Emergency Bra

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When I think of “emergency underwear” I think of Depend Undergarments. I do not think of bras.

I especially don’t think of sexy, frilly red bras unless the emergency is that someone must be seduced STAT.

Now there is, indeed, a scarlet brassiere called the Emergency Bra that doubles as a gas mask. This gorgeous little multi-tasker was invented by Dr. Elena Bodnar, Director of the Trauma Risk Management Research Institute at the University of Chicago who began her career volunteering to help the evacuation and relocation of families from Chernobyl in 1986. There Dr. Bodnar saw that that the inhalation of Iodine-131 could have been prevented if face masks had been readily available (Iodine-131 causes radiation sickness).

“Tight fixation and full coverage” are important in a gas mask, Dr. Bodnar explains on the website. In the event of emergency you remove the bra, separate the cups, secure the cup/mask around your head with the bra straps and give the remaining cup to someone you really, really like.

Dr. Bodnar received the Ig Nobel Prize for Improbable Research last year and in a wonderful speech the seductively-accented, velvet-gowned physician said the average woman takes 25 seconds to use the device: “five seconds to remove, convert and apply your own mask and 20 seconds to wonder who the lucky man is she is going to save.” (video)

What I love about Dr. Bodner’s creation, aside from the fabulously weird mix of disaster preparation and hot drawers, is that it was prettily designed (it also converts into a nursing bra and a strapless bra). Before seeing it I’d have envisioned some a dreadful, white, old-lady bra with about four pounds tight elastic and no thought to aesthetics, but I would proudly wear this with complimentary red accessories for a very long, happy evening in.

The size range is from 32B to 40C, which means that being a D I’d have to do a little squeezing and might not be able to fit snugly into these life-giving cups; hopefully this will catch on and a broader range of sizes will be provided.

It sounds goofy but seriously…terrorist attack, violent storm, SARS, odiferous neighbor on very long flight….why buy a bra that would just sit there in the event of an emergency when you could wear a life saver? If it’s on Canada’s Red Cross blog it must be legit. And they retail for $29.95….less than a great many of Victoria’s Secrets.

There’s also said to be a counterpart device in the works for men to offer us in the event of emergency. I hope it’s something simple, like a belt made of self-adhesive bandaging. I’d hate to spend two seconds of a disaster feeling awkward about accepting a respirator some guy just pulled out of his pants.

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