Title:
Anti-choking plate and method of preventing choking
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention in one embodiment is a dinner plate with a gauge in the form of a “test cylinder” or the outline of a ring attached to the plate that is used to gauge firm food size for children or other people susceptible to choking to keep them from choking on the firm food. In one embodiment, the “test cylinder” is molded into a child's dinner plate as a slightly raised ring on the surface of the plate. In another embodiment, a ring is printed on to the surface of the plate. The “test cylinder” and the printed ring may take a variety of shapes and sizes in addition to cylindrical or circular so long as they provide a gauge against which to measure the size of firm food that is intended to be eaten by the child or person susceptible to choking.



Inventors:
Zak, David F. (Buffalo, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/710292
Publication Date:
08/28/2008
Filing Date:
02/23/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G19/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David Zak (Rio Rancho, NM, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A device to assist in preventing choking on food comprising: a plate having a top surface with a protrusion that extends away from the top surface of the plate, the protrusion having an upper end.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein the protrusion extends away from the top surface of the plate at approximately a right angle.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein the inside diameter of the protrusion is about ½ inch.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein the protrusion extends from the top surface of the plate by an amount between about 0 to about 12 mm.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein the upper end of the protrusion is smooth and rounded.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein the plate is made of plastic.

7. The device of claim 1 wherein the plate is made of a material chosen from the group consisting of plastic, metal, ceramics, paper, cardboard or foam.

8. The device of claim 1 wherein the plate is molded and the protrusion is molded at the same time the plate is molded.

9. The device of claim 1 wherein the protrusion is made separately from the plate and attached to the top surface of the plate.

10. The device of claim 1 wherein the protrusion is located on the surface of the plate in a fashion to blend into the features or pictures found on the surface of the plate.

11. The device of claim 1 wherein the protrusion is located on the surface of the plate in a fashion to stand out so that the protrusion is clearly visible on the plate.

12. The device of claim 1 wherein the protrusion is cylindrical.

13. The device of claim 1 wherein the protrusion has a cross-sectional shape chosen from the group consisting of circular, oval, elliptical, egg shaped, square, rectangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal or other closed geometric shape, free form closed shape, the shape of a state, cartoon character, trademark symbol or other closed recognizable shape that is sized appropriately to serve as a gauge.

14. The device of claim 1 wherein the protrusion extends away from the top surface of the plate at approximately a right angle, wherein the inside diameter of the protrusion is about ½ inch, wherein the protrusion extends from the top surface of the plate by an amount between about 0 to about 12 mm, wherein the upper end of the protrusion is smooth and rounded and wherein the protrusion has a cross-sectional shape chosen from the group consisting of circular, oval, elliptical, egg shaped, square, rectangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal or other closed geometric shape, free form closed shape, the shape of a state, cartoon character, trademark symbol or other closed recognizable shape that is sized appropriately to serve as a gauge.

15. A device to assist in preventing choking on food comprising: a plate having a top surface with a printed ring located on the top surface, the printed ring having cross-sectional size whose inner diameter indicates the maximum size recommend to avoid choking.

16. The device of claim 15 wherein the inside diameter of the printed ring is about ½ inch.

17. The device of claim 15 wherein the plate is made of plastic.

18. The device of claim 15 wherein the plate is made of a material chosen from the group consisting of plastic, metal, ceramics, paper, cardboard or foam.

19. The device of claim 15 wherein the plate is molded and the printed ring is printed on or formed in the upper surface of the plate at the same time the plate is molded.

20. The device of claim 15 wherein the printed ring is attached to or made in the plate after the plate has been made.

21. The device of claim 15 wherein the printed ring is located on the surface of the plate in a fashion to blend into the features or pictures found on the surface of the plate.

22. The device of claim 15 wherein the printed ring is located on the surface of the plate in a fashion to stand out so that the printed ring is clearly visible on the plate.

23. The device of claim 15 wherein the printed ring has a cross-sectional shape chosen from the group consisting of circular, oval, elliptical, egg shaped, square, rectangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal or other closed geometric shape, free form closed shape, the shape of a state, cartoon character, trademark symbol or other closed recognizable shape that is sized appropriately to serve as a gauge.

24. The device of claim 15 wherein the inside diameter of the printed ring is about ½ inch wherein the printed ring has a cross-sectional shape chosen from the group consisting of circular, oval, elliptical, egg shaped, square, rectangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal or other closed geometric shape, free form closed shape, the shape of a state, cartoon character, trademark symbol or other closed recognizable shape that is sized appropriately to serve as a gauge.

25. A device to assist in preventing choking on food comprising: a member chosen from the group consisting of a plate, a gauge separate from the plate, a high chair tray or a placemat, the member having a top surface with means for determining whether the size of food that is intended to be eaten is within a prescribed size, the means chosen from a group consisting of a protrusion that extends away from the top surface of the member or a printed ring that is located on or in the top surface of the member.

26. A method of preventing choking on food comprising the steps of: providing a plate having a top surface with a protrusion that extends away from the top surface of the plate; placing food in the protrusion; determining whether the food fits within the protrusion; resizing or discarding the food is it is larger than the protrusion; and allowing the food to be eaten if the food fits within the protrusion.

27. A method of preventing choking on food comprising the steps of: providing a plate having a top surface with a printed ring located on the top surface of the plate; placing food in the protrusion; determining whether the food fits within the protrusion; resizing or discarding the food is it is larger than the protrusion; and allowing the food to be eaten if the food fits within the protrusion.

28. A method of preventing choking on food by those with vision impairment comprising the steps of: providing a plate having a top surface with a protrusion that extends away from the top surface of the plate, the protrusion having an upper end; feeling the upper end of the protrusion to form a mental picture of the acceptable size of firm food.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is directed to devices and methods for helping to prevent choking on food by small children while eating.

2. Description of Related Art

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 75 children under the age of 14 die every year from choking on food items and 100 times that number are treated in emergency rooms for such choking. In 2001, for example more than 10,000 children ages 14 or younger were treated in US emergency rooms for choking on food.

The highest rate of fatal choking incidents occurs in children under two years old. However, children up to 4 years are all particularly vulnerable to choking on food because the do not have a full set of teeth. They cannot chew as well as older children and large chunks of hard foods can more easily become lodged in their throats causing choking. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Food and Drug Administration recommend that children younger than four years old not be fed any round, firm food unless it is cut into small pieces no larger than one-half inch across.

Consequently, it is highly desirable to provide a device that helps parents or others feeding children, particularly small children, prevent the child from choking on food. In view of the foregoing, it can be seen that there is a need for such a device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention in one embodiment is a dinner plate with a gauge in the form of a “test cylinder” or the outline of a ring attached to the plate that is used to gauge firm food size for children or other people susceptible to choking to keep them from choking on the firm food. In one embodiment, the “test cylinder” is molded into a child's dinner plate as a slightly raised ring on the surface of the plate. In another embodiment, a ring is printed on or in the surface of the plate. The “test cylinder” and the printed ring may take a variety of shapes and sizes in addition to cylindrical or circular so long as they provide a gauge against which to measure the size of firm food that is intended to be eaten by the child or person susceptible to choking.

There are many objects of the present invention in its various embodiments that may be addressed individually or in combinations and permutations. Each embodiment may address one or several of the following objectives.

An object of this invention in one embodiment or variant of the invention is to provide a visual means against which to gauge the size of a firm food particle so as to ascertain whether the firm food particle is too large to be safely eaten.

Another object of the present invention in one embodiment or variant of the invention is to provide a tactile means against which to gauge the size of a firm food particle so as to ascertain whether the firm food particle is too large to be safely eaten.

These and other objects and advantages of the invention will be clear in view of the following description to the invention including the associated drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be described hereafter in detail with particular reference to the drawings. Throughout this description, like elements, in whatever embodiment described, refer to common elements wherever referred to and referenced by the same reference number. The characteristics, attributes, functions, interrelations ascribed to a particular element in one location apply to that element when referred to by the same reference number in another location unless specifically stated otherwise. All Figures are drawn for ease of explanation of the basic teachings of the present invention only; the extensions of the Figures with respect to number, position, relationship, and dimensions of the parts to form the preferred embodiment will be explained or will be within the skill of the art after the following description has been read and understood. Further, the exact dimensions and dimensional proportions to conform to specific force, weight, strength and similar requirements will likewise be within the skill of the art after the following description has been read and understood.

FIG. 1 is a top view of one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a side cross-sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1 in use with a particle of firm food.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention in one embodiment is shown in FIG. 1 generally labeled 10 as the combination of a child's plate 12 having a top surface 14 with a cylindrical protrusion 16 that extends away from top surface 14 of the plate 12 at approximately a right angle. The cylindrical protrusion 16 has an upper end 18. The cylindrical protrusion 16 allows firm food that is desired to be measured to be placed within the cylindrical protrusion 16. If the firm food does not fit within this cylindrical protrusion 14, this indicates that the firm food is too large to be eaten by the child. On the other hand, if the firm food fits within the cylindrical protrusion 14, this indicates that the food is of a size that should be safe for the child to eat.

The cylindrical protrusion 16 has a diameter preferably corresponding to the maximum size of firm food particle recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Food and Drug Administration for children to eat in order to avoid choking on the food particle. In the most preferred embodiment, the inside diameter of the cylindrical protrusion 16 is about ½″ although it may be smaller or larger depending on the age of the child.

The cylindrical protrusion 16 preferably extends only a small distance above the surface 14 of the plate 12. In this way, the food may be placed within and contained within the cylindrical protrusion 16 to allow for accurate measurement of the size of the food particle. In this embodiment, if the food particle is too large to fit within the cylindrical protrusion 16 it is too large to be ingested by the child. In the most preferred embodiment of the cylindrical protrusion 16, cylindrical protrusion 16 extends above the surface 14 of the plate 12 by an amount about equal to between about 0-12 mm and more particularly between about 1 mm to about 5 mm. However, the cylindrical protrusion 16 may extend away from service of the plate 12 by more or less than these amounts. Because the cylindrical protrusion 16 extends above the surface 14 of the plate 12 but only a small amount, it will be relatively easy to clean the cylindrical protrusion 16. Further, cylindrical protrusion 16 allows a child or someone attempting to feed the child the ability to gauge the maximum size of food particle allowed to be eaten by feeling the outer periphery of the cylindrical protrusion 16 and developing a mental picture of the size of such food particles. The tactile aspect of this embodiment may be particularly useful for helping the sight impaired avoid choking on overly large firm food.

The upper end 18 of the cylindrical protrusion 16 should be smooth and rounded in order to make it unlikely to catch or trap food within the cylindrical protrusion 16. As a result, the addition of a cylindrical protrusion 16 to plate 12 should not hinder the ability to easily and safely clean the plate 12.

In this embodiment, particularly where the plate 12 is made of plastic, the cylindrical protrusion 16 may be molded into the plate 12 at the same time as the plate 12 is made or the cylindrical protrusion 16 may be made separately and attached to the surface 14 of the plate 12 by means well understood in the art including, but not limited to, heat staking, adhesives or ultrasonic welding. The cylindrical protrusion 16 could be blended into the features or pictures found on plates 12, especially children's plates. Further, the cylindrical protrusion may be colored separately from the top surface 14 of the plate 12 or the patterns found on the top surface 14 of the plate 12 or located away from the patterns, if any, found on the top surface 14 of the plate 12 in order to be more clearly visible or stand out on the plate 12.

In another embodiment of the invention, the plate 12 has a printed ring 20 instead of a cylindrical protrusion 16. The printed ring 20 preferably has a circular shape of about the same size as the cross-section of the cylindrical protrusion 16. But, instead of extending away from the top surface of the plate 12, the printed ring 20 is printed on or in the top surface 14 of the plate 12 by means well known and understood in the art for printing designs and other patterns or features on plates. The printed ring 20 may also be formed in the plate 12 at the time the plate 12 is made or attached to formed on or in the top surface after the plate 12 is made so that the printed ring 20 is visible on the top surface 14 of the plate 12.

The cylindrical protrusion 16 or printed ring 20 have been described as having a cylindrical or circular shape, respectively. However, either the cylindrical protrusion 16 or printed ring 20 may have shapes other than cylindrical or circular, respectively, so long as the cylindrical protrusion 16 or printed ring 20 serves to gauge or measure the appropriate size of firm food particles that should be allowed to be eaten. For example, and without intending to limit the scope of potential shapes for the cylindrical protrusion 16 or printed ring 20, the cylindrical protrusion 16 may have a cross-sectional shape that is oval, elliptical, egg shaped, square, rectangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal or other closed geometric shaped cylinder or the printed ring 20 may have an oval, elliptical, egg, square, rectangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal or other closed geometric shape. Further, either the cylindrical protrusion 16 or printed ring 20 may have a cross-sectional shape that is a free form closed shape of the shape of a state, cartoon character, trademark symbol or other closed recognizable shape that is sized appropriately to serve as the gauge described herein.

Although plate 12 has been described as being a common child's plate molded from plastic, plate 12 may also be any other kind of played made from whatever rigid material including but not limited to metal, ceramics, paper, cardboard or foam. Further, although both the cylindrical protrusion 16 and the printed ring 20 have been described as being used with the plate 12, in all its different forms, both the cylindrical protrusion 16 and the printed ring 20 may be used with or applied to other objects. Such objects are preferably associated with or are located near where a child would be eating. Examples of such objects include, but are not limited to, a gauge separate from the plate 12, a high chair tray or a placemat.

To use the plate 12 in either embodiment of the invention, food to be measured is placed in either the cylindrical protrusion 16 or the printed ring 20. If the food is larger than the cylindrical protrusion 16 or printed ring 20, the food is too large to be fed to the child or other person susceptible to choking and should be resized by cutting it into smaller pieces or discarded.

In addition, the cylindrical protrusion 16 or printed ring 20 have been described as being associated with helping to prevent choking in children. However, the invention may have applicability in helping youths or adults avoid choking on food particles particularly where the youths or adults may have a disability or problem eating that makes them more susceptible than usual to choking on overly large firm food particles.

It is believed that the cylindrical protrusion 16 or printed ring 20 could be incorporated into or attached to a plate 12 or other object as described above at virtually no additional cost. As a result, it is believed that the addition of such a cylindrical protrusion 14 or printed ring 20 would be readily available to help prevent choking on overly large firm food particles by children, youth and adults who are susceptible to choking on such food particles.

The present invention has been described in connection with certain embodiments, configurations and relative dimensions. However, description above is not to be construed as being absolutely particular. It is to be understood that the description given herein has been given for the purpose of explaining and illustrating the invention and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. For example, the specific dimensions of the cylindrical protrusion 16 or printed ring 20 may be varied so long as the dimensions of the cylindrical protrusion 16 or printed ring 20 provide the function of providing a gauge against which firm food particles may be measured. Also, there are many materials and configurations that can be used in constructing the invention by those skilled in the art including those being developed or that will be developed. In addition, it is clear than an almost infinite number of minor variations to the form and function of the disclosed invention could be made and also still be within the scope of the invention. Consequently, it is not intended that the invention be limited to the specific embodiments and variants of the invention disclosed. It is to be further understood that changes and modifications to the descriptions given herein will occur to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the scope of the invention should be limited only by the scope of the claims.





 
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