Always try out your gear before you need to use it!
Most medics don't use gas masks or hardware store respirators because they are either too cumbersome, too expensive, or get stolen by the police.
Nevertheless, if you plan to be on the front lines risking pepper spray, in tear gas for a long time, they can be good to wear. Just make sure you have an alternative backup if your mask is taken from you.
•A gas mask should fit your head, be relatively new,
•If you use a hardware store respirator, the filter should be for paint-thinner or organic vapors.
•Make sure your gas mask filter is in correctly, facing the right direction. The filters need to be replaced periodically.
•Make sure you are comfortable wearing your gas mask before you have to use it. It takes a while to get comfortable breathing through filters and having restricted vision.
•Don't count on the eye-pieces to protect you from rubber bullets, etc.. They can shatter.
•Get anti-fog solution. Or simply use shampoo. Smear a light coat on, let it dry and buff off.
•Don't wear it tight on top of your forehead while not using - your sweat will fog it.
|Hardware store respirator used for paints. Make sure filters are for organic vapors or solvents, and are put in correctly.|
Alternatives to Gas Masks:
|OK respiratory protection, some eye protection against objects, but holes in eye mask will not stop chemicals.|
|Good all around protection against chemicals, except for the cotton clothing.|
We use Bandannas soaked in apple cider vinegar or lemon juice,
Swim or Ski Goggles. Cheap, simple, effective and you can carry extras for your buddies.
Bandanna soaked in acidic juice (preferably apple-cider vinegar, or lemon juice) over the nose and mouth.
Keep them sealed in a zip-lock plastic bag.
White vinegar is harsh on the lungs. However, we sometimes grab handfulls of white vinegar in individual packets from the cafeteria because they don't leak. Lemon juice works too. We haven't tried balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar.
The acid neutralizes the tear gas and to an extent, the pepper spray.
Water soaked bandannas are better than nothing, as it helps the bandanna from absorbing the chemicals.
N-95 respiratory medical face masks are said to be effective against chemicals.
|N-95 medical face mask|
|Prof. Oliver Roy saved his eyesight with these ski goggles from a sound grenade that exploded by his forehead at the anti-police brutality demo. We helped him and noticed his hair was singed. (Photo: La Presse). see: The Philosophy Teacher and His Ski Goggles|
Palestinians use onions against tear gas: "We pulled our onions out and stomped them, holding the broken bits under our noses. It is supposed to help prevent the effects of the gas, but it was still pretty awful. We were coughing and snorting with running noses and eyes watering". We are not sure how this works, except maybe the tearing eyes flushes away the tear gas.