Also commonly referred to as "air-purifying respirators," gas masks are protection devices that filter or clean air as you breathe it, saving you from exposure to potentially dangerous or deadly chemicals that may be in the environment. Note that according to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) there are gas masks that protect against more than one type of threat, but there is no "one size fits all" approach to what you're trying to do. You will need to make sure you're using the right chemical cartridge to remove the specific contaminant you're worried about.
Beyond that, there are a few other essential things you'll want to keep in mind in terms of using a gas mask both safely and effectively.
The Four Key Points of Using a Gas Mask
One of the most important things to understand about safely and effectively using a gas mask is ultimately true of many items in this category: a tool is only effective if it's the right tool for the right job at exactly the right time.
Gas masks are certainly no different, which is why you always need to keep four key things in mind according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- A gas mask is only effective if the correct type of mask is being used in the first place. A gas mask for biological warfare is very, very different from a gas mask designed for something like asbestos exposure. Likewise, gas masks have changed a great deal throughout history - the gas masks used in WW1 are very different from those available today. Make sure you know exactly what you're trying to protect yourself from and THEN purchase a gas mask.
- That gas mask must be available precisely when you need it. If you're trying to protect yourself from exposure in your home, a gas mask isn't going to do you any good if you store it in the trunk of your car. Think just as carefully about where and how you choose to store that mask as you would when buying it in the first place.
- You must know when and how to put your gas mask on and take it off. This is another indicator that not all gas masks are created equally. A gas mask for dogs has an entirely different approach to a gas mask for humans. Regardless of which model or type of gas mask you choose, always know how to safely put it on and take it off to save time in a situation where every second counts. Not only should you read the manufacturer's instructions carefully, but you should also practice putting on and taking off the gas mask on a regular basis so that you don't have to experiment or stumble when you actually need to use it.
- Finally, you should know how to properly store your gas mask to keep it in proper working order.
To that last point, one of the most critical things for you to do involves properly storing your gas mask when you're not using it to help prevent damage over time. This is a process that will change depending on which specific model you choose, so always consult the manufacturer's instructions and follow those directions carefully.
At Security Pro, we strive to regularly provide useful information about the products we sell - including gas masks - to help you operate them efficiently, safely and effectively at all times. In fact, we are currently working on a video dedicated to this very topic: gas masks and their proper usage. You can find the video on our website and social media channels soon.