Picture this. An earthquake beyond any seismologist’s wildest dreams rocks southern California. The freeway systems collapse throughout the Southland, and the San Onofre nuclear power plant is nothing but rubble upon the beach. Your air is filled with nuclear radiation particles.
Imagine this. A terrorist network strikes an Eastern city with chemical warfare. In the Midwest, a smallpox outbreak occurs. What can you do to protect your family from breathing in these dangerous inhalants? Strap on a gas mask so you can breathe clean air. Before you make the investment in masks for your family, consider these five tips to ensure that you make a wise purchase.
Use caution with surplus masks
If you want a high-quality, military- grade mask, you may be ready to hop in the car and head to your military surplus store to snag one for each member of your family. But be sure the masks are still within code, says survival expert Marty Dent of Seattle. “Some military masks have been used and used masks are probably not going to be airtight to your face,” he says. “Plus, these masks are often out of date and past their usefulness.
In some models, the filter can be replaced to make the mask effective again, but often that is not the case and you’ll be wearing a mask that does you no good.” No matter what type of mask you use, you’ll want to ensure that it fits tightly around your face so that no fresh air can get into it through the sides, top or bottom.
Know the difference between masks
A gas mask respirator filters many different types of particles if it’s up to date, has been stored properly, and has a new and working filter cartridge.
Depending on the type of respirator, the mask could protect you from bacteria, chemical threats and other dangerous inhalants. Standard N-95 filter masks like the type you buy at a hardware store are also helpful to have on-hand, because they also clean particles out of the air as you breathe.
These masks, however, “do not protect against chemicals, gases, or vapors and are intended only for low hazard levels,” the Centers for Disease Control notes on its Web site.
The best way to ensure that you can breathe clean air is to get a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), which is similar to what firefighters and scuba divers use. They allow you to breathe clean air from a tank. However, they are quite heavy and typically only include an hour’s worth of air.
Check the label
Depending on the type of threat that you foresee, you’ll want to ensure that your mask can do the trick. Most preppers who expect nuclear fallout will have a nuclear-approved respirator or SCBA mask, whereas you may not need such a heavy-duty mask if you are expecting debris in the air from a tornado.
Double-check the label on any mask you’re considering purchasing so you’ll know what it