Gas Masks: Should You Buy One?


One of the most symbolic items in respect to war, terrorism, and prepping is the gas mask.

Different items have been used as gas masks as far back as ancient Greece, but the modern gas mask came into being during the First World War in response to the use of poison gas.

Owning a gas mask in case of a chemical attack is often futile.

Most chemical and gas attacks can happen or afflict you without you even knowing about it. Take Anthrax for instance, it doesn’t necessarily show symptoms and if it does these are cold or flu like that occurs after a few days or even up to 2 months!

Unless you are wearing a gas mask all day every day, the likelihood of one helping you out in an attack is limited at best.

You also need to be aware that not all attacks will be in the form of gases. Some chemicals and especially radioactive agents can affect you via your skin even if you have a gas mask on protecting your lungs.

As such having a full protective suit as well as a gas mask will help decrease the chance of exposure.

That being said, if you know you are heading into an area containing possible chemicals or similar airborne agents, having a mask could be a lifesaver.

If you decide to pick up a gas mask for you or your family, you should know some things:

Don’t buy surplus

Military surplus gas masks are a huge risk. They can be surplus for numerous reasons, including that they are defective, or obsolete.

Military gas masks are also tested under different, looser, regulations than civilian gas masks. The idea is that they keep most of the troops going for longer than effectively curtail gases.

Would you really put your life at risk because you wanted to save a few bucks?

Safety Standards

When buying a civilian gas mask, you need to check that it has been tested to the appropriate safety standards such as NIOSH approved.

Buy the right sort of mask.

Buying a gas mask with a side filter on both sides is going to be more effective than a single filter option. This isn’t because it filters better or filters more, it’s simply because you can change one filter at a time, knowing the other filter is still doing its job, therefore keeping you safer for longer.

You can also choose which side to keep a filter on should the filter get in the way of your rifle stock.

Learn how to use it

Just buying a mask is pointless unless you know how to effectively maintain and use one. Practicing at home is one way to do it but without proper teaching you may end up learning the improper way to equip a mask.

Filters are important

Not only should you make sure you have a stock of filters, but you should keep them secured when not in use as they degrade over time.

Also, filters are generally only suitable to specific chemical agent types. Using the wrong one means you may as well take the mask off.

The closest you will get to an all in one filter is a CBRN (Chemical Bacterial Radiological and Nuclear) filter. Even these don’t cover every eventuality.

Keep them stocked, keep them rotated and keep a wide variety.

Are you a target?

Think about it, if you live in the wilderness or on a farm in Nebraska, are you a likely target for an attack? Most likely not, so do you even need a heavy duty chemical agent gas mask?

If you are closer to or even in a city of note then there is a higher probability of an attack occurring.

Stay clean shaved

Any form of beard or facial hair can break the seal of the gas mask making it useless. If you plan on effectively using a gas mask, keeping clean shaven is the only way forward.

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There you have it: gas masks are not the be all and end all. Yes they have their uses but they can also be severely limited unless you have prior knowledge of the attack and type of attack.

What do you think – is a gas mask worth? If so, why? Let me know in the comments.


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