The military has long recognized the importance of gas masks. Not just for suffering through yearly gas mask qualifications, but as valuable tools to have on hand in any sort of airborne scenario. From wildfires and high levels of airborne smoke to the 2020 BLM protests that saw CS gas used by police to quell crowds, there are many ways that airborne chemicals and particulates can affect us. Having a mask on hand can make all the difference in those cases, and it’s something that every preparedness-minded person should own.
Having a mask on hand can help protect you and your family from contaminates during a crisis, and it’s even more important to choose the right one for your needs. While there are many options available on the market, not all of them are created equal. Some are better than others, and the ones that offer more value are the ones that are worth your investment.
When choosing a gas mask, consider the following factors:
Filters and cartridges
Most of these masks are rated with their ability to filter out particulates and gases. The most common rating is an N95, which screens out 95% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. Those are the kinds of particles that are commonly found in smoke, but they can also be in other dangerous substances. Gases are a bit trickier, and while some of them can be blocked by these fine screens, most of them require the help of an absorbent to neutralize them.
These are typically made of activated carbon and are woven into the material of the mask, so they don’t need to be added in layers like the particulate filters do. These are often known as sorbents, and they can be used to neutralize blister agent chemical weapons such as mustard, chlorine dioxide, and phosgene.
While these aren’t as effective as the particulate filters, they are useful in a crisis. They can also be used to filter out odors and other unwanted chemicals from the air.
Seal and comfort
A mask’s comfort is a big factor to consider, especially in the case of longer-term use. Some models come with different sizes of nose cups to improve the fit, while others have adjustable head harnesses and breathing capabilities. You’ll also want to think about how easily it can be purged, as that’s necessary to prevent contaminant infiltration.
Finally, you should consider the cost. Having a gas mask isn’t cheap, but it’s an important tool that you should add to your survival supplies, so you should budget appropriately. Just be sure that you don’t skimp on quality; the best models will still hold up over time if they are taken care of properly. Remember to check yours regularly for cracking, dry rot, and leaks, and to replace the organic and gas cartridges as needed.