Title:
DEVICE FOR REMOVING DIRTY SHOE COVERS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device provides for safely and hygienically removing and temporarily storing dirty shoe covers, and includes a container which has first and second sides, a top, and a bottom. A handle is provided as a help for a user to balance themselves while using the container. At least one opening is provided in one of the sides, to accept a foot of a user having a shoe and shoe cover. A lower end of the opening includes an internally facing protruding member or peg which is inclined inwardly and downwardly, and is used to pry off a dirty shoe cover which, when removed, then drops down into a trash bag located in the bottom of the container.



Inventors:
Ronning, Wade (Proctor, MN, US)
Application Number:
12/018667
Publication Date:
07/24/2008
Filing Date:
01/23/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/363, 220/661, 220/676
International Classes:
B65D43/14; B65D6/40; B65D25/00; B65D83/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WALKER, NED ANDREW
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
IP Law Leaders PLLC (PLG) (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for removing shoe covers, comprising: a container having a top, a bottom, and a plurality of walls bounding an interior region; an opening formed in one of walls, the opening having a lowermost edge portion; a protruding member disposed adjacent the lowermost edge portion of the opening; whereby in use a foot having a shoe and shoe cover is disposed passing through the opening into the interior region of the container abutting the protruding member, so that upon withdrawal of the foot and shoe from the interior region the shoe cover is retained by the protruding member such that the shoe cover is removed.

2. A device for removing shoe covers as claimed in claim 1, wherein the opening is rectangular in shape.

3. A device for removing shoe covers as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a waste tray disposed in the interior region at the bottom of the container.

4. A device for removing shoe covers as claimed in claim 1, wherein the protruding member is a peg which is generally shaped as a right rectangular solid.

5. A device for removing shoe covers as claimed in claim 1, wherein the protruding member is formed of a resilient material.

6. A device for removing shoe covers as claimed in claim 1, wherein the protruding member is formed of rubber.

7. A device for removing shoe covers as claimed in claim 1, wherein the container has four upstanding walls.

8. A device for removing shoe covers as claimed in claim 1, wherein the container has more than four upstanding walls.

9. A device for removing shoe covers as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a detecting device disposed adjacent the protruding member for detecting a shoe cover which is stuck to the protruding member.

10. A device for removing shoe covers as claimed in claim 9, further comprising an indicating device for indicating actuation of the detecting device.

11. A device for removing shoe covers as claimed in claim 1, wherein the container further comprises a bottom compartment having an air circulation path in communication with the interior region of the container; a fan; and a filter for filtering air moved by the fan out of the bottom compartment.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/886,289, filed Jan. 23, 2007.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to an apparatus for removing used and dirty shoe covers. More particularly, this invention is directed to an apparatus or device for safely and hygienically removing and for temporarily storing dirty shoe covers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

As noted in U.S. Pat. No. 4,304,021, the ever-increasing demands in hospital and clean room environments have promulgated the use of disposable shoe covers. For example, disposable shoe covers are used by operating room staff to help prevent the spread of microorganisms, such as unwanted bacteria, into operating rooms where they might otherwise lead to infections in patients undergoing surgery.

While disposable shoe covers go on clean, they come off dirty and are frequently contaminated with blood and floor residue thereby constituting a biohazard. Hand contact with dirty and contaminated shoe covers is best avoided to prevent unwanted spread of disease causing bacteria. However, some tired or careless surgical staff sometimes employ their ungloved or otherwise unprotected hands to remove dirty shoe covers, particularly in locker rooms when readying to go home.

Still more disturbing, there is also a risk of staff members walking in bare feet in a dressing area where shoe covers are removed, in which case the contaminated shoe covers will have tracked blood, germs and detritus onto the floor where staff members may walk. There is a further risk that dirty shoe covers may be incorrectly deposited in trash bins not designated to hold biohazard wastes nor intended for use for temporarily storing dirty shoe covers, in which case there is the risk that biohazard materials may be mixed in with ordinary trash.

There is therefore a need for an apparatus or device for safely and hygienically removing dirty shoe covers. Further, there is a need for an apparatus or device for safely and hygienically removing and temporarily storing dirty shoe covers.

It is accordingly a problem in the prior art to provide a device for removing and storing dirty shoe covers, which is relatively inexpensive and relatively easy to use and install.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

From the foregoing, it is seen that it is a problem in the art to provide a device meeting the above requirements. According to the present invention, a device is provided which meets the aforementioned requirements and needs in the prior art. Specifically, the device according to the present invention provides an apparatus or device for safely and hygienically removing dirty shoe covers. Further, the device is relatively inexpensive and relatively easy to use and install.

The device according to the present invention includes a housing having at least one aperture for entry of a shoe having a shoe cover thereon, a peg protruding into the interior of the housing in the vicinity of the lowermost edge of the aperture for gripping and dislodging a shoe cover from a shoe.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will be more readily apparent from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is perspective view of a device for safely and hygienically removing and temporarily storing dirty shoe covers, according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a device similar to that shown in FIG. 1, for safely and hygienically removing and temporarily storing dirty shoe covers according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows a receptacle having a plastic covering for use in the device of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 4 is a schematic top elevational view of an alternative embodiment of the device of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 5 is an alternative embodiment of a wall portion forming an indented portion over an the upper end of an opening, for use in the device of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5, showing the indented portion of the wall.

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the device of FIG. 1 taken horizontally downwardly in a plane containing the lowermost edges of the openings, showing detector elements and an indicator element.

FIG. 8 is a schematic side view of an alternative embodiment of the device of FIG. 1, showing a fan and filter arrangement.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a protruding member usable for removing shoe covers.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of another alternative embodiment of a protruding member usable for removing shoe covers.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of one opening accommodating a person's shoe-cladded foot, and shows a shoe protected by a dirty or used shoe cover.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is perspective view of a device 100 for safely and hygienically removing and temporarily storing dirty shoe covers S (shown in FIG. 11). The device 100 includes a container 120. The container 120 includes first and second sides 124 and 128, top 132, and bottom 136. A handle is labeled in FIG. 1, and such handle is intended as a help for a user to balance themselves while using the container 120, and also as a lifting handle when moving the container 120 from one location to another.

Still referring to FIG. 1, the container 120 defines at least one opening 140 (represented by openings 200 and 220 in FIG. 1). Each opening 140 is dimensioned so as to accommodate a person's footwear and more particularly a staff member's shoe-cladded foot F, and still more particularly a shoe S (shown in FIG. 11) protected by a dirty or used shoe cover 480 (likewise shown in FIG. 11). The at least one opening 140 includes a lower side 160 fitted with an internally facing protruding member or peg 180. The peg 180 is inclined inwardly and downwardly with respect to the opening 140. The peg 180 is used to pry off a dirty shoe cover 480 which, when removed, then drops down into a trash bag or trash box (or similar trash receptacle) located in the bottom 136 of the container 120.

To remove a shoe cover 480, a staff member places each foot F having a shoe S thereon into the opening 140 at an angle to ensure that the rear part of the shoe cover 480 abuts against the peg 180. The shoe cover 480 is then hands-free pried off using peg 180 during withdrawal of the foot F from the container 120, so that the shoe cover 480 then drops down into the bottom of the container 120 and more particularly drops down into a trash bag located in the bottom of the container 120. Thus, a staff member can dispose of their shoe covers 480 without using their hands and without having to pick up the used shoe cover 480 and accordingly without having to place it in a separate assigned receptacle.

In one embodiment the at least one opening 140 is in the form of first and second openings 200 and 220 (see FIG. 2). In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the container 120 bears indicia that includes the word BIOHAZARD. Other indicia can be used as well, such as instructions to remove shoe covers.

The container 120 is preferably constructed of a low cost material such as plastic, but can also be made of stainless steel, aluminum, or other material. The trash bag is preferably plastic, and covers a plastic pan 460 (shown in FIG. 3).

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a device 100 similar to that shown in FIG. 1, for safely and hygienically removing and temporarily storing dirty shoe covers according to the present invention. The device of FIG. 2 has different dimensions from those of FIG. 1, however such dimensions are intended for illustration only and can be varied according to taste and need so as to fit readily, for example, in a corner of a locker room (not shown), a corridor location near an operating room, and so on. For example, in one preferred embodiment, the container 120 has a height of forty inches, a width of twenty-four inches, and a depth of twenty-four inches; and the opening 140 is sixteen inches in height and twenty-four inches in depth.

FIG. 3 shows a receptacle having a plastic covering 440 such as a trash bag. In this view, the covering 440 is shown covering a tray 460, for use in the device 100 of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 4 is a schematic top elevational view of an alternative embodiment of the device 100′ of FIGS. 1 and 2. In this view, the container has a six sided shape, and each side has an opening 140′, to accommodate more users than the device 100 of FIG. 1. Other shapes can be used, regular and irregular. Additionally, while the opening 140 is shown as being generally rectangular, other shapes can be used including circular, oval, diamond-shaped, and so on.

FIG. 5 is an alternative embodiment of a wall portion of a wall 124″ forming an indented portion 240 over an the upper end of an opening 140″, for use in the device 100 of FIGS. 1 and 2. The indented portion 240 facilitates entry of a leg of a user. The indented portion 240 has a generally cone-shaped configuration.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5, showing the indented portion 240. This view shows the conical shape clearly.

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the device 100 of FIG. 1 taken horizontally downwardly in a plane containing the lowermost edges of the openings 140, showing detector elements 260 and 280, and an indicator element 440. The detector elements 260 can, for example, be microwave emitters, and the elements 280 in this case would be microwave detectors. When the path is broken between one element 260 and the corresponding element 280, such as by a hanging shoe cover S which is stuck to the peg 180, the indicator 440 is activated. The indicator 440 can be a lighted flasher, or a sounding device such as a beeper. The breaking of the microwave path can also trigger a device for automatically removing the shoe cover S from the peg 180, such as the air flow device shown in FIG. 8. While microwave emitters and detectors are mentioned, it will be understood that any type of detectors can be used, such as light detectors, radio signal detectors, LED detectors, and so on. Additionally, instead of pairs of emitters and detectors, a single proximity detecting element which both sends and receives can be used, such devices being well known for controlling water fixtures and faucets.

FIG. 8 is a schematic side view of an alternative embodiment of the device 100 of FIG. 1, showing a fan 320 and a filter arrangement 340 in a base 300. In this embodiment, air is gently moved through an aperture or apertures in the bottom surface of the device 100, and redirected out of the device 100 through an aperture in the base 300 by the fan 320. A power supply such as a solar power panel, wall socket, or battery can be used to power the fan. The fan 320 can be selectively activated, such as by a signal from a device such as that shown in FIG. 7 that a shoe cover S is stuck on one of the pegs 180. The air flow caused by actuation of the fan 320 will urge the shoe cover S off of the peg 180.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a protruding member or peg 180′ usable for removing shoe covers S. In this embodiment, the member 180′ has a plurality of round projections 380 thereon. These projections 380 assist in gripping the shoe cover S when in use. Other embodiments are also contemplated for the member or peg 180′, such as an anti-friction coating, or an electrostatic feature such as provided in home-cleaning dust cloth products.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of another alternative embodiment of a protruding member or peg 180″ usable for removing shoe covers. Here, the member or peg 180″ has a solid portion 400 and a fringed portion 420 formed by cutting of the member 180″ into a plurality of parallel strips.

The invention being thus described, it will be evident that the same may be varied in many ways by a routineer in the applicable arts. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the claims.