As you consider purchasing a surplus gas mask in the states, you’re probably taking a step back to ask if you’re even allowed to have one. Seeing as gas mask legalization isn’t frequently talked about, it is a valid concern.
Surplus gas masks are legal in the US. The issue with buying them comes from aged filters and their effectiveness in various emergencies. Before you buy from surplus stock, consider if the cheaper price is worth any potential drawbacks.
Check out the pros and cons of buying a surplus gas mask.
Surplus Gas Mask Filters
It isn’t so much about whether or not the gas mask is good and more about the filters that go into the gas masks. When it comes to surplus gas mask filters, they may be long expired and dangerous to use.
Filters have a shelf life, which is unfortunate for those who want to prep for emergencies. It’s even more unfortunate for surplus gas masks that have already spent a few years in storage and don’t come with brand new filters.
Older gas masks may not have filters manufactured for that type anymore, so even if you purchase “new” ones, they still aren’t exactly new. Just because they haven’t been opened doesn’t mean they haven’t aged.
As you go through surplus gas mask options, think about the filter as well as the mask itself. Do research on whether or not the filters are still being made or if you can get an adapter to convert new filters onto an older gas mask.
Why Surplus Gas Masks Are Good
A surplus gas mask is better than no gas mask when it comes down to emergency situations. Inhaling forms of toxic air can harm you both short term and long term, so a gas mask that you know how to operate and put on can spare you from many harmful substances you otherwise would have breathed in.
If you manage to find new filters for your mask that will last, or have a filter converter, you’re pretty much set for protecting yourself.
Surplus gas masks are cheaper than new, top-of-the-line gas masks but have many of the same qualities as the brand new ones. Gas masks can be pricey, which adds up if you’re planning for your family to wear masks as well in emergencies. Buying surplus won’t put as much strain on your finances.
Surplus distributors also have a good number of options for which gas mask works best for you. As long as you have know what you want to protect yourself from, whether it’s chemical, biological, or nuclear inhalants, you can narrow down your gas mask research and find a surplus store that has them in stock.
Why Surplus Gas Masks Are Bad
Surplus gas masks aren’t “bad” in the sense that they don’t work, but if you’re going to own one for yourself and other family members, you need to know how they work, their possible drawbacks, and when it’s time to put them on in order for them to protect you properly.
Gas mask filters have a shelf life, so you could be setting yourself up for harmful exposure if you’re unaware that the filters you’re using aren’t as effective as they’re meant to be. Should you fail to buy more filters that would have lasted you in a prolonged emergency, the filter in your mask won’t stay good forever, thus gradually exposing you to toxins.
Surplus gas masks don’t cover all types of protection. Biological, chemical, nuclear, or radiological gas masks are usually their own distinct make, so if you buy a gas mask that will keep you safe from radiation but not from airborne illnesses, putting it on in an epidemic won’t protect your body like you want.
Ordering a gas mask for each kind of emergency will rack up the costs, even when it comes from surplus.
That being said, gas masks (even the right ones) won’t work if you put them on after you’ve been exposed to harmful substances in the air. You may go days before it’s known that you’ve been breathing in something bad, so by the time you put on your mask, you could already be in trouble.
Let’s say that you’ve bought the right kind of gas mask and you’ve put one on in time to be safe from whatever is in the air. You also need to ask yourself:
- Is the mask secured properly?
- Does the mask fit to your face?
- Do you have facial hair that may prevent it from sealing entirely to you?
- If you have children, do the masks fit their face as well?
If the mask does not properly seal to you or your family member’s face, the gas mask will become useless. Without training on how to put a mask on and what maintenance it needs, you risk exposing yourself from what you want to avoid in the first place. Gas masks require time to learn how to operate, so failing to familiarize yourself before an emergency can have negative impacts.
Wearing a gas mask the right way can still be harmful to your health, unfortunately. Heart and lung conditions may worsen with restricted airflow from a gas mask. So even when you do things correctly, you can be setting yourself up for more health problems because of gas masks.
Consider If A Gas Mask Is Worth It
Surplus gas masks can come in handy, but how much time, effort, and money will you put in if you purchase one? And will a gas mask even help you in emergencies?
Do you live in a rural area or a city? Chances of being exposed to illnesses or toxins varies on where you live and the likelihood of it being targeted.
Answering questions like these can help you decide whether buying a gas mask is the right choice for you.
Check out this in-depth guide on gas masks from Mira Safety to help you with your research.