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Three Minutes Without Air: Why A Gas Mask Should Be Part of Your Preps

You know the survival maxim about how you can live 3 minutes without air, right? I always looked at this as just basic life type of scenarios. If you couldn’t breathe for three minutes you would die. I would envision someone who had been knocked out and people had stopped to stare at the person lying on the ground slowly turning blue. Other times I would imagine someone suffocating in a horrible paracord accident or other nonsense. It struck me the other day that I had been looking at this all wrong.

Three minutes without air could just as easily mean three minutes without clean, breathable air. What if the air you were breathing would kill you, not the act of not breathing at all? What if with each breath you were bringing some organism into your lungs that would poison you or make you sick to the point that you died or became incapacitated. Three minutes without clean, clear, safe air would be an eternity for some. How long can you hold your breath?

Threats

There are many valid reasons for having a gas mask as part of your preps that have nothing to do with a global pandemic or outbreak of some deadly virus, but they all revolve around protecting the air that you and your family are breathing. Remember the riots in Egypt and Syria where police fired tear gas into the crowds as they protested against their government? Have you personally ever been exposed to tear gas? I have, and it isn’t fun at all. In the Army each soldier has to go through the “gas chamber” for a couple of reasons. The first is to test your NBC mask and make you feel comfortable with how it will protect you. For this little trick, we all lined up, put on our masks and walked into a very smoky room. All of the other young guys with me were standing around the edge of a big room. You could see the smoke in the air but it wasn’t so intense that you couldn’t see everyone around you. We did some jumping jacks as I recall to get our heart rate up and our breathing faster. Then our drill sergeant told us to take our masks off.

Everyone held their breath for as long as they could, but your eyes started burning first. I happened to the unlucky guy who was at the front of the line and everyone started pushing me from behind to get out the door. Some guys started coughing and several were stamping their feet. My drill sergeant who must have loved me (and who still had his mask on) yelled at me to “stand still or I’ll make you all do this again!” About now, our eyes and noses were running like crazy and we had to take a breath in. This burned like fire and the coughing fits came next. Eyes watering, snot running down our face and coughing like mad, we were finally given the go ahead to walk out the door.

That was tear gas, and after a few minutes in the clean air, we were fine. Imagine if that had been nerve agent or some deadly virus. A few minutes outside of the building could very well kill you.

Options

In searching for a gas mask or respirator for my family I came across several options depending on what your personal threat assessment is. You can start with your basic N95 particulate masks but these have limited use and some say they are useless at protecting you from airborne viruses. I prefer a solution that can give you protection from multiple threats and that requires you spend a little more money unfortunately.

Mil surplus – Again if you stick with military surplus, you aren’t going to find too much more out there that was specifically designed to counter threats from NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical) than your average soldier could face. Willson Premier Plus Respirator and Survivair Cartridges are military soldiers. You may have to dig a little more to find a good mask with hood and case that is in great condition, but the prices would be very reasonable.  The good thing about new military surplus is they have the bells and whistles that other masks may not have at the base model.  Of course you will still sound a little like Darth Vader but that is a bonus.

half-face-mask-refinishing-respirator

Israeli – The infamous Israeli Civilian Gas masks are everywhere out there. You can find these at Army Navy stores, Ebay and Amazon as well as camping sites if you can believe that. This is the gas mask supposedly issued to Israeli civilians when threatened with chemical attack by Saddam’s Iraq. It has full NBC protection, and come with one sealed filter. The price on these is around $39 and that is an insane deal if you ask me.  Now, the million dollar question is do they work? That I am not sure of but at this price it is hard to pass up. In the Army we would have to check our masks out every year and our NBC specialist would have us mask up and then they would swipe a pen around the openings of our mask and ask us if we could smell anything. I never could, thankfully but he said I would have smelled banana. You can even buy these kits today to test your masks I would definitely recommend that. At least you will know that if they throw rotten fruit at you it will be alright.

gas-mask

Considerations

Communication – You want a mask that you will be able to talk in. More specifically you want a mask that your family can hear what you say. Make sure that what you purchase for your family or group is going to allow you to communicate.

Drinking – This would be a major issue if the threat lasted for a long time or you were outdoors in a hot climate for an extended duration. The older military gas masks have straws that plug into your canteen cap. The cap was special and I am sure you can order these from Ebay, but something to consider.

Visibility – Clear visibility in your mask is crucial. More so if you are planning to be able to shoot a weapon accurately. If you haven’t purchased your first defensive firearm, you can read this post. If you are using a shotgun, aiming isn’t such a big issue. The two main things that affect visibility are your filters and your face mask. In the older military style you have two eye holes. The newer masks offer one faceplate. The filter will either be positioned on the side or at your mouth. Practice aiming and shooting your rifle with the gas mask on to see if you have to adjust anything. Make sure you do this before you are in the situation where you need to fire accurately.

Filters – Replacement filters are something you should consider now. Buy enough to last because you won’t be able to run out to Wal-Mart for a resupply. Also, the mounting position of the filters could influence whether or not they will work good for you. The best option is to purchase a mask that allows you to mount filters on the left or right side. This will free up your cheek for a good stock/cheek weld when sighting.

Hopefully this gives you some information you can use when planning for your family’s survival. It’s amazing how good taking a breath will feel when you know that your family is protected.

 

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Bioterrorism, Pandemics and Emergency Preparedness

bioterrorism Martha McSally

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who chairs the subcommittee on emergency preparedness.

“The risk of a biological terrorist attack to America is an urgent and serious threat,” McSally said. “A bioattack could cause illness and even kill hundreds of thousands of people, overwhelm our public health capabilities, and create significant economic, societal and political consequences. Our nation’s capacity to prevent, respond to, and mitigate the impacts of biological terror incidents is a top national security priority. This hearing will highlight the threat of bioterrorism and ensure we’re taking the needed steps to prepare for and defend America against this threat.”

What can a family do to prepare for such an emergency?

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Biological and Chemical weapons may be the most devastating and uncontrollable weapons ever rendered by man. Biological weapons are any man made weapon caused to disperse viruses, bacteria, or toxins derived from living organisms to cause death or disease within humans. Recent statistics claim that in the event of a future terrorist attack, the means in which the attack would be achieved would be through the use of bio-chemical weapons. This is not hard to believe, considering most bio-chemical agents can be created in ones own home with readily available materials. Due to the nature of biological and chemical weapons, the most widely predicted use for such weapons would be against the populace of a nation, where it may inflict massive fatalities and economic destruction. However this does not mean that a bio-chemical attack is unsurvivable, with proper knowledge and readiness it can very well be a crisis that one can overcome.

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Don’t count on a vaccine being available. The flu vaccine that is currently used for seasonal flu will not work against any Chemical or Biological Attack. New strains of the virus require new vaccines, and these can take months or years to develop and even longer to produce and distribute on a large scale.

Stay informed. Should a pandemic of any kind flare up, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other governmental and non-governmental organizations will provide information on the spread of the disease, as well as updates on vaccines or other medications, tips for keeping yourself safe, and travel advisories. The WHO and CDC, as well as various national governments, already have websites in place to provide useful planning information to the public. Newspapers and TV and radio broadcasts will also help disseminate critical warnings and advice.

Get your yearly flu vaccine shot. While the current vaccine won’t protect you from every flu or any other “new” strains of the virus, it can help you stay healthy (by protecting you some flu virus strains), which may in turn help your body to fight the virus better if you do become infected.

Get a pneumonia vaccine shot. In past Chemical or Biological pandemics, many victims succumbed to secondary pneumonia infection. While the pneumonia vaccine cannot protect against all types of pneumonia, it can improve your chances of surviving the pandemic. The vaccine is especially recommended for people over the age of 65 or those who have chronic illnesses such as diabetes or asthma.

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Use anti-viral medications if advised to do so by a health professional or by the government. Two antiviral medications, Tamiflu and Relenza, have shown the potential to effectively prevent and treat avian flu. These are both available only by prescription and will probably be effective only if taken before infection or very shortly afterward. It should be noted that additional testing is necessary to determine how effective these drugs really are against avian flu. Furthermore, mutations in the avian flu virus may render them ineffective in time.

Use an alcohol-based disinfectant. Since it’s probably not feasible to wash your hands every time you touch something that may carry the virus, you should carry an alcohol-based hand cleaner with you at all times. These cleaners come in a variety of forms, and can be used any time you need a quick touch-up. Keep in mind, however, that the use of these cleaners is not a substitute for thoroughly washing your hands, and they should only be used to supplement hand washing.

Avoid exposure to infected. Right now, the only documented way to become infected with avian influenza is by coming into contact with infected birds or poultry products, and these routes of infection will continue even if the virus mutates so that human-to-human transmission becomes the greatest threat. Avoid handling any thing the infected has already touched, and try to prevent domestic animals (such as house cats/dogs) from coming into contact with Infected. If you work in proximity the dead or living infected, for example–take precautions such as wearing gloves, respirators, and safety aprons. Cook all foods thoroughly, to 165 °F (74 °C) throughout, and exercise proper food-handling techniques, as you would to protect yourself from other threats such as salmonella. Proper cooking kills the most virus.

Exercise social distancing. The most effective way to prevent becoming infected is to avoid exposure to infected people. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to determine who is infected and who is not–by the time symptoms appear, a person is already contagious. Social distancing, deliberately limiting contact with people (especially large groups of people), is a reasonable precaution to take in the event of a pandemic.

Stay home from work. If you’re sick or if others at your workplace have become sick, you should stay away from your workplace even in the absence of a pandemic. Given that people will generally be infected and contagious before they exhibit symptoms, however, during a pandemic it’s essential to stay away from places, such as work, where you have a high probability of being exposed to an infected person.

Try to work from home. A pandemic can last for months or even years, and waves of intense local outbreaks can last for weeks, so it’s not like you can just take a few sick days to protect yourself from workplace infection. If possible, try to arrange a work-from-home situation. A surprising variety of jobs can now be accomplished remotely, and employers will likely be willing–or even required–to try this out if a pandemic strikes.

Keep children home from school. Any parent knows that kids pick up all kinds of bugs at school. Avoid public transportation. Buses, planes, boats, and trains place large numbers of people in close quarters. Public transportation is the ideal vehicle for widespread spread of infectious disease.

Stay away from public events. During a pandemic, governments may cancel public events, but even if they don’t, you should probably stay away from them. Any large gathering of people in close proximity creates a high-risk situation.

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Wear a respirator. The most virus can be spread through the air, so in the event of a pandemic it’s a good idea to protect yourself from inhalation of the virus if you’re out in public. While surgical masks only prevent the wearer from spreading germs, respirators (which often look like surgical masks) protect the wearer from inhaling germs. You can buy respirators that are designed for one-time use, or you can buy reusable ones with replaceable filters. Use only respirators labeled as “NIOSH certified,” “N95,” “N99,” or “N100,” as these help protect against inhalation of very small particles. Respirators only provide protection when worn properly, so be sure to follow the instructions exactly–they should cover the nose, and there should be no gaps between the mask and the side of the face.

Wear medical gloves. Gloves can prevent germs from getting on your hands, where they can be absorbed directly through open cuts or spread to other parts of your body. Latex or nitrile medical gloves or heavy-duty rubber gloves can be used to protect the hands. The gloves should be removed if torn or damaged, and hands should be thoroughly washed after removal of gloves.

Protect your eyes. Some Illnesses can be spread if contaminated droplets (from a sneeze, or spit, for example) and then enter the eyes or mouth. Wear glasses or goggles to prevent this from occurring, and avoid touching your eyes or mouth with your hands or with potentially contaminated materials.

Dispose of potentially contaminated materials properly. Gloves, masks, tissues, and other potential bio-hazards should be handled carefully and disposed of properly. Place these materials in approved bio-hazard containers or seal them in clearly marked plastic bags.

Prepare for disruption of services. If a pandemic strikes, many of the basic services we take for granted, such as electricity, phone, and mass transit, may be disrupted temporarily. Widespread employee absenteeism and massive death tolls can shut down everything from the corner store to hospitals.

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Keep cash on hand at all times as banks may close and ATMs may be out of service. Discuss emergency preparation with your family. Make a plan so that children will know what to do and where to go if you are incapacitated or killed, or if family members cannot communicate with each other.

h2o20-main-water-drop            Emergency Water Filter System

Stock up on necessities. In the developed world, at least, food shortages and disruption of services will likely not last more than a week or two at a time. Still, it’s essential to be prepared for such an event. Store a two-week supply of water for everyone in your household. Keep at least 1 gallon (3.8 L) per person per day in clear plastic containers.

Store a two-week supply of food. Opt for non-perishable foods that don’t need to be cooked and that don’t require a lot of water to prepare.

Make sure you have an adequate supply of essential medications.

Seek medical attention at the onset of symptoms. The effectiveness of antiviral medications decreases as the illness progresses, so prompt medical treatment is imperative. If someone with whom you have had close contact becomes infected, be sure to seek medical care even if you do not display symptoms.

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Anthrax

  • Organism accountable (Type): Bacillus anthracis (Bacteria)
  • Method of Infection: Inhalation, Intestinal, Cutaneous (through the skin)
  • Incubation Period
    • Inhalation: 1-60 days
    • Intestinal: 3-7 days
    • Cutaneous: 1-2 days
  • Lethality
    • Inhalation: 90-100% untreated, 30-50% treated (this percentage rises the longer it takes to receive antibiotics.)
    • Intestinal: 50% untreated, 10-15% treated
    • Cutaneous: 20% untreated.
  • Treatment and Vaccine: Antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin and Doxycycline are available through the centers for disease control, the sooner one receives treatments the higher the chance that they will survive.
  • Inhalation: Initial Flu like symptoms such as; fever, headaches, abdominal pain, chest pain, vomiting, and coughing, but with no nasal congestion. Eventually it will lead up to severe respiratory problems, where the victims will die of asphyxiation from the lungs filling up with blood and fluids.
  • Intestinal: Begins with abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, sore throat and a painful ulcer at the base of the tongue.
  • Cutaneous: At first red itchy bumps begin to form all over the body, then they collapse into painful ulcers which later scab over.
  1. Cover your nose and mouth with fabric, wet fabric if possible, this will filter out a portion of the deadly spores.
  2. Leave area of attack immediately.
  3. Take shallow breaths or if possible, hold your breath until you leave the area of attack.
  4. Limit your movement from a contaminated area to a secure area. Constant movement will spread the deadly spores. Once you reach a safe area remove your exposed clothing and place them in sealed plastic bags.
  5. Take a cold (hot or warm water may open pores) shower as soon as possible with copious amounts of soap. Wash your eyes with a saline solution or just warm water.
  6. Await antibiotic treatment. The key to survival is early antibiotic treatment.

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Glanders

  • Organism Responsible (Type): Burkholderia maller (Bacteria)
  • Method of Infection: Inhalation, Cutaneous/Mucous membranes
  • Incubation Period
    • Inhalation: 10-15 days
    • Cutaneous/Mucous membrane: 1-5 days
  • Lethality: Nearly 100% within 1 month, without any treatment. Rapid medical attention would likely decrease the chances, however little or no medical data is available.
  • Treatment and Vaccine: No vaccine available. Antibiotics like, combined Amoxicillin and Clavulanate, Bactrim, Ceftazidime, or Tetracycline must be consumed for 50-150 days to effectively purge the toxin.
  • Inhalation: Begins with fevers, chills, sweating, headaches, body aches, chest pain and congestion. Later the neck glands begin to swell and pneumonia will develop. Painful open sores start to develop along the internal organs and mucous membranes. Dark pus-filled rashes may also form.
  • Cutaneous/Mucous membranes: Painful ulcers along the point of entry, and swollen lymph nodes start to form. Increased mucous production from the nose and mouth.
  1. Cover your nose and mouth with fabric, wet fabric if possible, this will filter out a portion of the deadly spores.
  2. Leave area of attack immediately.
  3. Take shallow breaths or if possible, hold your breath until you leave the area of attack.
  4. Wash skin with soap and water.
  5. Run your eyes through warm running water for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Await medical treatment from response teams. If you begin developing a fever, seek medical attention immediately.

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Ricin

  • Organism Responsible (Type): Ricinuss communis (Plant derived toxin)
  • Method of Infection: Inhalation, Intestinal, Injection
  • Incubation Period
    • Inhalation/Intestinal/Injection: 2-8 hours
  • Lethality: With a standard high dose, lethality becomes a devastating 97%. Most victims will die within 24-72 hours after the initial symptoms.
  • Treatment and Vaccine: No treatment available except activated charcoal for ingested Ricin. Vaccine is experimental at the moment.
  • Inhalation: Sudden onset of fever, cough, chest pain, and nausea. Then one begins to feel joint pain and a shortness of breath. Respiratory problems begin to get more severe as time passes.
  • Ingestion/Injection: Abdominal pain, nausea, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.
  1. Cover your nose and mouth with fabric, wet fabric if possible, this will filter out a portion of the deadly spores.
  2. Leave area of attack immediately.
  3. Take shallow breaths or, if possible, hold your breath until you leave the area of attack.
  4. Wash your body, clothes and contaminated surfaces with soap and water, or a mild bleach solution if you have become directly exposed.
  5. Await instructions from medical response teams.

Gas Attacks

Gas attacks have been around since the 5th century BC, when they were used as chemical warfare.[1] Today, the release of toxic gas might also be the product of a terrorist attack or industrial accident.[2][3] While you should hope that you never have to experience this, knowing how to recognize and respond to such a threat could save your life.

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Chlorine Gas

  1. Be aware of any yellow-green gas floating around with the strong smell of bleach. Some soldiers in WWI described it as pepper and pineapple. If you are exposed to chlorine gas, you may have trouble breathing or seeing and will feel a burning sensation.
  2. Move quickly into an area with clean air in order to minimize exposure to the gas.
    • If indoors, exit the building as quickly as possible.
    • If outdoors, move to the highest ground. Since chlorine gas is more dense than air, it will sink to the ground.
  3. Grab a cotton pad or any fabric and soak it in urine. Hold it up to your nose as a mask. The Canadian military survived the first large-scale chlorine gas attack in WWI by using urine instead of water, under the presumption that the urine crystallizes the gas.
  4. Remove all clothing that may have been exposed to the gas, being sure not to let the clothes touch your face or head. Cut the clothes off so that they don’t need to make additional contact with your skin as they’re peeled off. Seal the clothes in plastic bags.
  5. Clean your body thoroughly with a lot of soap and water. Rinse your eyes with water if your vision is blurred or your eyes burn; if you wear contact lenses, throw them away. However, water mixed with Chlorine gas can turn into Hydrochloric acid, so be careful.
  6. Call emergency services and wait for help to arrive.

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Mustard Gas

  1. Be aware of a usually colorless gas that smells like mustard, garlic, or onions–but note it doesn’t always have an odor. If you are exposed to mustard gas, you may notice the following symptoms but they may not appear until 2 to 24 hours after exposure:
    • redness and itching of skin, eventually changes to yellow blistering
    • irritation of eyes; if exposure is severe, there may be light sensitivity, severe pain, or temporary blindness
    • irritation of respiratory tract (runny nose, sneezing, hoarseness, bloody nose, sinus pain, shortness of breath, and cough)
  2. Move from the area from where it was released onto higher ground, as mustard gas is heaver than air.
  3. Remove all clothing that may have been exposed to the gas, being sure not to let the clothes touch your face or head. Cut the clothes off so that they don’t need to make additional contact with your skin as they’re peeled off. Seal the clothes in plastic bags.
  4. Rinse any exposed parts of your body with plain water. Eyes should be flushed for 10-15 minutes. Don’t cover them with bandages; however, sunglasses or goggles are fine.
  5. Call emergency services and wait for help to arrive.

Tips

  • Purchase and use “Self Powered Radios” AND “Self Powered Flashlights”. In anyemergency, especially one of this magnitude, batteries will be unavailable. Get this equipment AHEAD of time. These devices will keep you informed and you’ll also have reliable lighting as well. The latest of these designs will also charge your cell phones as well.
  • Listen to qualified medical responders at all times, even if their instructions contradict this article. This article MAY NOT be 100% accurate, and medical responders probably know best.

Sources

SHTFandGO.COM