Nowadays, the life of a common citizen is tough because of the political, economic, and social aspects that lead to numerous riots in many American cities. You could hear in the news about cases of people getting poisoned by tear gas, on some occasions even severe health consequences. It may be even useful to be ready for the gas invasion at your working or dwelling place.
Even though many of us have seen scenes of using gas masks in movies, questionably the major part knows how and when to use them. Moreover, there exist several types of gas masks, so it is necessary to distinguish them and to know why you may need one.
In this article, you will find essential information and guide about the types of full-face gas masks, how and when to use them, and why it is necessary to be ready to face some chemical agents in your daily life.
When Do I Need a Gas Mask?
Surely, there may be numerous situations in which you’d better use a gas mask. However, we will provide you with the essential cases in which you take your own risk of not using the mask (spoiler: it will definitely be a bad idea).
- It is known that during a previous couple of years the situation in the country is not very calm. Military services, police, and law enforcement agencies may use riot control agents (tear gas, pepper spray, or CS gas) fired from a grenade launcher or water cannons in order to disperse a protest during crowd control operations. It is the most frequent cause of occurrence of respiratory diseases in the participants of the protests or even in common passers-by.
- What is more, within the last years, the world is covered with the Covid-19 pandemic, which is spread through the air and through contact. To avoid becoming a disease vector, you must wear surgical masks or respirators in public places.
- Some occupations require working with organic vapors. It is not only about mine crafting or construction work but also working trips to smoky areas. Therefore, almost anyone should be ready to face some troubles with breathing fresh air.
- What is more, even office workers may be affected by fire outbreaks or even a building collapse. During these occasions, there is almost no fresh air available. A gas mask will help one to avoid breathing with heavy fumes that can litter the lungs and airways during a long evacuation.
- Most people got used to putting tear gas and pepper spray pulverizers in a pocket or bag to protect themselves on the streets. Surely, it is a great method of self-defense, yet you may expect someone to use it as a weapon. So, it is better to be ready for the risk of such an assault and be exposed to burning your skin and lungs because of tear gas and pepper spray.
- Masks can also be great protection while making a reconstruction. As in the case of keeping a gas mask at your working place, you should also wear it while making a reconstruction in order to keep your sight and airways clean of dust and chemicals.
And it is not all the cases where you might need a gas mask or respirator. There may be even worse cases that may result in worse consequences, yet they are very unlikely to happen with common men in common times.
The main thing is that wearing a mask is essential when there is a possibility to meet a gas invasion or being affected by pepper spray. It is especially important for the protesters since you never know when the police are going to apply tear gas during protests.
How Does a Gas Mask Work?
During a gas invasion, you cannot breathe the surrounding air since after the gas particles touch your inner organs, they are immediately intoxicated. It may result in respiratory diseases. In the worst-case scenario, there may even be deaths or severe burns even just because of gas and pepper spray pulverization. Therefore, to be able to breathe during a gas attack, you have to filter the air first.
The main function of the gas mask is to protect its wearer from outer chemicals such as tear gas particles. It is designed so that the surface of the mask leaves a huge amount of the chemical agents outside the mask itself, so the wearer will not be able to inhale them.
But how actually the gas masks are able to filter the chemicals from the breathing air? The majority of masks contain activated carbon (also called activated charcoal) which is popular for its adsorption abilities. The surface area of the carbon in the filter of the gas masks takes the hard part of the chemical invasion and leaves them inside the filter, thus protecting the nose, lungs, eyes, and even skin of the person wearing it.
The main idea of the gas mask is to offer protection to the airways of the person who wears it by leaving the toxic chemicals inside the filter of the mask. That is why it is essential to utilize the used filter or the whole mask after using it once.
Except for being able to protect people from tear gas, the gas mask also provides protection from pepper spray. What is more, it does not only protect the airways but also will not let burning one’s skin. However, you are not always ready to bring a big mask with you all the time because of the danger of pepper spraying. That is why you’d better know the types of gas masks and how to choose them wisely.
Types of Gas Masks
Even though the gas invasion may appear on different occasions, the gained harm may be of various extent. So, in different situations, it is better to choose very particular types of masks:
- Filtering Face Masks
Most masks of this type are intended to protect the wearer from the physical invasion of dust and dirt and to filter the air from the dirt particles. They also do not let the things from the wearer’s mouth go into the surrounding area. The widespread example of such type is surgical masks that protect the doctor from the blood that may sprinkle from the patient’s body, and provide protection for the patient too. That is why this mask is very popular during pandemics since it gives protection to its user and to the people around them.
However, wearing this mask will not help you during military protests. Most likely your nasal mucosa will be burning and it will be hard to breathe since this mask is not reliable in giving such strong protection.
- Half-Face Respirators
This category includes respirators and escape hoods that are designed to give better protection from the gases. You may expect them to protect your nose, mouse, and the whole lower part of the face. The escape hoods are usually used during a fire outbreak escape. The wearers have not been exposed to the suffocating gas thanks to the changeable filter cartridges that can be changed during the gas invasion without inhaling toxic smoke.
In fact, those masks and respirators are perfect for providing protection from carbon monoxide (the gas that occurs during the fire) and all other dangers of fire, building collapse. Nevertheless, the more serious exposures will still harm you if you are wearing this kind of mask. Even though the protection provided by respirators
- Full-Face Respirators
Distinguishing this category is already a simplification of the full range of full-face masks since they include many different kinds of filter masks. As it can be understood from the name, these masks cover the full face, especially including nose, mouth, and eyes, and thus totally protect the skin, lungs, and airways of the wearer.
The masks from this type usually include Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) ones, which obviously mean the purposes of the mask. Even a full-face respirator can give you some degree of protection and decrease the risk of getting a disease after a gas explosion.
These also include the most significant and even used by police, military services, and emergency personnel filter masks that are called SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) and PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator). Thanks to this gear, it is possible to live through a chemical attack, especially if the respirator is equipped with changeable filter cartridges that provide extra oxygen supply.
A full-face respirator and tear gas mask can also be divided into two categories: civilian and military. As it can be understood from the name, they are applied for different purposes, prior–for the workplace or at-home wearing, while the military mask filters severe and heavy fumes which can cause death.
Since goggles are designed mostly to protect the eyes, their function decreases rapidly. However, in many situations, wearing goggles is better than wearing nothing at all and being exposed to a pepper spray burn. Moreover, there exist goggles that cover the nose and nostrils, yet it is still not very reliable for protecting the lungs of protesters.
Further, we will discuss how to know when you must wear a gas mask, what is Mira safety and why you may consider acquiring it, and how to choose the best gas mask for any case.
How to Know I Am Affected by Toxic Gas or Fume?
Except for tear gas from crowd control or pepper spray from a street offender, you may be affected by other types of gas and even the most sensitive nose may not feel its presence. Nevertheless, the majority of gases that you can meet in daily life are those used against protesters by police during crowd control operations.
CS gas is the most frequently used type of tear gas. Several years ago, one of the most widespread riot control agents was CN gas but it came out that its usage against protesters caused heavy diseases and increased risk of death occurrences within them. That is why now CN is used rarely and replaced by CS gas, pepper spray, and water cannons. Nevertheless, having with you and putting on a gas mask is essential when going to a protest.
What can overtake you at home or workplace is so-called town gas. A notion about gas leaks should be a sign that you should use a respirator, mask, or a wet handkerchief while being in a building. Otherwise, if you breathe in this gas, you are subjected to intoxication or even coma.
That is why it is extremely important to know how to prevent yourself from passing out and being intoxicated from a toxic gas or fume. First of all, pay attention to the scents. The town gas has a typical smell so it can be recognized. So, if you know there is a danger of gas leak occurrence and feel a specific smell, be ready to leave the building. Try not to make lots of breaths and use a respirator or wet piece of textile, turn off electrical appliances, and call an emergency service. These actions may prevent a gas explosion and save you from intoxication.
Another possible issue is fire occurrence inside the building. If there is a fire alarm or a visible source of fire or smoke, wear a mask, respirator, or use a wet textile to cover your nose and mouth. Your main purpose is not only to avoid open fire but also not to be choked by carbon monoxide. If you have to leave the building through long-distance spaces, move by squatting to be nearer to the floor.
Tear gas is probably the most uncomfortable gas that can be used towards protesters and any other person. The first feeling you get is burning in your eyes and nose. Next, you are not able to inhale since the gas’ particles settle down in your throat and make it impossible to use the muscles in a common way. That is why police are very unlikely to use tear gas against protesters during a small and minor protest. However, if the government is concerned about one, it will ask the enforcement agencies to use exactly tear gas.
If you are subjected to tear gas during a protest, there is no better way than to get out of the crowd and wear a mask or respirator that filters the tear gas (it will be a wise decision to wear it even before the gas spraying). To know which masks are applicable, stay with us to know more details about choosing the best gear.
Tear Gas and Pepper Spray: What Is the Difference?
Even though both tear gas and pepper spray are considered to be riot control agents, the active substance and usage purposes differ:
In the whole world, it is a common practice to use pepper spray as a self-defense weapon. It works as a narrow jet directed strictly in one direction, thus headed towards one or two persons. The main consequence of being subjected to pepper spray are skin burn, temporary tearing, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms create a brief inability for people to act, so destructive protesters or offenders can be stopped for some time.
Tear gas is a more severe riot agent. It is usually fired from huge cans or in form of grenades towards the protesters’ crowds. By these means, police can disperse a protest in a few moments with no need to chase each person. However, the consequences of being subjected to tear gas particles are much worse since it is mostly impossible to breathe in a usual way and the tearing may not stop for several hours. That is why tear gas is also used for military purposes.
In any case, we recommend putting on at least nose-covering goggles during a protest since you can meet with tear gas or pepper spray at any moment (usually it is highly unexpected). At least, this gear will help you to see what is going on and be able to take some breath with your nose in case the throat is full of gas.
What to Do if I Have No Gas Mask in an Emergency Situation?
However, sometimes you can not even expect to meet tear gas or pepper spray during a day, so there is no mask or respirator with you. Luckily, you can create the best protection from improvised means.
For example, it is considered that a wet handkerchief soaked in lemon juice can protect you from tear gas or fume intoxication and even death. Also, remember about the significance of timely escape, no protest is worth your life.
How to Eliminate the Outcomes of Tear Gas?
Again, it is better to minimize the effects of tear gas by putting on a mask or respirator, since any physical consequences of being subjected to it are highly unpleasant and hard to get off with. However, here are some tips on how to remove the results of being sprinkled with tear gas or pepper spray:
- do not touch your face until you clean your hands with clean water, especially avoid mixing tears or water with particles on your face (it will boost the process of soaking into the skin)
- use a handkerchief or wipes to remove mucus from nostrils and skin, you can also blink frequently to be able to see what is around you
- get a milk can to pour it all over your face to reduce the burning and remove the gas particles, the milk also filters the composition of the gear that hit your face
- when you get home, remove your clothes and wash them, try not to touch any surfaces with the affected textiles
- take a cold-water shower and do not forget to also wash your hair
If after an hour after doing these steps you still feel burning in your eyes, nose, throat, or skin, you should visit a doctor for personal recommendations.
What to Consider When Choosing a Gas Mask?
Now we are ready to discuss how to choose your perfect mask or respirator for any occasion. First of all, let’s talk about respirators as they can be used more often and for a bigger amount of cases.
- Soft Respirators
These are used during reconstructions, protests, and even in public places during pandemics. Choose those with N95 or P100 ratings so that you will be provided with 99% protection from dust, first, and oil particles.
- Half-Face Respirators
Having the same functions as soft respirators and still covering your nose and mouth, half-face respirators are intended to protect you from a bigger amount of fired gases and atomizations. It may also have filters on the surface and thus provide better safety.
You may find gear for affordable prices, for instance, this $28 reusable respirator, which is durable equipment that will let you use it for almost a whole day thanks to the changeable filter cartridges and convenient rubber bands.
However, you can also find more professional kinds of respirators designed for military and emergency purposes. These come in a higher price category and offer comfortable and durable usage. A tactical air-purifying respirator kit is typically sold for about $200 and is used by the American, Czech, and Israeli defense forces, which guarantees its reliability.
- Full-Face Respirators
Mostly used for special reconstruction and rescue operations, a full-face respirator provides the best level of protection by covering the full face and filtering the air that comes to your lungs.
One of the most popular on the market, this BreatheSafe Respirator will protect you not only from gas particles but also from toxic fumes. It is also compatible with 3M equipment, so you can use it many times. Good visibility is provided by a wide transparent surface of the respirator, so you can see everything that is happening ahead and to the side of you. A guarantee of long-wear is provided by a soft rubber textile that covers your head without pressuring it.
Talking about masks, we also recommend familiarizing yourself with a guide provided by MIRA safety, yet we also directed our own guide by their suggestions:
- always check the certification of the masks so you can be sure there will be no harm to your health after using them
- the existence of a speech diaphragm on a mask is also a very important and desirable feature that shall flawlessly work
- also check the compatibility of the gas mask with optics, filters, and hydration systems, otherwise, you may not reuse the mask several times
- an additional quality guarantee will be the use of the mask by police or special services, so you may first check whether they know about the mask’s features
- see whether the mask’s surface is resistant to toxic fluids and heavy hits, so you can be sure no unexpected occurrence will harm you
How to Avoid Choosing a Bad Gas Mask?
Unfortunately, many people who have to deal with tear gas, pepper spray, and other toxic particles are not enthusiastic about spending lots of money on a good mask. It leads to worsening of their health conditions after being subjected to the gases or fumes. So, you should be ready to spend some hundreds on a good quality mask that you can reuse many times in the future. Consider getting ghillie suit as well.
Some masks also do not provide enough filtering or ventilation so it gets hard to breathe while being in the mask. Before buying the mask offline, you’d better try it on to see if you can see and move in a comfortable way while putting it on.
The speed of getting into the mask is also important. Make sure you can wear the mask in just a few seconds if you are in an emergency situation.
All in all, it is extremely important to be ready for any emergency case even if you are a common office worker and predict to meet no gas intoxication on a usual day. Nevertheless, having a respirator in your workplace is always a good thought that may save your life. Moreover, tough pandemics times made us get used to having a facial mask with us daily.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
Has Anyone Ever Died Because of Tear Gas or Pepper Spray?
The occasions of death because of tear gas or pepper spray burning or intoxication are rare, yet they exist. It is impossible to foresee how a particular person will take the consequences of tear gas. Nevertheless, do not neglect to visit a doctor if you feel uncomfortable after having tear gas sprayed on you.
How Do I Know My Gas Mask Is a Good Choice?
Always check the mask certification before acquiring it since it is the best guarantee of its quality. It is also better to view comments on the chosen mask on the Internet to observe whether someone experienced using it in emergency situations. You can also check whether police or secure services use the same mask to make sure it is a reliable choice.
How Does Gas Mask Filter the Gas?
The majority of gas masks have some amount of activated charcoal on the surface of the filters, which captures the toxic gas particles and does not let them go into your airways and lungs. As for respirators, they stop bigger particles that may be found in the atmosphere.