TruePrepper shares information about practical prepping with a focus on risk analysis. Browse the TrueRisk index to see if you are prepared to survive the worst. Check out our prepper gear reviews too.
First things first… what is your motivation? Why do you want to become a doomsday prepper, and do you have practical, mainstream prepping already under your belt? If the answer to these questions is you are looking to improve your self-sufficiency, then you are already on track. If that wasn’t your answer, then you probably should take a step back and start from the beginning. Basic, practical preparedness is the foundation for all prepping– no matter how far you are willing to take it.
The Influence of Doomsday Preppers on TV
Did the popular TV show “Doomsday Preppers” get you to this point? That may be another red flag. The show was presented from a biased view in order to sensationalize preparedness idiosyncrasies. Sure, the show was entertaining as could be- but you need to keep in mind that the featured preppers are far from the norm- especially when considering practical applications. We certainly do not discount their intent- but the execution for many featured in the show was poorly planned and even comedic at times.
Stepping Your Prepping Up a Notch
So you are ready for the next step? Going forward, we will assume that you have already accomplished the following towards practical preparedness:
To step your prepping up from a practical level to a doomsday prepper level, you need to consider doomsday scenarios. Furthering your risk analysis into lower probability events (such as doomsday events) can help you identify what you need to look at.
Possible Doomsday Scenarios
We touch on a few of these when we examined When SHTF. There are a slew of ways the world could end, and there are even fewer scenarios where survival in any capacity is possible. A few of the TEOTWAWKI events where increased preparedness levels makes sense include:
Space Weather (Large Event Solar Flares, Asteroid Impacts, etc…)
The last point here is maybe one of the most important points we can make. We cannot predict everything that could possibly happen, so preparing for the unknown makes sense. From aliens to the Rapture, do not confuse highly improbable with impossible.
How to Become a Doomsday Prepper
Since you are: A) a seasoned practical prepper and B) well informed on possible doomsday scenarios, you are ready to take the next step. You will likely need plenty of resources (mostly time and money) to prepare for high impact, low probability doomsday events. Here is how to take each pillar of prepping to the next level:
Shelter – you need to drastically improve your security and survivability in any scenario. Bunkers (ex: buried containers) are the go-to solution for this, since they do a good job with security, radiation shielding, etc. Your bunker needs to be large enough to store your supplies, fitted with an air filtration system, and have a renewable water source- just to name a few requirements. It should be comfortable enough to survive in for several years, if not longer.
Food – long-term food storage is good and well, but you need a renewable source. You should have food storage figured out from practical prepping, but you need to drastically increase your storage for a doomsday event. Many turn to farming rabbits or other small animals as a sustainable food source, but that can snowball into more prepping issues feeding the rabbits and disposing of waste.
Water – We touched on this with shelter, but a well and a backup water source (such as a recycler) are needed to weather an apocalyptic event. Jugs of water, a bathtub, or even a rain collection system will not be enough.
Security – Some preppers opt to go the ‘no-gun’ route when practically prepping. While this is questionable for some of the more common events, it is an especially dangerous proposition when it comes to TEOTWAKI events. Ammo supply is key, so your stock should be bolstered to improve survivability on a longer timeline.
Knowledge – All of these tips are just the tip of the iceberg. You need to acquire much more knowledge and know-how than you currently have as a practical prepper. In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, knowledge is worth quite a bit and can even be barterable. Learn up on ideas and practical skills that could easily be lost.
The Final Word
Getting geared up for doomsday events is like the capstone project of prepping. Once you have accomplished everything else and are prepared to be self-sufficient, preparing for the absolute worst makes sense. Doomsday preppers are on the fringe of prepping for good reason- and it is not just public perception. It changes your lifestyle, affects your resources, and can even consume you if you are not careful. Stay grounded in practicality and remember all of the reasons why you prep in the first place: family, friends, country and God. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
A doomsday documentary used to be just what people needed to jumpstart their prepping motivation. Fortunately, most of the older documentaries have fallen flat when it comes to predictions and dates. Some doomsday documentaries are relevant and provide good insight into events that could lead to a doomsday. Most of these doomsday scenarios are low risk (as shown by our TrueRisk Analysis). Most preppers do not prepare for these immediately, but instead push for basic preparedness with doomsday prepping as a capstone to it all. Still- it is important to know the possibilities, which is where a doomsday documentary can come in handy. Here are a few doomsday documentaries worth watching:
Doomsday Earth's Final Moments Documentary Documentary Channel - YouTube
This documentary goes into the end time, final days, or ‘eschaton’ period described by most Abrahamic religions. It is interesting whether or not you are familiar with biblical prophecies.
Ancient Prophecies: Countdown to Doomsday
2006 – Originally Aired on SciFi – 66% rating (IMDB)
Ancient Prophecies II - Countdown to Doomsday - YouTube
This documentary was part two of a VHS cassette bundle. Plenty of the predictions don’t hold weight anymore since they are past the prophecy date. It is still pretty entertaining to watch and worth understanding the fallacy of selected apocalypse dates.
2020 Last Days on Earth
2014 – YouTube – 78% rating (YouTube)
LAST DAYS ON EARTH - YouTube
This doomsday documentary paints a bleak picture and leans towards a pessimistic timeline for extinction events. Despite the self-loathing, it does discuss potential doomsdays scenarios in detail.
The Doomsday Clock (Modern Marvels)
2005 – History Channel – 1 hour 6 min runtime – 76% rating (IMDB)
Modern Marvels S11E16 Doomsday Clock - YouTube
This documentary goes past the discussion of the Doomsday Clock developed by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and looks at the events that affect the clock. The clock hands move based on their agreed probability of these events, which is just a fancy risk analysis exercise. The doomsday clock is either over exaggerated or brushed off by the media at this point, but it is still interesting to see the reasoning behind its creation.
The Final Word
Documentaries are a great way to learn about something fast, but they can also spread misinformation or just distracting information. A risk analysis trumps a man-made prophecy almost every time, so research and proper planning is the way to go about prepping. Don’t get too absorbed or depressed about possible doomsday scenarios. Keep in mind that they are low probability. Learning about them can equip you with knowledge that could help if one were to happen. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
I got to use some cutting edge gear while teaching military members how to avoid and deal with chemical, biological, and radiological contamination. We had laser and spectrometry equipped tools that totaled millions of dollars to help us identify threats. We wore protective suits that cost thousands of dollars while exposed to actual chemical threats. Then, one day in late 2009, they brought us RSDL. We had all of this high tech gear and protection for training and we get ‘pouches of goo’ for decontamination. Well, it turns out that it worked pretty darn well and didn’t cost thousands of dollars when it came time to re-order. What is RSDL? We’ll get to that, how it works, and a few experiences I’ve had with it in this post.
What is RSDL?
RSDL is an acronym for Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion which comes in pouch kits for decontaminating direct skin exposure to many types of chemical weapons. It is a relatively new decontamination kit for the military, and a brand new kit as far as general purchase. When you tear open the pouch, you find a gel-filled sponge that absorbs and neutralizes chemicals. It is meant to be applied to bare skin, but can be used on equipment and vehicles as well. The gel has the consistency of honey, so it gets between the fingers pretty good. RSDL replaced the M291 decontamination kit, which is a small activated charcoal pad meant to be worn on the fingers. The large activated charcoal mitt (M295) is still in service.
The lotion is considered an upgrade because it is easily washable, less toxic, and is a FDA approved medical device. Users claim, and I can tell you, that it is easier to apply than the charcoal kits.
How Does the RSDL Pad Work?
The RSDL pad is a sponge filled with lotion that neutralizes chemical warfare agents and weaponized toxins, and then allows for easy removal from skin. The active ingredient in the lotion is proven in lab tests to neutralize these chemical agents starting within two minutes:
RSDL is very simple to use. First you identify contamination. If you do not know how to identify signs of chemical contamination, we’ve covered this topic before. Next, open the packet at one of the notches to remove the coated sponge. Next, wipe the contaminated spot by scrubbing with the RSDL sponge. Finally, rinse the lotion off when you are in a non-contaminated area. Depending on where you get your RSDL kit, it may come with a training sponge in a blue pouch. If it does, I highly recommend that you use the training device so you know how to quickly open, apply, and flush the kit. It will help you know about how much coverage you can get out of one pouch and get used to the consistency of the lotion in the sponge.
Why Have RSDL?
RSDL, while a niche preparedness tool, is one of the few tools you can own that can neutralize a chemical warfare agent. There are many ways to deal with radiation hazards and biological attacks, but chemical weapons pose a unique threat. Many have talked about the importance of recognizing chemical threats:
“The threat of chemical terrorism must now be regarded as very real, and measures to address it must be assigned much higher priority” – Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General
“What we saw was total death. Nothing was alive. All of the animals had come out of their holes to die. Dead rabbits, moles, and rats and mice were everywhere. […] the trenches were empty but in a half mile the bodies of French soldiers were everywhere. […] You could see where men had clawed at their faces, and throats, trying to get breath. Some had shot themselves. The horses, still in the stables, cows, chickens, everything; all were dead. Everything, even the insects were dead.” – Willi Siebert, German soldier that witnessed the first ever chlorine gas attack during World War I
We give chemical attacks a low risk score in our TrueRisk index, but it is important to differentiate between low risk and no risk. The TrueRisk index is a tool to prioritize the risks; not to ignore them.
RSDL Unboxing and Demo
RSDL Unboxing and Demonstration - YouTube
How to Buy RSDL
It seems like a pretty simple process- hop online and grab some from an online vendor. The problem is that RSDL, like many decontamination kits, has a shelf life. I’m always about maximizing shelf life and the best way to do this is through the approved vendor. Not only will you get the most recent production, but you can know it has been stored properly and didn’t cook in a warehouse for a few years. This is the type of gear that you should buy the right way, and not second-hand. The main vendor for RSDL is the Emergent BioSolutions lab, which obviously have the real just-manufactured kits ready to ship fast. Alternatively, if you don’t care about shelf life, you can source RSDL through military surplus sources.
A Few Words of Caution
There are a few things you should be mindful of with RSDL:
Do not use prior to chemical exposure (it doesn’t work that way).
Avoid unnecessary exposure. Do not leave on skin for excessive periods. Use training RSDL for training and demonstration purposes.
Do not eat RSDL or use RSDL on your eyes.
Do not store or combine with oxidizing chemicals, such as bleach. A chemical reaction can occur causing a fire hazard.
Most of these warnings may seem like common sense- but people can make bad decisions when presented with threats that they do not encounter often. That is just another reason why training for all situations makes sense.
The Material Safety Data Sheet can break down even further what you need to know about the Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion kit: RSDL MSDS 2006
The RSDL Company and Manufacturer
E-Z-EM, Inc was the first manufacturer awarded with the RSDL contract by the Department of Home Security (DHS) in 2007. Emergent BioSolutions acquired them in 2013 which added RSDL to their portfolio of products. Late 2017, Emergent BioSolutions made RSDL available to the civilian population through industrial supply stores and online.
The Final Word
RSDL made our life easier in the military, and it makes a great addition to any specialized decontamination kit. The lotion kit is easy to use, works well, and has a long shelf life. RSDL is a solid decontamination solution that you should consider adding to a specialized chemical kit for additional protection. Like most specialized kits, the chance that you will use them is low but the equipment is simply irreplaceable in the event that you need it. Know the risks in your area, and get the proper equipment to protect yourself in case SHTF. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
Just because you’re a famous celebrity doesn’t mean you can’t encounter hardship, disasters, and SHTF. Some movie stars, world-class athletes, and business giants know this and choose to be die hard survivalists and preppers. Sure, there are plenty of survivalist celebrities out there but the surprising ones are not Bear Grylls or Les Stroud. There are plenty more celebrity preppers that choose to be less outspoken than the ones below.
Maybe it isn’t a surprise that Captain Malcolm Reynolds of the cult classic “Firefly” is a zombie prepper. He also stars on the TV show “Castle”. He went on Conan Tonight and talked about how he is a self-taught welder so he can armor up his SUV for the zombie apocalypse:
Nathan Fillion: Halloween-Loving Super-Welder - CONAN on TBS - YouTube
Rousey, known for beating faces in the UFC octagon and as an Olympic medalist, is a prepper that lives with her husband on a homestead in Southern California. She may no longer be duking it out in the octagon but she is ready for SHTF. The millions she made in her career could not hurt her chances, and she’s chosen to spend it on a mostly-independent homestead and a lot of goats. She explains herself:
A lot of these skills that were common place, every generation we know less and less and less about them because it makes people money for us not to know. Every single person in here their survival plan is a grocery store. If all the grocery stores closed, what would you do? That’s a scary thought.
Zooey usually plays the ditsy, fun-loving character in her TV and movie rolls but the planning she talks about for disasters shows how sensible she really is.
Zooey Deschanel Loves To Be Prepared For A Disaster - CONAN on TBS - YouTube
Roseanne, the popular comedian/actress from, well… Roseanne is a very active advocate for prepping. She has tweeted:
In America: be prepared by organizing with your neighbors to grow wholesome food/store water/vitamins/guns.
She was very critical of former president Obama by stating that he “has no ideas, no plan and nothing to add other than the cynical pacification of the masses with bedtime stories about hope.”
Jamie Lee Curtis
Curtis is the type of prepper that believes the more people are prepped; the better it is for everyone. She is a Red Cross advocate and has consistently supported them in their mission to teach the importance of preparedness.
What's In My Survival Kit - YouTube
Being a prepper is probably the least impactful ‘outing’ Seacrest has had lately. It is hard to feel sorry for the fella, but it is pretty lame when you get outed as a prepper when you don’t intend to share that you are prepared for a wide variety of situations. The National Enquirer obviously doesn’t care, and outed Seacrest as a prepper in late 2017.
The Final Word
Don’t leave the prepping to the rich and the famous. Being prepared for disaster does not have to break the bank since the most important part of preparedness is recognizing realistic possibilities. Make sure you are prepared for the many risks in this world by checking out our TrueRisk index to help you prioritize your risks. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
Gas masks may seem stereotypical for prepping (just look at our logo and author biographies) but they are an important piece of protective equipment for a variety of situations. Sticklers may insist on calling them ‘protective masks’ since they can protect you from more than just gas. A gas mask has already saved my life against chemical weapons and biological threats. It gives a fighting chance against some radiation exposure as well. I taught classes on gas masks to thousands of military personnel for several years. I have even worn one while exposed to live chemical warfare agents and can assure you that they work. In this guide, we will go over:
7 Important Fast Facts about Gas Masks
Types of Gas Masks
My Experience with Different Masks
Gas Mask Rating Types
Where to Buy a Gas Mask
TruePrepper Suggested Gas Mask
How to Make Sure a Gas Mask Fits
What Kits to Include a Gas Mask In
Troubleshooting and Maintaining Gas Masks
Additional Gear Needed With a Gas Mask
Drawbacks of Gas Masks
You should have some solid takeaways from this ultimate gas mask guide and be confident in selecting and maintaining a mask perfect for you and your family.
7 Important Fast Facts about Gas Masks:
You can never have enough spare filters.
You can improve the time it takes to put on your mask 300% with practice.
Gas masks are hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable for long periods.
Gas masks protect from a wide range of respiratory risks associated with many types of attacks, accidents, and disasters.
A gas mask does not ‘fix’ exposure- put the mask on before you are exposed as quickly as possible!
Beards do not cooperate with gas masks and can cause leaks.
Surplus gas masks were decommissioned for a reason. They may not protect you when it really matters.
Types of Gas Masks
Gas masks have been around for a while, and there are many different types. Many countries work independently to develop their own masks. Up until recently, even our armed forces branches worked separately to develop their gas masks. As a CBRN technician that oversaw the operation of training gas chambers and base-wide training exercises over the course of my service, I encountered many types of masks. Some of the most notable types of masks that you may encounter include:
US Military M17 Protective Mask – This is the mask that was standard issue during the Vietnam war for all US Military components. One major flaw with the mask was the need to remove the mask to swap filters.
US Military M40 Protective Mask – This mask has distinctive lenses for each eye and is one of the heavier options. It serviced the US Army and Marine Corp. It was replaced at the beginning of the century by the M50 mask. It uses the 40mm NATO C2 charcoal canister filters.
US Military MCU-2A/PProtective Mask – This was the mask of choice for the Navy and Air Force for a lengthy period. Whether the mask is an A or P variant doesn’t change much- it designates whether the mask is set up for aircrew or not. The mask replaced the M17 mask and was replaced by the M50 mask. It had problems handling blister agent chemical weapons, and some were even issued with a ‘second skin’ as an additional barrier. They use 40mm NATO C2 charcoal canisters. We have a full review of the MCU-2P here.
US Military M50 Protective Mask – This is the current mask servicing all components of the US military. The M50 was developed cooperatively by all branches to meet the need of having a balanced tough mask that does not interfere with firearm operation or block the field of view.
Israeli 4A Military/Civilian Gas Mask – These masks are often available on the secondary market since the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) issued them to all Israeli citizens. It uses 40mm NATO canisters which are also relatively easy to find on the second hand market.
MSA Firehawk Full Face Respirator – This is a standard issue mask for many firefighters as part of a SCBA setup. It also has a CBRN attachment using a charcoal filter with a long hose. This hose helps with breathing in smoky environments, since the filter can be lower on the body and smoke rises.
3M 6800 Full Face Respirator – This versatile civilian mask is used by fire departments, hazmat teams, and laboratory personnel. There are a variety of filters widely available, as well as powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) and supplied air setups (SCBA).
I have traveled the globe teaching people how to use various type of gas masks along with other disaster related training. I have plenty of experience using the MCU-2P, M50, Firehawk, and the 6800 in environments that were life threatening. I’ve also had my hands on the Israeli mask, M40, M17, Land Warrior, Czech M10, Dragr PAPR 4500, Soviet GP-5, and even some relic masks from WWI. I know how a solid mask with a good fit can save your life from direct experience. Sometimes the little things about the mask make the biggest difference. The gas mask field of view and how easy the filters are to breathe through can make accomplishing tasks a world of difference. Switching my classes from the MCU-2P to the M50 made a world of difference in the number of heat exhaustion incidents we had in the desert. A drinking tube attachment on the military masks helped with this too.
Gas Mask Rating Types
There is some misinformation out there as to what actually counts as a gas mask. “Gas mask” is just a term for a full-face respirator equipped to handle chemical gas hazards. There are full and half face respirators that only handle particulates, but the full-face masks with the correct filters are considered gas masks. Just like there are many models of gas masks developed over the years, there are also several ratings for both masks and filters. Ranging from MILSPEC to NIOSH/OSHA requirements, these ratings can let you know what kind of protection you can expect from a mask. If a mask does not meet any standard or requirement, you should probably look elsewhere. If a mask or filter doesn’t have a rating, it could be a prop mask, costume mask, or even for airsoft. Make sure you have a real mask and filter with a real rating. Mask filters can have many ratings but here are the important ones for survival and prepping purposes:
NBC rating: The filter is verified and rated to withstand Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical threats for at least an 8-hour period.
CBA/RCA rating: The filter is verified and rated to withstand Chemical Blowing and Riot Control Agents for at least an 8-hour period.
Specialty ratings: There are other rating where a filter can be rated to protect from a specific NBC or HAZMAT threat.
Mask ratings are complex but can be broken down by who approved them:
NIOSH rating: NIOSH gives us the widely known rating of N95, which can be found on the small cloth masks used extensively in the medical field and other applications. Most gas masks fit the N95 rating, which simply means it filters out 95% of airborne particles. The rating is good for the elastic band mouth covering, but does not mean much if you are looking for complete protection. The NIOSH ratings can be more easily understood with a table:
Rating Letter Class
Rating Number Class
N – Not oil resistant
95 – Removes 95% of all particles
R – Resistant to oil
99 – Removes 99% of all particles
P – Oil Proof
100 – Removes 99.97% of all particles (HEPA)
These letters and numbers combine to give the rating, so P100 is one of the best ratings NIOSH gives respirators. This shows that an N95 mask is better than nothing, but definitely not the best solution in life or death situations.
MIL-SPEC rating: The main MIL-SPEC rating associated with gas masks is the PRF-EA-10003 rating. This encompasses the NBC and CBRN protection factor combined with how the mask withstands abuse in the field. It is an aggressive rating that only one mask has achieved: the M50 JSGPM (Joint Service General Purpose Mask).
As you can see, masks themselves are rated to MIL-SPEC or NIOSH penetration standards, but filters are rated to the actual threat. Plenty of people say “this mask is NBC rated”, which is a misconception, because the filters are actually rated and the mask is NIOSH and possibly MIL-SPEC rated.
Where to Buy a Gas Mask
There are a few options when it comes to buying a gas mask:
Military Surplus – This option can be risky. Masks have become much better over time and older masks can show signs of degradation. Also, filters may be harder to get a hold of. If the mask is not second hand, and filters are readily available, then a quality military gas mask from a surplus store is a good find. This video does a great job at breaking down potential issues of getting a gas mask from a surplus supplier:
The Truth about Surplus Gas Masks - YouTube
Industrial Supply – Industrial supply stores often sell respirators with filters that go beyond the capability of military masks. The downside is that they are not designed to withstand the same abuse as military masks. A 3M 6800 or related mask can set you back a few hundred dollars from an industrial supply store- so they are not the cheapest option either.
Online – You can find almost anything online these days. Getting a second-hand mask online is very risky since you cannot inspect the mask beforehand for disbanding or any other red flag that may indicate the mask is past its service life. New masks are a good option online as long as you recognize the mask. Novelty masks and prop masks are available, so make sure you know which model and how effective the mask truly is.
Our Suggested Gas Mask
I have tried almost all of the military issued CBRN masks and trained thousands on many various types around the world. The one I always go back to is from my days as a HAZMAT responder- the 3M 6800. This mask is so lightweight and versatile but it still has great functionality. It is easy to breathe through (without fogging) and does not have pinch-point problems some older masks have. It received the highest rating from NIOSH and meets ANSI Z87.1-2003 impact requirements making it durable both on and off your face. The filters and accessories are widely available and easy to find. There is also great component support through 3M and other vendors if you need to replace or change out parts of the mask- or just get spare parts in general. One of the most important parts is that the mask does not break the bank, and can be found for around $100 online and $150 in industrial supply stores. The filters are relatively cheap, allowing you to stock up on them if needed. We suggest the 3M 60923 Organic Vapor/Acid Gas Filters since they are great for most CBRN/NBC/HAZMAT applications and run about $20 per pair.
If you are looking for MILSPEC, we obviously suggest the M50 gas mask (Civilian manufacturer is Avon) although you will pay more for it. It offers more impact protection than the 6800, a drinking tube, ballistic lens, and M61 filters. Expect to pay over $400 for these with the filters at $40 per pair. Be careful when selecting one of these, since there are several knockoffs as kids like to wear these when playing airsoft. Buying from the Avon 3M manufacturer is a good idea. We did a whole write up on our experience with the M50, so check it out for more information: M50 Gas Mask Review.
How to Make Sure a Gas Mask Fits
Unlike a hat or clothing, medium sized gas masks usually fit a wide range of people. Masks need to fit your face, and your head size does not matter as much since straps are usually adjustable. Small children and those with smaller faces will need a small mask or specially developed infant mask. Large masks are rare but are needed by a few with very large faces. A staggering 90% of adults will fit in a medium gas mask. Even if you have a mask that is the proper size does not mean it fits. Proper fitting ensures that the mask has created a seal with your skin and that your breathing is creating positive pressure within the mask. Here are the easy to follow steps to make sure you have a good fit:
Loosen the mask straps completely and pull them over the front of the mask and out of the way.
Roll the mask on, planting your chin firmly in the chin cup first and then seating the nose cup in place.
Hold the mask in place while you pull the straps over the back of your head.
Tighten the straps. If there are multiple straps, tighten the middle first, then the top, and then the bottom straps last.
Check the seal of the mask by covering the filters with your hands and inhaling sharply. The mask should pull in slightly and not allow any air in. If it does not, re-fit your mask by following steps 1-4 again.
Remove the mask by only loosening the bottom straps and pulling the chin cup out and over your face.
Store the mask with straps over the front for rapid access. Store the mask with straps inside the mask for longer periods to prevent them from stretching and wearing out.
A few reasons a mask may not fit is due to the sizing. The full-face mask may have different sizing options, as well as the nose cup. Some variants, like the M50 or 6800 offer a variety of nose-cup and facemask combinations to ensure the best comfort in the mask. Banana oil / isoamyl acetate is often used by professionals to ensure a good fit. You can grab some ampules for very cheap online that are great for breaking open with your mask on. If you can smell it, then you have a gas mask fit issue- pretty straightforward. Guys should note that beards do not cooperate well with gas masks getting a good seal. A hygiene kit with shaving equipment can come in handy in the event of a pandemic or CBRN situation.
1939-1945 A mule being fitted for a gas mask by a soldier in the British Indian army. Even a mule needs a good fit. pic.twitter.com/QewFOXlVzc
You hear a series of loud, concussive THUMPs that rattle your home late at night. Several minutes later, a creeping fog is rolling in just outside of your windows. Is it a chemical attack? HAZMAT accident? Radiation cloud? Bioterrorism release? It doesn’t matter- your first action addresses them all: grab your gas mask.
An approved and functional gas mask provides protection from all of the scenarios above in most situations where they would occur. Protecting your airway is a priority in each of these, since they are most susceptible to exposure. It is important to put on your own mask before assisting others. Otherwise, you could be quickly incapacitated and unable to help anyone. The above scenario actually describes a chemical attack. Bombs armed with chemical weapons do not create fireballs like conventional bombs, because they would burn up the payload and make it much less effective. They are typically loaded in cluster payloads and would be delivered to the target at night when the gas is less volatile due to temperature.
Survival Kits that Need Gas Masks
You can include a gas mask in almost any survival kit. Some survival kits it makes a whole lot more sense than others, though. A simple N95 mask may be acceptable to include in a lightweight GHB (Get Home Bag) or BOB (Bug Out Bag). A gas mask really excels in Specialized Kits, however. Here are some specialized kits that really should include a gas mask for each member of your family:
NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical) Kit
Radiological Incident Kit
If you require one of these kits based on threats in your area, then you should include a gas mask in them. You can learn more about identifying threats in our TrueRisk section, which breaks down risk as simply probability and impact for possible scenarios and rates them with a TrueRisk score. Additional kits that could include a gas mask, but are not necessarily standard are:
Gas masks are usually not practical for Everyday Carry (EDC) use due to their size, weight, and public perception. A hygiene kit with shaving equipment is a good idea to keep close to a mask, since beards can prevent a gas mask from sealing, making them useless.
Troubleshooting, Maintaining, and Inspecting Gas Masks
Most gas masks are tough, but there are some problems that could occur if they are not cared for properly. The rubber and silicon can disband from the facemask. Straps can dry rot; metal components can rust and degrade. Masks can deform if stored improperly. Many older masks and military surplus have issues with yellowing lenses. The point is that gas masks are not fail proof, and you have to take care of them to keep them in life-saving condition. This is one of the reasons why new masks are the way to go when buying a gas mask.
Troubleshooting a gas mask is relatively easy. If a mask is difficult to breathe through, replace the filter and see if it improves. If it does not, you should look at the inlet valve behind the filter(s) to determine if there is debris or a problem in the operation. If positive pressure from exhaling is causing your mask to ‘unseat’ you may have an issue with your outlet valve. If you are having problem with the mask having or keeping a seal, you should follow or mask fit instructions above. If these steps do not fix the problem, inspect the mask for disbonding described below.
Maintaining a gas mask is easy too. Keep your mask debris free and wash it after use, even if it is not contaminated. Use a warm soapy water solution to wash the mask after removing the filters and head harness. Do not use bleach or alcohol wipes since they will yellow mask lenses and damage silicon and bonding material.
Inspecting a gas mask can save your life. Gas masks aren’t bulletproof as far as problems go, and sometimes they can be hidden. Run your finger along each bonded seam in your mask looking for signs of separation. Inspect filter attachment areas for cross threading if applicable. If your mask has metal components, look for signs of rust or corrosion. If you run across any of these red flags, the mask should be cut across the face shield and discarded as unusable.
Additional Gear Needed With a Gas Mask
A gas mask is great for protecting your face and your respiratory tract, but what about the rest of your body, your home, and even your equipment? A mask should be supplemented with key supplies and accessories to complete the protective outfit. You should include:
Gas masks are not the easy cure-all for everything that could happen. There are plenty of situations where a gas mask cannot help. Here is a quick list to keep in mind as you get you mask ready for your survival kit:
A standard gas mask cannot supply oxygen in an oxygen-depleted environment.
They are not meant as a protective covering for ballistics or debris.
Masks can provide a false sense of security if worn improperly or the wrong type.
Gas masks can increase the chance of heat exhaustion.
You cannot eat or drink in a gas mask (unless it is equipped with a drinking tube and adapter).
Some masks limit your vision.
Some masks are more difficult to breathe through, making physical activity difficult.
If you have a beard, a gas mask will not seal correctly.
If you keep these drawbacks in mind, gas masks are still useful and can save your life. It is better to be prepared and not need a gas mask than to need one and not have it. South Koreans even have gas masks postured for rapid access in their subway system:
Seoul Subway Gas Masks - YouTube
The Final Word
I hope that by now you feel like an expert on anything and everything gas mask related. It felt like a trip down memory lane getting this information together, since I have taught thousands on the benefits, use, and upkeep of gas masks. Just getting a mask is not enough- you need to know how to use it,..
Pandemics and the most well-known lottery (the Powerball) actually have quite a lot in common. The outcomes are very different, of course. The Powerball makes a lucky group or individual very rich while a pandemic wipes out a chunk of the world’s population. The math and models associated with the two are similar though. We will talk about the predictive model math, including probabilities and impact in this article and look at how the results can affect us.
The probability for hitting the jackpot with the Powerball is currently 1 in 292,201,338. Pretty small odds! In January 13, 2016 the jackpot was a whopping $1.6 billion. The jackpot climbs high very quickly once it reaches a large amount because it draws in more players and more repeat ticket sales from the same players. Once the jackpot passes a $584 million pot, the expected value given the odds times the ticket cost actually passes the ticket value, if there is only a single winner. Passing this psychological barrier causes lottery players to dig deeper and play with more money and lures more casual players in to play as well. The result is very similar to an outbreak researched by epidemiology (the study of disease outbreaks). All of these players and extra tickets increase the probability that the game will ‘hit’ and pay out at least one jackpot winner. All of these players and extra tickets also increase the impact of the game by drastically increasing the jackpot value at a fervent rate.
Epidemiology and the Calculation of Risk
We have put it out there many times: The risk calculation is simply probability multiplied by impact. The Powerball is strictly regulated and reported- so we know the exact probability (the listed odds) and the approximate impact (the listed pot). Pandemics are a little harder to get a grasp on. Scientists pull from historical data to learn about epidemics and pandemics. They also perform tests with diseases in lab simulations to understand both the probability of occurrence on a timeline and the impact. Even with simulations, experts agree that the next pandemic will catch the world by surprise.
Rising Risk for Pandemics
Experts point to the fact that world security against disease outbreaks is only as strong as the weakest countries. Poor and underserved countries offer a potential outbreak a breeding ground to manifest quickly, without rapid reporting or treatment available. Both the probability and the impact of a pandemic outbreak are growing due to seven main reasons:
The World Population is Growing
People are Inhabiting New Environments
Flora and Fauna Displacement
More People are Traveling the Globe More Frequently
Civil Conflict is Affecting More People
The Doctor to Person Ratio is Dropping in Outbreak Regions
Information (And Panic) is Spread Quickly
“Gentlemen, it is the microbes who will have the last word.” – Louis Pasteur (French chemist and microbiologist)
The Experts Weigh In
Peter Sands, the chair of the Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future says, “Pandemics represent a real threat to human security.” He details in a recent report that new diseases will emerge and spread much faster in the 21st century than they did in the 19th. Larry Brilliant, a renown epidemiologist, reported that 90% of surveyed epidemiologists believed a pandemic will occur within their children or grandchildren’s lifetimes of at least this magnitude:
1 Billion Sick
165 Million Dead
Contribute to Global Recession/Depression
$1-3 Trillion Economic Cost
The Spanish Flu of 1918
We use this example often to show how quietly devastating a pandemic was only a century ago. It was not covered extensively in history class (as far as I can remember), which is a pity given how it affected the entire world. Here are the quick facts:
Killed 3-6% of the world’s total population
One of the first H1N1 pandemics
Over 500 million infected worldwide (30%+ of population, 28% in the US)
Unusually aggressive viral strain
Effects of the pandemic were censored in US, UK, France, and Germany
The source or ‘patient zero’ likely originated in China
The Powerball Pandemic Link
The Powerball has linked probability and impact in a very similar way a pandemic does. A rising population and the other six risk elevators listed above give pandemics more potential fuel in the same way more players in the Powerball raise the jackpot. Global society has the ability to reduce some of these risk elevators, but the chances of this happening are not likely prior to an outbreak. Unfortunately, history shows that it takes an actual occurrence to get the attention needed. When this occurrence happens, there will not be a lucky winner with a windfall of jackpot money. Instead there will be a world caught off guard and unprepared.
The Final Word
A pandemic should be on your prepping radar if it is not already. Experts agree and history shows that it is not a matter of ‘IF’ with pandemics, but a matter of ‘WHEN’. Knowing what to do and how to protect yourself and your family can give you a leg up ‘when’ any disease outbreak occurs. Communication technology and protective gear has been improving over the years as the pandemic risk grows. Staying up to date makes sense and does not require many resources. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
Prepper audiobooks are a great way to get through a book and learn a few things without having to sit around. Physical books take precious time to sit down and read through and I always feel a little lazy reading a book since it feels like I am not being very productive. Audiobooks fix this, since I can work on my preps, mow the lawn, commute to work- all while listening to a book!
Audiobooks Have Changed and They Can Change Your Prepping
Audiobooks used to be annoying; you had to have several CDs or many cassettes and records to swap out between chapters. You had to hang out at your sound system to listen to them, or save them for a road trip. This is no longer the case. You can fit virtually all the prepping audiobooks available onto your phone and listen to them hands-free doing anything you want. This makes them great for multi-taskers like myself. If you are enthusiastic about staying up to date on prepping- it is a no-brainer.
The Top Audiobook Platform
There are plenty of ways to get your hands on audiobooks, but one of the most popular options and the one I use is Audible. It is an Amazon company that lets you subscribe and listen to audiobooks. They have a free trial that gives you two books for free. It’s definitely worth checking out- even if it’s just for the free books. In the list of the best prepper audiobooks below, I’ll put the Audible link for each book and you can just sign up for the free trial if you are not already a member.
The 10 Best Prepper Audiobooks
Here is our list of the ten best prepper audiobooks and where to download them.
10/10 American Exit Strategy by Mark Goodwin (Fiction, Book 1 of an acclaimed series)
Realism is what Goodwin strives for, basing his dystopian fiction on a very possible financial meltdown. Although the method of the meltdown is certainly fiction, the grim aftermath could be a glimpse into the future. The book is a good listen at almost eight hours. Find it on Audible HERE.
9/10 Going Home by A. American (Fiction, Book 1 of an acclaimed series)
This book borderline glorifies an apocalyptic trek, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. The protagonist has it relatively easy for someone enduring SHTF, but this allows the author to explore other concepts. The audiobook is a nice length at thirteen hours long. Find it on Audible HERE.
8/10 Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual by Mykel Hawke (Non-Fiction)
Mykel Hawke is a well known survivalist and former Green Beret (obviously). He is featured on TV shows and has his own survival training company called Spec Ops Inc. He offers one of the longest books on the list at 15 and a half hours long. It is definitely wilderness survival focused, but any prepper can find useful information in this audiobook. Find it on Audible HERE.
7/10 Seal Survival Guide by Cade Courtley (Non-Fiction)
Courtley covers a wide span of survival, from improvised weapons all the way to pandemic survival. The result is a step-by-step guide that can help a beginning prepper or experience prepper looking to hone their skills. It is almost ten hours of content, so there is plenty to digest. Find it on Audible HERE.
6/10 The Journey Home: An EMP Survival Story by John Winchester (Fiction, Book 1 of an acclaimed series)
Winchester crafts a story on how disasters usually don’t occur when it is convenient. The protagonist finds himself in a pickle when an EMP cripples the country as he is thousands of miles from home and his prepping stash. The book is six and a half hours long and serves as a great warning about preparedness on the move. Find it on Audible HERE.
5/10 Long Road to Survival by Lee Bradford (Fiction, Book 1 of an acclaimed series)
This series is sparked by a nuclear attack on all of the port cities. We all know how devestating that could be to our infrastructure and society, and Bradford does a great job of showing how tensions escalate under pressure. It is a short four hour listen. Find it on Audible HERE.
4/10 Prepper’s Survival Medicine Handbook by Timothy S. Morris (Non-Fiction)
This is a basic rundown of what should be in a medical kit with ideas and skills that you need to know. It is a very short listen at a little over an hour. Find it on Audible HERE.
3/10 The Survivalist: Frontier Justice by Arthur T. Bradley (Fiction, Book 1 of an acclaimed series)
Superpox-99 has wiped out the majority of the population in this popular fiction novel. Bradley details a true worst-case scenario right on the edge of impossible, but with a tone that has you feel as if you were there. If you are looking for something different, be sure to check it out. The audiobook lasts five and a half hours, but it seems like it goes by quicker. Find it on Audible HERE.
2/10 Pandemic: The Extinction Files by A.G. Riddle (Fiction, Book 1 of an acclaimed series)
Mr. Riddle can write an intense novel, as he demonstrates in this book about an outbreak originating in Kenya. It will keep you on the edge of your seat for all 19 hours. Find it on Audible HERE.
1/10 One Second After by William R. Forstchen (Fiction, Book 1 of an acclaimed series)
This novel is set in my backyard- North Carolina and is a harrowing tale/warning of the consequences of an EMP detonation. The book has helped many get into prepping and is definitely a good listen. The run time is about 13 ½ hours- so it will last you a good while if you don’t binge it! Find it on Audible HERE.
The Final Word
Staying informed is important but it is still hard to make time for. Audiobooks let you double up on time you are already doing other things. I like to listen on my commute, while doing yardwork, and sometimes even just relaxing. It never hurts to stay sharp and continue learning. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
I have had plenty of MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) in my lifetime, having served in the military for several years. They toss you your first ones in basic training and you get to sample the many types throughout the training, exercises, and deployments you experience. They are compact with lightweight packaging and include a chemical heater. These make them great for bug out bags and other survival kits. It is also a good idea to try the different types and decide which you like best. Even though it is not as bad as not having any food at all- a batch of MREs you can hardly stomach will not boost your morale in an emergency. In this article, we will look at some of my experiences with MREs and list out some of the best pouches you can get your hands on. Feel free to chime in with your favorite MRE number too.
MRE Variety Can Help
Some people complain that MREs are bland and not palatable, and that this gets worse as you continue eating the same ones. Sometimes, boxed batches would only include a single type of MRE, which made eating them a bland task. Even some of the most popular MRE options will be unexciting if you are sitting down to eat them for the 10th time in a row. William Cowper put it best in some poem he wrote; “Variety is the very spice of life.”
The Latest MRE Menu List
MREs are constantly havening their menus updated for taste preferences, nutrition, and calorie count. Here is the latest menu, in order:
Chili with Beans, Corn Bread, Cheddar Cheese Spread, Crackers, Cheese Filled Snack Food, Carbohydrate Fortified Beverage Powder
Southwest Beef and Black Beans, Spiced Apples, Pound Cake, Cheddar Cheese Spread, Chipotle Tortillas, Meat Snack, Mocha Cappuccino Drink Mix
I have had most, although probably older versions, of everything on this list. The few standouts that I know I have tried include most of the vegetarian options (I avoid them), and the 21- Lemon Pepper Tuna. Notably missing is the Scrambled Egg MRE, which usually got a strong reaction from people. They either loved it or hated it, and I was firmly in the ‘hate it’ crowd. My favorites include Menu 10: Chili Mac, and Menu 1: Chili with Beans. I prefer to stay away from anything chicken, since it is a little chewy. Personal preference is obviously a big factor here, since there are so many to choose from.
Cracking the Code of Generic Names
They like to list out things generically, but you can pop open an MRE with ‘candy’ listed and it will have a bag of M&Ms. Pop Tarts are usually the ‘toaster strudel.’ They do actually go the generic route when it comes to the drink mixes, but the ‘carbohydrate electrolyte beverage powder’ is basically Gatorade mix.
The Power of Condiments
The title entrée for each MRE menu item may drive your choice, but it is important to consider the items that come with it as well. Many times in the field, bland MREs became savored meals with peanut butter or cheese spread. Luckily, one of these is included in most of the MREs offered. Salt, pepper, and hot sauce can go a long way in making a Chicken Pesto Pasta taste good.
A Brief History of the MRE
MREs were introduced to the military in 1981 to replace the canned MCI (Meal, Combat, Individual rations) and the LRP (Long Range Patrol Food Packet). The bagged chemical heater added in 1990 was a huge improvement to provide warm food compared to other options- without the use of fire. Dr. Abdul Rahman is credited with inventing the modern MRE and even was awarded a civilian service medal for it.
The Flameless Ration Heater
These flameless heaters use a water-activated chemical to cause an exothermic reaction to get very hot. Set a pouch of whatever you are trying to heat against this heater, and you’ll have a hot meal in less than 15 minutes. They do not like to typically pack these heaters in MREs sold to civilians because they off gas and present a dangerous explosion hazard if they are not stored properly. They also can put off enough hydrogen gas to be a hazard in a confined space, so be sure to use them with plenty of ventilation.
Buy MREs Single or in Bulk
You can find MREs in surplus stores, both sold by the pouch or by the case. Make sure you check the expiration dates, because some of these MREs were pulled out of the back shelf in a military logistics warehouse and dumped on the surplus market. You can also find good deals online that let you pick which menu you get- which is great for trying out various menus to find the one you like best. Even still, a variety is best to keep meals interesting and buying in bulk is usually cheaper. You can find online deals here:
What is your favorite menu number MRE? Have you tried a few of the older ones that are not around anymore? Do you keep any in your bug out bag, or do you go for a different food solution? Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
Water weighs 8.35 pounds per gallon and 1 kilogram per liter. Anyone familiar with backpacking can tell you that this is not very forgiving when you need to carry water on the go. Bug out bag water is not just a weight concern, but also a packing problem. A gallon of water takes up 231 cubic inches- which is a huge displacement compared to your survival gear! Below, we will take a look at the best ways to include water in your bug out bag, and techniques to stay hydrated when you are on the move.
Storing Water in Your Bug Out Bag
Water is not the best way to utilize your limited bug out bag space (or weight). Still, water is a requirement for survival and you should have a limited amount stored for mobility. There are several options when it comes to keeping water on the go. One crossover from Every Day Carry (EDC) is the personal water bottle.
Collapsible Bug Out Bag Water Bottles
There are many types of water bottles that you can include in your bug out bag. Collapsible and stainless are at the top of the list. Collapsible bottles are great because they can greatly reduce the space required to store the empty container. Two stand-outs include the Nomader personal water bottle and Coghlan’s Collapsible Water Container. The last one is less of a bottle and more of a container, but the functionality in your bug out bag is the same. It is a better choice if you are not planning on being too mobile, since it can hold up to 5 gallons.
Stainless Bug Out Bag Water Bottles
Stainless bottles may have more weight and take up more space when empty, but they give you the option to purify your water by boiling it. If you don’t have another method of purification or need a back up method, stainless bottles are the way to go.
Purifying and Filtering on the Go
Besides boiling water in a stainless bottle, you can also prepare by having water filters or purification tabs in your bug out bag. These options give you a way to have clean water without worrying about heat or fire. Filters are extremely lightweight these days, and there are a few designed specifically for bug out bags or backpacks. The best options for filtering are:
Both filters will do the trick. The Lifestraw is more widely available, but the Sawyer can be a little cheaper and is more versatile. Check your local store or online to compare pricing when you are looking for one. The purification tablets are usually have some compound of iodine as an active ingredient. There are several different brands and types, so the one that packs the tightest is the one we suggest: Potable Aqua Tabs.
Water is sold everywhere. Bottled water come is various sizes and is a huge commodity when it comes to disasters. Companies like Budweiser even stop beer production to create canned water for communities impacted by disasters. A few bottles of water may not go far, but it is better than nothing. One of the most efficient ways to carry water is in pouches- but they do not offer a reusable container for refilling. I keep water pouches in my bug out bag as a no-maintenance way to sustain my family during the initial stages of an emergency. They are easy to get a hold of online: DATREX Emergency Water Pouches.
The Final Word
In your bug out bag, water or ways to purify it should be a necessity. Water is a basic human need, and so it has to be planned for when you are creating and maintaining your bug out bag. If you are packing water and not just containers and filters- you need to be aware of the impact the space and weight will both have. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
Biathlon is the most watched Winter Olympic sport outside of the United States. It’s no surprise why people love it- it’s unique and very difficult! Biathlon is a combination of cross country skiing and target shooting. Anyone that frequents the range can tell you that these two activities are not exactly easily compatible. We’ll talk a little bit about the history of biathlon, the techniques the athletes use to perform at an Olympic level, and how survivalists can learn from the sport.
A Brief History of the Biathlon
Cross country skiing with guns mixed in seems like an odd Olympic combination, but it is one sport that makes perfect sense given its history. The sport itself has been around for over two centuries, and has been included in the Olympics since 1924. When it was first introduced, it was aptly named the “Military Ski Patrol” event. The competitors ski various distances based on the event and stop periodically to take shots at targets at least 50 meters away. The shooting can be especially difficult because competitors heart rates rise up to 200 beats per minute. Shooting with a racing heart rate can drastically affect your accuracy. A missed shot requires a ‘penalty loop’ of more skiing or time added on. This can increase their heart rate even more, making later shots even more difficult.
Speed while cross-country skiing comes secondary for a biathlete. The important technique to this sport is breath control and the ability to reduce your heart rate on command. The athletes that excel in this sport carefully manage their breathing to reduce their heart rate prior to shooting at targets. Some even manage to get it down from 200 to around 130 beats per minute- still a racing heart rate! Missing the targets can push a fast skiing leader to the back of the pack in an instant. Anyone who has practiced breath control while shooting a gun can tell you that it is something that has to be practiced- and that is at a range. Combining this with extremely exhausting cross-country skiing makes the task nearly impossible and pretty much guarantees a miss for anyone but the most disciplined.
The Survival Takeaway
I would encourage you to check out any of the biathlon events to see why the rest of the world finds it so compelling. We may practice breath control at the range, but most of us are standing still and have not just elevated our heart rates to over 200 beats per minute! The last time I moved while shooting was at the ranges in the military several years ago, and these were short sprints and just positional changes. The biathlon is a lot closer to real-world situations than our standard range practice or even my military training. The heart rate gets up there from physical activity and stress- and we should expect to have to deal with it. We may not be able to get from 200 beats per minute down to 130 in a matter of seconds, but it can only help to try. If your able to- consider checking out an outdoor range with a course to see how you fare. Movement and shooting don’t help each other out, but it could be a necessity.
The Final Word
The most popular sport by far in the United States as far as viewership goes is figure skating. I’d suggest you record some biathlon to watch instead and see which is more interesting. Biathlon is the sport that closest aligns to survivalists, at least until they put some sort of Alone inspired survival sport in the summer games. Either way, I hope you enjoy the Olympics and the spirit of competition as much as we do here at TruePrepper. It’s refreshing when our countries differences are reduced down to friendly competition every few years. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.