June 6, 2009 The Rescue Reel is a compact, self-contained device designed to allow people to escape from high-rise buildings in an emergency. Taking inspiration from a fishing reel, inventor Kevin Stone's design features a simple sling harness and enough cord to descend from a 100 story building, yet the device is small enough to be stored in a standard filing cabinet drawer.

The Rescue Reel requires no special training to operate (but a little courage wouldn't go astray). The user first attaches the Kevlar cord to a secure object (such as a door frame) and then steps into the one-size-fits-all harness before rappelling through an open window to the ground.

The device is equipped with a dynamic braking system which automatically applies a centrifugal brake to slow the person’s descent. The manufacturer says that descent from a 100 story building should take less than 4 minutes.

In addition to use in skyscrapers, the Rescue reel could be used for self rescue on bridges, construction sites, oil platforms, or cruise ships.

The descent of loads from 30 to 400lbs (13.6 to 181.4kg) can be safely slowed with no adjustments. A manual secondary brake is provided in case the dynamic brake fails, or the operator needs to avoid an obstacle.

While lowering yourself over the side of an high-rise building isn't an attractive prospect, it sure beats the option strapping on a parachute, or the terrifying possibility of being unable to escape at all.

Rescue Reel specifications:

  • Dimensions: 14.8 x 13.5 x 8.8in. (37.6 x 34.3 x 22.4cm)
  • Weight: 22lbs (10kg)
  • User weight: 30 to 400lbs (13.6 to 181.4kg)
  • Maximum use height: 1000ft (304.8m)
  • Construction: Aluminum and plastic housing, Kevlar cord

Testing of the Rescue Reel is complete and production units should be available next year for USD$1500. The manufacturer predicts that price will drop once mass production starts.

Alan Brandon

Visit Rescue Reel for additional information.

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