A Prepper’s Guide to Respirator Masks
A Prepper’s Guide to Respirator Masks by Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper
A respirator mask is a prep that is potentially lifesaving, doesn’t cost a lot of money, and is oft-overlooked in the prepper world. Some folks like to invest in gas masks (which, of course, are irreplaceable during certain types of disasters) or they forget about respiration altogether.
The importance of something that can help you breathe without sucking harmful particles or vapors into your lungs cannot be overstated. After all, in the prepper’s adage of 3, air comes first:
3 minutes without air
3 days without water
3 weeks without food
I recommend keeping disposable masks on hand. They aren’t just for people whose budget is tight. Disposable masks can be used in many different scenarios in which a gas mask may not be practical.
It’s interesting to note that in China, the particulate levels due to pollution are so high that many people won’t leave their homes without donning a protective mask. (source)
Classifications of masks
A major question when purchasing respirator masks is which kind to get.
There are many different classifications, but today, we’ll discuss 3 popular types: the N, R, and P series masks.
The letter in the classification indicates the resistance of the mask to oil.
- N – is not resistant to oil
- R – is resistant to oil
- P – is oil-proof
Then there are numbers, generally between 95 and 100. The number indicates the percentage of potential leakage.
- 95 – filters out 95% of airborne particles
- 99 – filters out 99% of airborne particles
- 100 – filters out 99.97% of airborne particles
The type of filter you need depends on the type of threat you are facing. I don’t spend money on anything less than 100 series filters unless it is for something very minor, like working with sawdust. These will screen out the smallest of particulates and because you never know what type of disaster you’ll be facing, it seems to me the best idea to filter out as much as possible.
If you’re only getting one kind, get the P100 type because this will be resistant to just about any threat. It comes in a reusable ($16.95 at the time of posting) and disposable ($8.21 apiece at the time of posting) version. If you get the reusable type, be sure to stock up on replacement filters.
10 Reasons Why Preppers Need Respirator Masks
There are many different situations in which a respirator mask could be handy – or even life-saving.
- Evacuating from a fire: Having lived in wildfire country for the past few years, my vehicle kit contains swim goggles and N100 masks for everyone. In the event of a fire, the goggles will protect our eyes from the smoke, and the respirator mask will help us breathe despite the ash and smoke. These would also be helpful bedside during a house fire.
- In the event of a nuclear strike: If a nuclear strike were to occur, as I’ve written before, it wouldn’t automatically be a death sentence if you are outside the initial blast zone. If you must travel to get away from the radioactive aftermath, wearing gear like a P100 mask, goggles, and a Tyvek suit will provide some protection from radiation.
- During a pandemic: If an airborne contagious illness is spreading, you can prevent inhaling the virus with an N100 or P100 mask. It all depends on the size of the virus (this information will generally be available from the CDC. Ebola, for example, is .02 microns, so the protection of a 100 series mask is essential.