1. Hinges 23 and 25 are formed within the flexible straps 16, 18 proximate the locking box 26, 28 such that hinges 23 and 25 provide increased flexibility between the end of flexible straps 16, 18 having the locking box 26, 28 and the remainder of the strap.

The hinged flexible straps of the assembled restraining device may be folded as shown in FIG. 2. In one embodiment, each of the hinged straps 16 and 18 include notches 54 for folding the straps into a compact storage position. As shown in FIG. 2, the notches 54 are positioned on each strap so that a center portion of the hinged straps may be folded inward toward the cover 20 to form a trifold without disassembling the loops. Thus, the restraining device 14 can be quickly and easily transformed from the compact, folded carrying position to the extended ready-for-use position by pulling the folded strap outward to fully extend the loops (see FIG. 3).

FIG. 2A is an enlarged view of the hinged portion 25 of a flexible strap 18 that is in the folded storage position. As illustrated in FIG. 2A, the hinge 25 is located proximate the bottom of the locking box 28. FIG. 2A illustrates that when the flexible straps 16 is in the compact folded position, as in FIG. 2, the outside angle between the end of the flexible strap 18 having the locking box 28 and the remainder of the flexible strap 18 is approximately 180 degrees. Although FIG. 2A shows only the relationship between hinge 25, flexible strap 18, and locking box 28 it is intended that alternate hinge 23, flexible strap 16 and locking box 26 have an identical relationship, albeit reversed, with each component having similar features to the respective components that are shown.

FIG. 3 shows disposable restraints having hinged flexible straps 16, 18 of the present invention where the loops formed by the straps are in the extended, ready-to-use position, just prior to tightening around the arms or wrists 60, 62 of a detainee. In this position, the closed loops formed by the flexible straps 16, 18 have been unfolded from their compact storage position, and placed around the arms or wrists 60, 62 of a detainee. FIG. 3 illustrates that the hinges 23 and 25 allow each of the flexible straps 16, 18 to bend in an outward direction, opposite their respective locking box 26, 28. These hinges 23, 25 allow the straps 16, 18 to bend at a predefined point that is proximate to the end of the strap having the locking box 26, 28.

FIG. 3A is an enlarged view of the hinge portion 23 of a flexible strap 16 that is in the unfolded ready-to-use position as illustrated in FIG. 3. As shown in FIG. 3A, when the flexible strap 16 is unfolded from its compact storage position, the hinge 23 permits the strap 16 to bend at a specific point in a direction away from the perpendicularly extending locking box 26 and interlocking cover 20. When the flexible strap 16 bends in this manner, the outside angle between the end of the strap having the locking box 26 and the remainder of the flexible strap 16 is an angle less than 180 degrees. By permitting the flexible strap 16 to bend in this manner, the closed loop formed by flexible strap 16 bends in a direction away from the perpendicularly extending locking box without having to be forced in such a direction by the arm or wrist of the detainee. Again, although FIG. 3A shows only the relationship between hinge 23, flexible strap 16, and locking box 26 it is intended that alternate hinge 25, flexible strap 18 and locking box 28 have an identical relationship with each component having identical characteristics to the counterpart component which is shown in FIG. 3A.

FIG. 4 illustrates disposable restraints 14 having hinged flexible straps 16, 18 of the present invention in the extended position and tightened around the arms or wrists of a detainee 60, 62. When the straps 16, 18 having hinges 23 and 25 are tightened, as shown in FIG. 4, the closed loops formed by the straps assume a shape that better corresponds to the outside contour of the detainee's arms or wrists 60, 62. The closed loops tighten in this manner because the hinges 23 and 25 allow the flexible straps 16, 18 to bend in an outward direction without placing undue force on certain portions of the arms or wrists 60, 62 of the detainee as they do in previous disposable restraints. The result, as shown in FIG. 4 is that when the flexible straps 16, 18 are fully tightened around the detainee's arms or wrists 60, 62, the arms and wrists of the detainee are positioned closer to the interlocking cover 20, such that there is little or no space under the flexible straps that could squeeze or pinch a portion of the detainee's skin or tissue. The hinges 23, 25 therefore allow the restraining device to be more comfortable and secure and less likely to cause a detainee to incur an unintended injury.

The presence of hinges 23, 25 on the flexible straps 16, 18 in an area that is proximate to the bottom of their respective locking boxes 26, 28 strengthens the closed loops by as much as 12% over prior restraints. Such increased strength is attributable to the fact that the hinged areas 23, 25 allows the straps 16, 18 to bend in a more uniform manner around the detainee's arms or wrists 60, 62. By altering the manner in which the flexible straps 16, 18 bend, the hinges allow the force caused by the bending of the straps 16, 18 to be distributed in a more uniform manner across the length of the straps 16, 18 as opposed to confining such force to a few distinct points along the straps.

While the hinged flexible straps 16 and 18 must be severed to remove the restraining device 14 from the detainee once it has been applied, it is an important feature of the subject invention that the cover 20 may be reused to form a new restraining device. Once the hinged straps are cut, the locking boxes 26 and 28 are no longer locked into the cover 20 and the straps may be easily removed and discarded. The restraining device may be reassembled using replacement hinged straps by inserting the locking boxes of the hinged straps into the cover 20 and threading the free tip ends there through to form two loops. Thus, the two hinged replacement straps are locked into the cover 20 to form the restraining device 14.

The present disclosure includes that which is contained in the appended claims, as well as that of the forgoing description. Although, this invention has been described in its preferred form with a certain degree of particularity, it is understood that the present disclosure of the preferred form has been made only by way of example, and that numerous changes in the details of the elements, compositions and the combination of individual ingredients may be resorted to without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention.