If Bodyguard blanket had come out years ago, it would probably have been brushed off as a product designed for paranoid pessimists. In 2014, however, the idea of a bullet and shockproof protective blanket doesn’t seem so farfetched.
According to the Bodyguard™blanket webpage, since the devastating Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012, there have been a total of 44 school shooting in the U.S. As for tornadoes, it was only last year that a storm described as “among the deadliest tornadoes in U.S history,” claimed the lives of 51 people, including 20 children, in Oklahoma.
Made from material used by U.S. soldiers, the Bodyguard blanket’s design is so simple it’s a wonder why it took so long to come about. The lightweight pad is fastened to the individual, resembling an oversized backpack when worn. Manufactured by the Oklahoma company ProTecht, the blanket is marketed as being able to protect against 90 percent of all the weapons that have been used in U.S. school shootings.
"As a bullet enters the Bodyguard Blanket, its incredibly strong materials 'catch' and deform the bullet. This deformation of the bullet occurs within the layers of the blanket and allows a high degree of energy absorption," ProTecht explained, the NY Daily News reported. The material is also shock resistant and ProTecht claims it can provide protection from falling debris, such as what one would encounter during a tornado. “We are so confident in the protective properties of Bodyguard™blanket we are encouraging every administrator to make it an integral part school tornado drill protocol,” Bodyguard’s creators claim on their website.
Interestingly enough, the blanket was not designed by a team of defense specialists, but rather a foot doctor from Oklahoma, Fox News reported. Steve Walker, the blanket’s developer, was deeply disturbed after seeing a massive tornado tear through his hometown, killing 24 people, including seven children trapped in a school. Feeling that something must be done to prevent these senseless loss of lives, Walker was moved to develop the protective covering. "By no means would we ever say that this is more protective, but when you have budget constraints, this might be a viable alternative," Walker told Fox News.
The blanket comes in three sizes, designed to cover bodies ranging from small children to adults. In an alarming promotional video, ProTecht shows how the blankets provide nearly instant protection in emergency events. The video begins by showing various photos of a normal day at school. The routinary activities come to a halt when an announcement comes over the loudspeaker. Here, the viewer is introduced to the Bodyguard blanket and we are meant to presume that the padding has protected the school children and teachers from whatever disaster they may have encountered.
The blankets have potential, but it will most likely take some time before they become part of common safety protocol in schools across America. Unfortunately, each blanket currently costs around $1000, CNET reported. However, the company does hope that they will be able to offer discounted rates if the bright orange coverings are purchased in bulk.