Priorities! Part 2 of 2

By The Coach, Contributing Editor


So you have decided to or have purchased a quality gas mask and filter cartridge. Do you and all of your family members know the proper way to put their gas mask on and the proper way to fit it to their face in order to get an air tight seal? Do you know how to change the gas mask filter cartridge with the gas mask on? Do you know how to test to determine if your gas mask is properly fitted to your face? If the answer is no to any of the before mentioned questions, have a fireman or someone that has been in the military and had NBC training show you. NBC is a military acronym for Nuclear/Biological/Chemical. You can also, check the below web site.

Before you purchase a gas mask, be sure you purchase the right size to fit your face. Yes, quality gas mask comes in different sizes. Not everyone’s face is the same size. Gas masks are made in large, medium, small adult and children’s sizes.

After purchasing your gas mask, you should practice putting on your gas mask and adjust it properly to obtain an air tight seal to your face while holding your breath?

Another thing to consider is gas mask do not work with beards. You will NOT get a good air tight seal around your face if you have a beard. If you do not get a good seal on your face and outside air leaks in around where the gas mask meets your face, you will be breathing in whatever contaminant is in the air. You MUST have an air tight seal around your face in order for a gas mask to operate properly and protect you.

Have you and your family ever tried on their gas mask with the filter canister attached? Have you and your family worn their gas mask for a few hours while conducting daily chores/activities? It is not as easy as it sounds.

If you or one of your family members is claustrophobic, you or they may have a major problem wearing a gas mask. It is better to find out now rather than during an actual emergency.

While doing the before mentioned test, you and/or a family member may become thirsty. Breathing with a gas mask on is a lot harder than normal breathing without one. If you do not have the proper attachment for your gas mask to attach a potable water source, such as a canteen, how are you going to have a drink of water? Do you plan on taking off your gas mask to get a drink of water in a contaminated environment? NOT a smart move! Gas mask companies make an accessory that allows you to drink from a canteen without removing your gas mask if you can’t get out of a contaminated area quickly.

glassesDo you wear prescription glasses? This presents another problem. You cannot wear your normal glasses while wearing a properly fitted gas mask unless you have the special made frames for your specific gas mask that are made by the gas mask manufacturer. The frames cost approximately $25.00. This price is ONLY for the frames that fit inside your gas mask. You must have your prescription lenses made to fit in those frames.

So why would you want to spend money on these specialized frames to fit the inside of your gas mask? Can you clearly see the sights on your pistol, rifle or shotgun without your prescription glasses? Can you read or drive a vehicle without your prescription glasses? If the answer is no to any of these questions, you need to purchase these specialized eye glass frames for use with your gas mask.

Another thing that people do not know is, how long does a gas mask filter last before it needs to be replaced?

While wearing your gas mask with the filter canister attached, the longer you wear it, the harder it will be to breathe through it. The particulate matter that is in the air will be drawn into the filter canister as you breathe clogging the filter and making it harder to breathe through. Particulate matter is defined as or relating to minute separate particles in the air. As the filter canister becomes more and more clogged with this particulate matter, it becomes harder and harder to breathe. At some point, it will be so difficult to breath that is when you need to replace your filter canister. So, do you have in date replacement filter canisters for your gas mask? If not, you had better get some!

filterOnce you take the filter canister out of the air tight packaging and take the top and bottom caps off of the filter canister as a general rule, that filter canister is only good for approximately 24 hours, if not used. However, the filter canister may not even last that long. If you are wearing your gas mask with the filter canister attached and are in a heavily contaminated area, the filter may get clogged with particulate matter that is in the air in less than an hour.

If you only have one gas mask filter canister, you have a problem. As a minimum, if your gas mask uses one (1) filter canister, you should have an additional two (2) , in date, replacement canisters, for a total of three (3). Some gas mask uses two (2) filter canisters, one on each side of your face. By using two (2) filters at the same time on a gas mask, breathing is made easier. If you have one of these gas masks you should have a total of six (6) in date filter canisters for your gas masks.

The gas mask and filter canister that you purchase should have mask and canister filter opening of 40 mm. This opening is the area where the filter attaches to the gas mask. A 40 mm opening on gas mask and filter canisters are the standard for NATO and U. S. Law Enforcement. Since this is the size that is used the most, you will have more of a variety of filters to choose from. You also MAY be able to obtain filter canisters from the police department in a disaster or if you have a contact and are lucky.

Before you purchase any gas mask or filter cartridge, be sure the gas mask and filter canister has been tested and approved by NIOSH. NIOSH is The National Institute for Occupational Safety, a division of the C.D.C., the Center for Disease Control. NIOSH test quality gas mask and filters and make sure that the gas mask and filter canister meet minimum standards set by the C.D.C.

Be sure to take the time to read the information about your gas mask filter canister before you buy it! Some filter canisters protect against only tear gas agents. When you purchase a new gas mask filter canister, it should protect you against: Dust, Fumes, Bacteria, Viruses, Biological Warfare Agents, and a wide range of organic, inorganics, acid gases and ammonia. What that means is that your filter canister should protect you against Sarin nerve gas, Mustard gas, Cyanogen, Phosgene, Radio Active dust, toxic particulate, aerosols, Tear Gas, Bacteria, Viruses, Anthrax, Small Pox, Ammonia, Hydrogen Cyanide, Chlorine, Sulfur Dioxide, Hydrogen Chloride and many more.

Make sure that you are purchasing a filter cartridge that is in current date of service and not an out of date one. MOST surplus filter canisters are out of date and no good. That is why they are sold as surplus and are cheap. Gas mask filter canisters generally have a shelf life of five (5) years, after the date of manufacture. After five (5) years from manufacture, your gas mask filter cartridges should be used for training purposes ONLY or thrown away. It is a VERY bad idea to bet your life on an out of date filter canister.

Does the filter cartridge on your gas mask attach on the opposite side of the gas mask that you shoulder your rifle or shotgun on? If your filter canister is on the same side that you shoulder your long gun on, you will have a problem properly sighting your rifle and/or shotgun because the filter canister will obstruct the proper shouldering of your long gun.

Do you have a bag to keep and carry your gas mask and a spare filter canister in?

DO NOT hang you gas mask up on a nail or hook on the wall! Dust and debris will get inside your gas mask then when you put it on, you will breath everything that accumulates inside you gas mask.

A friend of mine hung his gas mask, in a cloth carry bag, on a nail in his garage so he could grab it quickly in an emergency situation. One day he picked up his gas mask from the nail and found wasp had built a nest inside his gas mask. This would have made his life really interesting if he need his gas mask in a hurry because of toxic air contamination at his location.

DO NOT keep your gas mask in the direct sun light. The heat and sun light will degrade the rubber material that your gas mask is made of.

Another VERY important fact to remember, no gas mask/respirator, no matter what filter cartridge you use, creates oxygen. This means you will NOT be able to breath in a room that is on fire or any other low or no oxygen environments. Gas mask only filters breathable air, they do not make oxygen.

How much money have you spent on long term food, water and ways to filter water, firearms and ammunition and bug out equipment?

Do you think $200.00 for a good gas mask and associated items for each member of your family is unreasonable or you cannot afford it? If we are attacked by terrorist or an industrial accident occurs with a biological, nuclear or chemical agents, $200.00 for a gas mask and filter will be cheap life insurance. It will also give you a chance to use all of the other prepper purchases you have made.

Buy a quality gas mask/respirator with a drinking system installed, numerous extra (in date) filter canisters and any other accessories that you will need. Rotate your filter canisters with new ones on a regular basis. You will not be sorry.

I have purchased a, Tecno-Pro, SGE 400/3, NBC Full Face Respirator for my wife and I.

This mask is designed for Law Enforcement and Police.

Below is the manufactures description of the SGE 400/3 gas mask.

gas-mask“The SGE 400/3 gas mask has 3 filter ports (left, right and center) and is offered with an optional hood and canteen drinking system. Soft inner cup quick release harness with six adjustable straps. Controlled air flow prevents fogging of the visor. Unlike other mask designs, the full facial coverage offered by the Tecno-Pro mask provides wearers with full visibility additional face protection from flying debris. The extremely durable polycarbonate visor has been tested to resist a one inch steel ball that was propelled at 335 MPH without cracking or damaging the face shield. The mask was also tested for heat resistance and will not catch fire or melt at 800 Degrees C (1472 F) for 5 Sec. or 200 degrees C (372 F) for a duration of 6 Min.”

“The SGE-400/3 models have a special resin coating applied to the polycarbonate visor which provides additional scratch & chemical resistance. The competitive price, simplicity and the ease of maintenance of Tecno Pro full face mask systems make them an easy choice. *These mask are now available in small size for teens/adults under 5′-5″.”

The mask and filters that I have purchased are NIOSH approved and filter NBC contaminants.


Things to know before you buy a gas mask.

(See the below web site)


8 Things to know before you buy a gas mask!


If you have an infant or a small child in your family that you need to protect, there are solutions for you. Check out the below web sites:


Remember, once you realize that you are in a contaminated area, properly put your gas mask on, grab your bug out bag and get out of the contaminated area as quickly as possible.


NOTE: I DO NOT receive ANY compensation of ANY kind, from ANY company, for mentioning ANY product, named in ANY of my articles. I write about products that work for me.



“Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

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  1. Great post, thanks Coach.

    I purchased MSA Millennium gas masks for my family several years ago and stocked a variety of cannisters. MSA offers a compete line of filters (and I need to check the expiration dates on ours). I have used their products for decades and find MSA products to be well engineered and tested. I’m sure there are some great buys on military surplus gas masks but distrust how these masks might have been handled.


  2. Good article. I keep ours in a vacuum sealed bag. I do remember having a water treatment plant in South San Jose that had a chem leak (Cl2) a few years ago. My place of employment at the time was a mile an a half from the plant, which I didn’t know was there. AS you pointed out in the “A-part” of the article, there are dangers of moving chems in addition to chemical companies.

  3. Wow THANK YOU for the exc. article.We have the gas masks but I am ashamed to admit we have never even tried them on…..we will now though. Arlene

    Here in upstate Ny we had snow and its been icing for a couple of hours-trees and power lines will probably snap. Hows everyone else doing weather wise ??
    We bought a case on sale of the canned butter and these will be stocking stuffers.We try every Christmas to give our friends and family something as a preparedness gift.

  4. Rourke-I will ask Santa to bring you some snow for Christmas-right to your yard ok-smile!!!
    May you heal fast and well. My PT years ago after a severe horse injury told me to “Hold back with determination” easier said than done. Arlene
    PSI have misplaced your donation by mail address please e mail me with it-thanks.

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