Caught in a disaster? You'd better hope you're wearing the Emergency Jockstrap. Simply unsnap the jockstrap, and slip it over your head.
Dr. Elena Bodnar won an Ignoble Award for the invention last year, an annual tribute to scientific research that on the surface seems goofy but is often surprisingly practical. And now Bodnar has brought the eStrap to the public; purchase one online for just $29.95.
"The goal of any emergency respiratory device is to achieve tight fixation and full coverage. Luckily, the wonderful design of the jockstrap is already in the shape of a face mask and so with the addition of a few design features, the Emergency Jockstrap enhances the efficiency of minimizing contaminated bypass air flow," explains the eStrap website.
It sounds silly, but Bodnar, a Ukraine native who now lives in Chicago, started her medical career studying the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster. If people had had cheap, readily available gas masks in the first hours after the disaster, she said, they may have avoided breathing in Iodine-131, which causes radiation sickness.
The jockstrap-turned-gas masks could have also been useful during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and for men caught outside during the dust storms that recently enveloped Sydney, she said.
According to a report on tech news site CNET, there are plans for a "counterpart device for women" in the works, though the precise shape it will take has yet to be revealed.