Why Owning A Quality Gas Mask Is Essential

Why Owning A Quality Gas Mask Is Essential
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As a former CBRN officer in the Marine Corps, there are a number of threats which make the addition of a new, high quality mask a very good idea to have as a component of your threat mitigation plan.  Clean air is vital to survival.  There are few things as necessary than being able to breathe.  You can go without food for 30 days, without water for 3 days, without shelter from extreme cold for 3 hours, but you can’t survive without breathing for much more than 3 minutes.  For the citizens of the allied nations of WWII, the horrors of gas attacks during the First World War were still fresh in their minds, so they went to great lengths to protect themselves.  Today, most people have forgotten the lessons of WWI, or they focus too much only on the nuclear war risk.  But there far more hazards which can kill you without respiratory protection.  Today the public is generally unpreppared, but more and more first responders are awakening to the multitude of threats, which is why nearly every police department in the country is now equipping their officers with gas masks (mostly Avon).  Here’s a partial list of potential threats:  

Biological Terrorism or Global Pandemic:  The world’s foremost expert on pathogens, the CDC,  actually recommends respiratory protection to prevent the transmission of airborne pathogens.  The lowest recommended level of protection is an N-95 mask.  However, without eye protection, N-95 masks worn alone are not very effective, as the pathogen can easily enter through the eyes.  Simple eye protection like safety glasses is not enough unless the eyes are sealed from airborne particles.  Even full goggles will not provide protection as they must be ventilated to prevent them from fogging up.  This means that the only truly effective means of protection from airborne pathogens is a full face gas mask, or more properly an “Air Purifying Respirator, which seals the mouth, eyes and nose completely inside the mask.  Old surplus masks are inadequate as most use older technology.  Modern masks use better, more advanced construction and materials, and will use air drawn in through the filter to ventilate the mask lens to keep it from fogging (Avon’s C50, FM50, and FM53 masks have this feature…many other designs do not).  So while an N-95 mask or other protective equipment is better than nothing at all, a full face mask APR will provide much better protection.  During the Ebola scare, the CDC required every healthcare worker assisting an infected patient to have full face respirators. 

I often thought that the pandemic threat was exaggerated, but after seeing the US governments response to the Ebola crisis, I have zero confidence they will handle it correctly.  Remember that the Obama administration even refused to take such common sense measures as stopping people from Ebola infected countries from flying into the US, a decision which led to several deaths in Texas.  Each year over a half a million people cross our borders illegally…we know nothing about the health history of these people, though we can assume that since most of those crossing the border illegally are poor, they probably haven’t had the healthcare or immunizations we are accustomed to.  As a result, many are carrying infectious diseases, such as TB, dengue, or Swine flu, etc.  http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2014/07/illegal-alien-minors-spreading-tb-ebola-dengue-swine-flu Even the recent measles outbreak is directly related to the flow of unimmunized people crossing our borders.  The CDC states “Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000.”  So what happened?  If measles is eliminated, why do people still get it in the United States? The CDC goes on to say that “Every year, measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers who get measles while they are in other countries.”  If all Americans have been vaccinated, who is carrying the measles virus into the US?  The answer is foreigners traveling to the US.  My point is of all this is, you can’t count on the Federal Government to protect you.  We have no control of our borders, and therefore no control of what diseases might be brought in.  The Spanish flu killed as many as 50 million people…and did so in the days before mass transit and air travel.  The threat of a similar pandemic is therefor probably greater today.  A gas mask could be essential to avoid infection, particularly if you must leave home to travel among the infected (e.g. to help a loved one, or to get food or gas, etc.).  http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/06/illegals-invading-us-with-potential-for-mass-outbreak-of-contagious-diseases/

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Chemical Warfare Or Chemical Terrorism: Can it happen?  Sadly, yes.  Many nations have chemical weapons...many of them are not our friends. With our open borders, how hard would it really be to bring weaponized chemicals into the US?  Some rogue nations have developed missiles which will likely be able to reach the US in the future (North Korea).  Additionally, toxic industrial chemicals (TICS) could be used by terrorists...these chemicals are deadly, yet readily available.  

Industrial Hazards: Every day during our daily travels we pass within mere feet of deadly hazardous materials carried our roads and railways.  Chemical spills happen often.  Most result in minor injuries, but some are downright deadly.  In 2005 a train derailed in Graniteville, SC and spilled chlorine gas, killing 9 people.  Gas masks would have allowed individuals to drive or even walk out of the contaminated area. But despite living on a major railway where chlorine gas was transported every day, not a single person had the foresight to be prepared for such an event.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graniteville,_South_Carolina,_train_crash.  Even larger scale disasters are possible.  The Bhopal disaster exposed over half a million people to methyl isocyanate gas, and over 3000 people died with thousands more suffering permanent injury.  We have much better safety measures in place at such facilities here in the US, but these facilities are also at very high risk for a terrorist attack, so we are not immune.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster

Smoke/Dust Hazards:  On 9-11, thousands of people were exposed to smoke and hazardous dust caused by the terrorist attack which caused the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.  Despite working in the same facility where a previous attack occurred years earlier, most people were totally unprepared and had no respiratory protection with them.  Many of these people now claim permanent disability from the exposure.  The government of NYC states "Those exposed to WTC-related dust were more likely to develop respiratory symptoms, sinus problems, asthma or lung problems. One in ten registry enrollees developed new-onset asthma within six years of 9/11, three times the national rate."  http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/wtc/html/know/know.shtml[/URL].  Again, the simple precaution of having some respiratory protection would have saved people from lifelong illness. Is it likely that terrorists will strike again?  The answer is an obvious yes. 

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Nuclear Energy Threat:  In recent times, most nuclear experts felt that there was nearly zero risk from modern day nuclear facilities.  The Fukushima disaster proved that idea to be false.  Japanese society is among the most prepared for disasters of any on earth, yet they suffered the 2nd worse nuclear accident in history.  So, we are not immune.  There are about 100 reactors in the US, all of which were started before 1977.  These facilities could release radioactive particles caused by an accident, earthquake, flooding, or terrorism. 

Nuclear War: In the worst case scenario of a full-scale countervalue/counterforce nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, the Office of Technology Assessment in 1979 estimated US casualties of between 35 to 77 percent of the population.  That’s a terrible number, but what it means is that there will be millions of survivors who will need protection from the radioactive fallout that will be present for a long time.  The greatest danger from nuclear fallout is inhalation of radioactive dust.  This is because radioactive particles do their worst harm when they are taken into the body either by inhalation or ingestion.  A human can survive a long time when only the skin is exposed to fallout, but when radioactive particles are brought into the body, the particles are put in direct or nearly direct contact with vital organs, such as the lungs, heart and liver.  Here, the radiation is able to do the most damage, so a good mask is key in preventing this direct inhalation.  It will even help prevent getting particles into the mouth where they are swallowed. 

A crisis occurs because people are unprepared.  After all, if they were prepared, the problem would never develop into a crisis.  Your crisis will occur when you need a mask and you don’t have one. So, here’s what I do for my family.  We keep a high quality NEW mask for every member of our family.  Every 5 years or so, I buy another mask which replaces one of my older masks kept in the house (where most people spend most of their time).  The older mask is put into a sealed bag and hidden in my vehicle where sunlight can’t reach it.  UV exposure is one of the primary destroyers of gas mask and filter longevity, so the mask is protected from this by keeping it in a dark location.  Heat is un-avoidable inside a parked vehicle, but by keeping it in the passenger compartment, the mask at least benefits from cooling when the car is occupied with the air conditioning on. 

By keeping a mask at home and in your vehicle (where it is accessible at work), you will have protection nearly 24/7.  

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