Inventions in Everything: The Toilet Snorkel

Imagine this situation, if you will. You are trapped in a high rise building that is on fire. Smoke fills the air and oxygen is running low. If you want to live, you need to breathe and for that, you need a source of clean air.

That's why our featured invention today should intrigue you, because it offers an individual in that situation with a way to access fresh air until they might be rescued. William O. Holmes of Belmont, California came up with a unique and yes, patentable, solution for this scenario, as witnessed by his 1982 patent for a "Fresh-air breathing device and method". Most however will describe his invention as what it really is: the toilet snorkel.

Don't believe us? Here's Figures 1 and 5 from U.S. Patent 4,320,756 and Holmes' disclosure of the invention describing its utility:

U.S. Patent 4,320,756 Figure 1 and Figure 5

This invention provides an economical device and method for ensuring a life-saving supply of fresh air to a person entrapped in a burning hotel room or the like, when the person is subjected to toxic smoke inhalation.

The fresh-air breathing device comprises breathing means for being held in communication with a respiratory intake passage (mouth and/or nose) of the user and conduit means for communicating fresh air to such respiratory intake, including a first end connected to the breathing means and an open second end having sufficient flexibility and length for insertion through a water trap of a toilet. Carrying forth the method of this invention, such insertion of the conduit means or breathing tube through the water trap will expose the open end thereof to fresh air from a vent pipe connected to a sewer line of the toilet. The user may then proceed to breathe fresh air for life-saving purposes, until rescued.

We really like the facemask accessory for the invention as shown in Figure 5 above. Because if you're going to breathe in fresh air through a vent pipe connected to a sewer line of a toilet, you might as well do it in style!

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