Oklahomans develop blanket to protect youngsters in tornadoes or shootings

ProTecht is a bulletproof pad that can be worn like a backpack. The concept was developed by an Edmond podiatrist.
BY CATHERINE SWEENEY, Business Writer Published: June 7, 2014

A orange bulletproof blanket could come between a child and tornadic debris or a 9 mm bullet, forging a better “opportunity to survive.”

The Bodyguard Blanket, made by ProTecht, is a bulletproof pad designed to protect students during disasters at school. The 5/16-inch thick rectangle features backpack-like straps that allow users to don it, and then duck and cover.

“We’re trying to stop that blunt-force trauma when that rubble is falling down on a child, for instance,” said Steve Walker, who developed the idea.

Walker is a podiatrist in Edmond. After last year’s tornadoes, he decided children without access to tornado shelters needed some kind of protection.

He gave a sketch of the protective blanket to Stan Schone, an inventor and one of his patients, during an appointment.

The two form half of the executive team at ProTecht. The others are Jeff Quinn and Jay Hanan.

Hanan is an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa. He introduced the team to Dyneema, a high-density plastic used for ballistic armor that is lighter than Kevlar.

The new material also protects against sharp objects, like nails and shards of metal.

“Instead of bending over and hoping for the best, they’re afforded an extra layer of protection,” Schone said.

Schone and Walker suggest, in terms of tornado safety, the blankets aren’t a replacement, but a more economical option. At $1,000 per blanket, they believe buying one one per student would be less expensive than building tornado shelters.

“By no means would we ever say that this is more protective,” Walker said “But when you have budget constraints, this might be a viable alternative.”

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