Title:
PERSONAL DEBRIS SHIELD AND SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A personal debris shield for use as a personal protection device to protect against falling or wind-driven debris, such as during a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or the like, includes a body-conforming impact absorption shield that may be quickly positioned over a user's body and that may be removed and/or jettisoned if needed.



Inventors:
Montgomery, Michael (Marietta, GA, US)
Application Number:
12/118825
Publication Date:
12/11/2008
Filing Date:
05/12/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/455, 2/467
International Classes:
A41D13/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050081276Multi-person garmentApril, 2005Reynolds
20040163159Apparel accessory for trousersAugust, 2004Edwards et al.
20060107432Protective hand shieldMay, 2006Cicero
20060117451Quilted kneepads integral to a child's garmentJune, 2006Sciortino
20090205106WRIST BANDAugust, 2009Sohn
20080271219Glove reinforcement and method thereofNovember, 2008Homer
20060005305Energy absorbing garmentJanuary, 2006Haskell
20050125877Disposable nonwoven mitt adapted to fit on a child's handJune, 2005Benjamin et al.
20050193478Goggle attachment systemSeptember, 2005Hussey
20060185051Spectacles for a helmet and helmet fitted with said spectaclesAugust, 2006Teston et al.
20070250982INCLEMENT WEATHER GARMENT FOR SPORTING FUNCTIONSNovember, 2007Norman



Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mike Montgomery (Marietta, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is at least:

1. A protection device for preventing injury to a user comprising: a body having a shape generally conformal to a back of the user, including at least one handle accessible at one of the user's chest and the user's shoulder.

2. The protection device of claim 1, wherein said body comprises a stiff member and a resilient material.

3. The protection device of claim 1, wherein said body comprises at least one of a shoulder extension, a neck projection, and an abdomen extension.

4. The protection device of claim 1, further comprising a locating device.

5. The protection device of claim 4, wherein said locating device comprises at least one of a whistle and a light.

6. The protection device of claim 1, wherein said body comprises a buoyant material.

7. The protection device of claim 1, further comprising a survival kit comprising at least one of a food item, a beverage, a tool, a medication, and a bandage.

8. The protection device of claim 1, wherein said body is adapted for stacking with other protection devices in a nested arrangement.

9. A survival system comprising: a protection device comprising a body having a shape generally conformal to a back of a user; and a locating device.

10. The survival system of claim 9, wherein said body comprises a stiff member and a resilient material.

11. The survival system of claim 9, further comprising at least one of a food item, a beverage, a tool, a medication, and a bandage.

12. The survival system of claim 9, wherein said body comprises at least one of a shoulder extension, a neck projection, and an abdomen extension.

13. The survival system of claim 9, wherein said protection device further comprises at least one of a whistle and a light.

14. The survival system of claim 9, wherein said locating device comprises at least one of a whistle and a light.

15. A method of using a protection device to protect an individual comprising the steps of: disposing a body of said protection device over a back of the individual; and retaining said protection device over said back of the individual via at least one of a handle and a strap accessible at a front of the individual.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of activating a locating device of said protection device.

17. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of jettisoning said protection device via releasing said at least one of said handle and said strap.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein said protection device comprises a buoyant material, and further comprising the step of assisting the individual to float via said buoyant material.

19. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of obtaining said protection device from a stack of protection devices.

20. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of selecting said protection device from a plurality of protection devices, wherein said plurality of protection devices comprises at least one first protection device having a first size and at least one second protection device having a second size.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

The present non-provisional United States patent application is related to, and hereby claims priority to and the full benefit of, United States provisional application entitled “Personal Debris Shield and System” filed on Jun. 6, 2007 on behalf of Michael Montgomery, and having assigned Ser. No. 60/933,396.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates generally to personal protection devices, and more specifically, to a personal debris shield and system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Over time, a wide variety of personal protection devices have been developed in order to prevent all manner of injuries. Many of these may be described as garments, intended to be worn by a user. Of such devices, helmets are demonstrative examples; they are designed to prevent injury to one of the most important and vulnerable parts of the body, the head. Helmets are designed to generally encase at least a portion of the head of the user, and attach thereto, such as with a chin strap, to prevent unwanted removal or dislodgement. Helmets and other such garments function well for the purpose of preventing injuries, such as blunt trauma, lacerations, and punctures, but disadvantageously protect only a limited part of the body and restrict motion thereof. As such, to obtain protection for multiple parts of the body, a user must obtain and don a plurality of garments, each designed to protect a specific area of the body. This process is time-consuming, and not practical in emergency situations. In any event, the mobility of the user may be severely limited by such garments while worn, thus discouraging use and potentially placing the user in harm's way.

Some devices have been developed that protect multiple body parts, such as a bullet-proof vest which protects both a chest and a back of the user. Another device is a helmet with a projection for protecting a neck of the user. While these devices have succeeded in increasing a protected area of the user's body while eliminating the need for multiple garments, they have done so at the further cost of mobility, and at the cost of ease of use. Taking the helmet with neck protection as an example, a user's range of motion in the neck is greatly reduced due to the impingement of the projection on the user's neck, back, and/or shoulders. Thus, while the user's neck may at least sometimes be protected, the user may be in a worse position overall due to the user's inability or reduced ability to detect and avoid dangers, caused by the limitation in the user's motion associated with the projection. Similarly, a conventional vest increases an area of the body protected by the device, but requires the user to pull the vest over the head and arms, and to secure the vest. As such, the user's ability to quickly don the vest and the user's ability to remove and/or jettison the vest is greatly reduced.

Thus, it is readily apparent that there exists an unmet need for a personal debris shield to protect against blunt trauma, lacerations, punctures, or the like, that may be donned quickly and easily in an emergency situation, and that reduces an adverse impact on the user's mobility and ability to quickly and easily remove and/or jettison the device.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly described, in a preferred embodiment, the device and system of the present disclosure overcome the above-mentioned disadvantages and meet the recognized need for such a device and system, and associated methods, by providing a personal debris shield that conforms to a user's body, preferably a user's back, neck, and head, to protect same from injury from falling, wind-driven, or other projectile debris, such as may encountered in a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or the like.

The device preferably includes a force absorbing material, a stiff material, a puncture and/or laceration resistant material, combinations thereof, or the like, and is preferably adapted to be held in place and/or worn as a garment, whereby the device may quickly and easily be donned and removed for use. Thus, the device may preferably be held in place covering a back, neck, and/or head of the user, whereby the device may be removed in a situation in which it may be a hindrance, such as during running, crawling, swimming, or the like, and whereby the device may be secured to the user, such as via straps, clips, belts, or the like, such as for use as a flotation device or to prevent loss thereof.

According to its major aspects and broadly stated, the present invention, in its preferred form, is a personal debris shield comprising a body conforming to the back of a user and including at least one extension traversing the user's shoulders, whereby the user may preferably retain the shield covering the user's back via holding the extension, or by holding a strap or handle operable with the extension. The body preferably includes a stiff member, such as a sheet of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polycarbonate, polymethylmethacrylate, carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, fiberglass, or the like. Such stiff member preferably defines a shape that is generally conformal to a back of user, and may be formed by stamping, molding, casting, machining, extrusion, combinations thereof, or the like. The stiff member preferably functions to prevent debris from piercing therethrough; thereby, reducing a risk of puncture and/or laceration wounds to a user. The stiff member preferably further functions to distribute a force of an impact over a larger portion of the user's body; thereby, reducing a pressure of the impact, and, thus, reducing a risk of blunt trauma, crushing injuries, or the like. In order to improve user comfort and to facilitate conformance of the device to a user's body, the stiff member may include corrugations, creases, folds, hinged or separate sections, or the like, to allow sufficient flexibility of the device.

The body preferably further comprises a force-absorbing or shock-absorbing material, such as a foam, gel, batting, or the like. The force-absorbing material is preferably resilient, whereby multiple forces, such as debris impact forces, may be absorbed; thereby, reducing an amount of force experienced by a user of the debris shield. The resilient force-absorbing material is preferably disposed at least over a portion of an internal surface of the stiff member proximate the user's back, whereby forces imparted to the stiff member, such as by debris, are preferably at least partially absorbed thereby. The resilient force-absorbing material may further be disposed over a portion of an external surface of the stiff member to further reduce forces imparted to a user wearing the debris shield. The resilient material may further impart buoyancy to the debris shield, such that the debris shield may be used as a flotation device.

The body may further include a durable exterior surface, such as a fabric or sheet preferably covering substantially an entire exterior thereof. The durable exterior surface may be formed of nylon, polypropylene, polyamides, such as poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide, polyesters, canvas, leather, or the like and preferably resists scratches, tears, cuts, punctures, abrasions, or the like. The exterior surface, as well as the stiff material and/or the resilient material, may preferably be flame-retardant or fire-retardant and/or water-resistant, such that the debris shield is durable even in extreme situations that may be encountered during an emergency situation.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, the body preferably further includes an arcuate projection extending from an area proximate the extensions so as to at least partially encircle and cover the user's neck when the shield is retained covering the user's back. The arcuate projection may be formed of such shape and dimension that some or all of a back of the user's head may preferably likewise be encircled and covered, and thus protected. The stiff member preferably extends into the arcuate projection such that forces imparted thereto may be at least partially borne by the back of the user and/or absorbed by the resilient material. Similarly, sides of the body may preferably extend around the ribs and abdomen of the user to provide protection therefor.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, the debris shield may include one or more survival/rescue tools or devices, such as a locating device, an illumination device, a signaling device, one or more tools, first-aid supplies, nutrients, or the like. For example, a radio, satellite, or cellular locating device, a horn, a siren, a whistle, a light beacon, or the like may be included either separately or integrally with the debris shield so as to facilitate location of the user during or after an emergency. Additionally or alternatively, the debris shield may include a flashlight and/or a lantern therewith as part of a survival system. Similarly, one or more of a variety of tools, such as a knife, a saw, matches, or the like, and/or food, water, water treatments, dietary supplements, medicines, bandages, disinfectants, or the like may optionally be included with the device as part of the survival system.

Furthermore, multiple devices may be stacked to facilitate efficient storage thereof until use.

Accordingly, one feature and advantage of the device is its ability to provide a personal debris shield that is capable of protecting a user from injury, such as from falling, wind-driven, or other projectile debris.

Another feature and advantage of the device is its ability to be quickly donned and removed, even by injured or handicapped individuals.

Yet another feature and advantage of the device is its ability to provide a survival system, such as for use in an emergency situation, that provides protection from physical injury and facilitates survival and rescue during and after such an emergency situation.

These and other features and advantages of the device and system of the present disclosure will become more apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art after reading the following Detailed Description of the Invention and Claims in light of the accompanying drawing Figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Accordingly, the present disclosure will be understood best through consideration of, and with reference to, the following drawing Figures, viewed in conjunction with the Detailed Description referring thereto, in which like reference numbers throughout the various Figures designate like structure and in which:

FIG. 1A is a front perspective view of a personal debris shield system;

FIG. 1B is back perspective view of the personal debris shield of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2 is a partial cross-sectional view of the personal debris shield of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of an alternate personal debris shield system; and

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the personal debris shield system of FIG. 3 shown in use.

It is to be noted that the drawings presented are intended solely for the purpose of illustration and that they are, therefore, neither desired nor intended to limit the invention to any or all of the exact details of construction shown, except insofar as they may be deemed essential to the claimed invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In describing preferred embodiments of the present invention illustrated in the Figures, specific terminology is employed for the sake of clarity. The claimed invention, however, is not intended to be limited to the specific terminology so selected, and it is to be understood that each specific element includes all technical equivalents that operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose.

Now referring to FIGS. 1A-3, personal debris shield 100 is usable to protect a wearer against injury, such as that caused by falling, wind-driven, or other projectile debris. Personal debris shield 100 preferably comprises body 110 including shoulder extensions 111, neck projection 113, and abdomen extensions 115. Body 110 preferably includes a shape that is generally conformal to the back of a user, and may preferably also be generally conformal to the neck, head, shoulders, and/or ribs of a user. Body 110 preferably has sufficient structure to generally maintain such conformal shape, at least when unstressed. As best seen with reference to FIG. 2, such structure is preferably provided by at least one of stiff member 210, resilient material 310, and covering 410. Nonetheless, body 110 is preferably at least partially flexible, whereby some adjustment in the shape thereof is possible to facilitate conformance of body 110 to the body of a user. Particularly, shoulder extensions 111, neck projection 113, and/or abdomen extensions 115 are at least partially flexible to allow a user to easily don and remove personal debris shield 100.

Preferably, stiff member 210 is formed as one or more polymeric sheet or member that is molded or otherwise formed to include the generally conformal shape, such that stiff member 210 preferably provides sufficient structure to give body 110 the generally conformal shape. Stiff member 210 is preferably formed from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic, although other suitable materials, such as polycarbonate, polymethylmethacrylate, carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, fiberglass, or the like may alternatively be used. Stiff member 210 preferably further functions to prevent debris from causing puncture and/or laceration injuries to a user by preventing contact between a user and such debris. Thus, stiff member 210 preferably resists punctures, cuts, or the like, whereby falling, wind-driven, or other projectile debris that strikes stiff member 210 preferably does not pass therethrough. Stiff member 210 preferably further functions to reduce or prevent blunt trauma injury to a user caused by falling or wind-driven debris striking personal debris shield 100 by distributing, at least partially, an impact force of such debris over a larger area of the user's body; thereby, reducing impact pressure. Specifically, stiff member 210 preferably so reduces a pressure of an impact by resisting deformation, whereby a portion of the impact force is distributed over other areas of the user's body covered by personal debris shield 100 in addition to those areas proximate the impact site.

Stiff member 210 may be formed to enable partial flexibility of shoulder extensions 111, neck projection 113, and abdomen extensions 115. Specifically, stiff member 210 may not extend into shoulder extensions 111. Alternatively, stiff member 210 may be corrugated, hinged, have reduced thickness, or the like, to allow increased flexibility thereof in shoulder extensions 211. Stiff member 210 is may further have increased flexibility, i.e. may be provided with corrugations, hinged sections, reduced thickness, or the like to increase flexibility thereof, at least in neck projection 113 and/or abdomen extensions 115. As will be understood by those ordinarily member 210, especially proximate a user's spine, kidneys, or the like, may reduce the ability of personal debris shield 100 to distribute impact forces to reduce pressures experienced by the user, as described above. Thus, care must be taken in the design of stiff member 210 such that flexibility is preferably increased in non-vital areas, and then only to an extent necessary to provide personal debris shield 100 with sufficient flexibility to be easily donned and removed. For example, a hinge may preferably be provided proximate a juncture between a portion of stiff member 210 disposed in abdomen extensions 115 and a portion of stiff member 210 disposed over a user's back. Thus, abdomen extension 115 is preferably able to curve or wrap around the ribs of a user without adversely impacting the ability of personal debris shield 100 to distribute forces of debris impacts proximate the user's spine.

Resilient material 310 is preferably included covering at least a portion, such as one or more sides, of stiff member 210. Preferably, stiff member 210 is substantially covered by resilient material 310 over interior face 213, facing toward a user during use, and may optionally further include resilient material 310 over exterior face 211, facing away from a user during use. Resilient material 310 is preferably formed as a foam, such as closed-cell shock absorbing foam, but may alternatively be formed as a gel, a batting, a sponge, feathers, granules, a bladder, combinations thereof, or the like. Resilient material 310 is preferably formed from a synthetic polymer, but may alternatively be formed from natural or synthetic rubber, cotton, wool, cellulose, combinations thereof, or the like. Thus, resilient material 310 is preferably disposed between a user and stiff member 210, whereby debris impact forces imparted to stiff member may preferably be at least partially absorbed, and thus not transferred to a user's body. As such, resilient material 310 preferably further reduces pressures experienced by the user from falling, wind-driven, other projectile debris impacts, or other various impacts. Resilient material 310 preferably additionally serves to cushion the user's body for comfort when personal debris shield 100 is disposed covering a user's back, neck, head, and/or rib area, or the like.

Covering 410 may optionally be included proximate resilient material 310 and covering at least a portion of external surface 311 of resilient material 310; thereby, containing resilient material 310 between covering 410 and stiff member 210. Such containment of resilient material 310 preferably prevents damage thereto, or loss thereof, during use and/or storage of personal debris shield 100. Covering 410 preferably further completely encloses resilient material 310 and/or stiff member 210; thereby, preventing infiltration of liquids such as water, whereby personal debris shield 100 may preferably be used as a flotation device. Likewise, infiltration of caustic, corrosive, or irritating liquids, or the like is preferably prevented, whereby damage to personal debris shield 100 and/or harm to a user may be prevented by keeping such harmful liquids from entering into and being held within covering 410. Finally, such prevention of liquid infiltration preferably prevents personal debris shield from absorbing liquid; thereby, becoming heavy and cumbersome to carry and/or use.

Covering 410 is preferably formed of a solid or woven sheet of durable polymeric material, such as poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide, nylon, polypropylene, or the like, whereby covering 410 preferably resists damage thereto, and prevents damage to resilient material 310 and/or stiff member 210, such as cuts, tears, lacerations, abrasions, punctures, burns, melting, stains, corrosion, or the like.

Covering 410 may further include securing means for securing personal debris shield 100 to a user, whereby loss of unwanted removal of personal debris shield may preferably be prevented. As such, personal debris shield may preferably be used as a flotation device with a reduced risk of loss. The securing means is preferably formed as one or more shoulder extension 111, abdomen extension 115, handle 117, and/or strap 417 adapted to encircle the user, at least in part; thereby, preventing unwanted removal of personal debris shield 100. The rigidity of shoulder extensions 111 and/or abdomen extensions 115 may preferably be selected such that they grip a user's body and resist accidental removal of personal debris shield 100 but allow intentional removal thereof. Alternatively, the securing means may be formed as, or include, a tie, a clip, a buckle, a cinch, hook-and-loop fasteners, combinations thereof, or the like, whereby more secure attachment may be achieved, although such more secure attachment may inhibit easy intentional removal of personal debris shield 100. Preferably, each of shoulder extensions 111 defines a handle 117 at a terminal end thereof, whereby a user may preferably grip one or more handle 117 to secure personal debris shield to the user's body, thereby preventing accidental removal thereof, while allowing personal debris shield 100 to be quickly and easily removed if needed by releasing handles 117.

Personal debris shield 100 preferably further includes locating device 510, such as attached to or embedded within body 110. Preferably, locating device 510 comprises a waterproof encasement and/or is disposed within a waterproof portion of body 110. Locating device 510 is preferably formed as a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) unit capable of determining a user thereof, whereby such user may be located during or after an emergency. For example, locating device 510 may preferably allow police, EMT, fire-fighters, rescue professionals, or the like, to determine how many, if any, individuals are trapped in a collapsed building, or the like, or may help identify the location of a victim during a flood or the like. Alternatively, locating device 510 may be formed as a radio system, a cellular system, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag, or the like. Locating device 510 preferably includes a battery power supply, antenna, and the like necessary to accomplish the user location function without additional equipment or attachments. Additionally, whistle 511 and/or light 513 is preferably included on at least one shoulder extension 111, or in another accessible location, as an alternate locating device. Whistle 511 may further advantageously be used to get the attention of other individuals, warn others of danger, issue commands, or the like. Light 513 may further advantageously be used to provide reading light, or to illuminate hazards in dark conditions.

Personal debris shield 100, as described above, is preferably included as part of emergency survival system 600, which may include one or more accessory 610, including tools, first-aid supplies, nutrients, or the like. Accessories, 610 may preferably be included within or more pocket, such as formed through or over covering 410. Preferred accessories include flashlights or other illumination devices, knives or other cutting devices, bandages, medicines, and matches, although any useful article may preferably be included with personal debris shield 100 to form emergency survival system 600.

In use, such as during an emergency, a user may preferably retrieve a personal debris shield, such as from a repository thereof, such as where a plurality of personal debris shields 100 may preferably be stored, such as in a stacked arrangement. Once retrieved, a user may preferably place personal debris shield 100 over the user's back, whereby shoulder extensions 111 preferably extend over the user's shoulders. The user may then preferably retain personal debris shield 100 in such position by holding handles 117. The user may then preferably crouch or sit on the ground with the user's back facing potential danger, such as oncoming wind that may carry debris, windows that may shatter, ceilings that may collapse, or the like. In the event of an impact, the user is preferably protected by personal debris shield 100 and by the method of use thereof.

If the user needs to escape danger, the user may remove personal debris shield 100, whereby personal debris shield 100 is not a hindrance to the user's flexibility, range of motion, speed, or the like. The user may further preferably attach strap 417 around the user's waist between abdomen extensions 115, whereby a user can enter a body of water and use personal debris shield 100 as a flotation device with reduced risk of loss. In order to facilitate rescue, the user may blow in whistle 511 to alert rescuers of the user's presence and location, and/or the user may activate locating means 510, such as by pushing a button or pulling a tab. If the user or another individual is injured, the user may preferably treat the injury with first-aid supplies provided with personal debris shield 100. Likewise, the user may use other accessories provided with personal debris shield, such as a flashlight, matches, a knife or the like as necessary or beneficial to ensure the user's safety, to facilitate rescue, or the like.

Now referring to FIG. 3, alternate debris shield 700 preferably includes body 710 including stiff member 210, resilient material 310, handles 717, belt 417, whistle 511 and light 513. Thus, compared with debris shield 100, cover 410 and exterior resilient material 310 have been eliminated. As shown, debris shield 700 preferably covers a top and side of a wearer's head, shoulders, and back, and is adapted for convenient and efficient nesting storage; i.e. one shield inside another. Body 710 may be generally inflexible to provide force absorbing and distribution characteristics to the shield, and may include resilient material 310 disposed on at least a portion of an inner surface thereof for comfort and force absorption. Since body 710 is generally inflexible, body 710 may be made in a plurality of sizes to accommodate different users.

In use, such as during an emergency situation or during a practice emergency situation, an individual may obtain a debris shield from a storage location via selecting a debris shield having a size corresponding to the size of the individual, remove the selected debris shield from a stack of debris shields, and don the shield via placing the shield over the individual's back, preferably covering at least one of the individual's neck, head, shoulders, arms, and sides. The individual may retain the debris shield in a position covering the individual's back so long as a danger of injury from debris impact, cuts, or the like, is present. Additionally the individual may retain the debris shield to assist in flotation when the individual is swimming or floating. The individual may remove and don the debris shield as necessary or convenient when moving, such as when seeking shelter. If necessary, the individual may jettison the debris shield if it becomes a burden or an obstacle for survival by simply releasing a hold on the device, or by unfastening one or more shoulder strap or belt of the shield. Additionally, the individual may activate a locating device of the debris shield, such as by blowing on a whistle, activating an electronic (e.g. cellular, CPS, radio, or other locating device, including sirens, horns, lights, or the like). Furthermore, the individual may access and use one or more of food, water, medication, bandages, and tools included with the debris shield as necessary for survival.

Having thus described exemplary embodiments of the present invention, it should be noted by those ordinarily skilled in the art that the within disclosures are exemplary only and that various other alternatives, adaptations, and modifications may be made within the scope and spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to the specific embodiments as illustrated herein, but is only limited by the following claims.