The Gas Mask and Gear You Need To Survive A Nuclear Attack

Nuclear fallout

Your gas mask and protective fallout gear is something you need now and for good reason, you might need to use it quite soon.

We are closer than ever to a nuclear strike with tensions at a climax between North Korea and the United States, and if you’re one of the lucky ones who has snapped up a commercial bunker or has set up a home fallout shelter, well done. If not, you need to prepare yourself and your family.

Spending tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on a bunker for something that might not happen seems a bit of a risk right? Perhaps you still are a prepper and want to prepare yourself for a nuclear fallout but you’re not willing to fork out thousands for yourself and your family just to be sure. No problem, you can still easily survive.

In the case of a nuclear attack, your ideal safest place is somewhere that is not contaminated and is underground. It is no surprise that the best place to hide after a nuclear fallout is in the basement of a building that is constructed with thick brick or concrete. But what about if you don’t have that? If your shelter is poor and you have nearby shelter, you can make your way there but only if it is under 10 minutes away. But before you start moving, and as soon as that bomb hits, you are going to need some protective gear against the radiation, chemical or biological hazard the weapon has caused.

What you need after a fallout with your gas mask

Once the bomb has hit, there’s going to be a wide spread of radiation, or in the chance of a chemical or biological attack, something else. The strength of it will be determined by how close you are to the blast and other geographical factors. To deal with that fallout, here is what you would need in a basic kit to stay healthy:


As radiation can be soaked into the skin, the ideal goal would be to use a gas mask with a chemical protection suit to keep your skin protected and to avoid contamination with your clothing so that you don’t contaminate your shelter or bunker. Any suit that is made of tyvec or a heavy pvc and is completely sealed is what you need. This will give the body a lot less exposure to radiation or anything else from a chemically-designed weapon.

If you are making a nuclear attack kit I cannot recommend more that you add a role of duct tape in it. Duct tape has a lot of uses but primarily, in this case, it is a bandaid for your radiation suit. You want to be avoiding any leaks or cuts in your suit at all cost.


You should be stocking up on iOSAT tablets as they are an FDA approved treatment to prevent absorption of radioactive material. There are also these radiation towelettes that you can use to wipe away any contaminated areas, but a thorough cleansing shower would also suffice.

Radiation Detection

The RADTriage FIT  is a US Military device that fits into your wallet and can detect low levels of radiation quite well. One of the innovative things about this is that it is not electronic, so in the event that you are close to an electromagnetic pulse shockwave, you are still going to be able to detect radiation at any point. You can also get a Radon reader which is much more powerful in its effect and is still unaffected by EMP.

Now let’s move on to gas masks.

What you should know about gas masks

There are some things to think about when buying a gas mask, they are:

  • Not all gas masks are the same, some are meant for spray painting and some are meant for biological scenarios
  • You will need a few spare filters
  • Facial hair does not work with gas masks
  • If you live in the city, a gas mask is much more important because of the likelihood of an attack in your area
  • Gas masks are not to be lived in, they are a temporary measure

To tell if your gas mask is not for spray painting but for a nuclear attack, we need to make sure it has a NBC or CBRN rating. The ideal mask is an NBC filter mask. NBC stands for:

  • Nuclear: which is referring to the radiation resulting from a leak or an attack
  • Biological: could be form disease such as a virus, outbreak, anthrax, ebola, flu and even volcanic ash
  • Chemical: this could be mustard gas, sarin gas, riot control gasses and any type of nerve agent.

On top of the NBC mask, you can look at CBRN masks (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) as they have the highest protection against these elements.

What type of gas mask you should be getting

You want to be getting a mask that lets you operate easily. Once upon a time a gas mask was something that could barely be seen out of and was so thick that it would cause the wearer to start sweating within minutes of putting it on. Thankfully masks have come a long way since then.

We should be looking for something that has a good visibility, a comfortable fit and that has widely available filters. For the filter type, I have found that the NATO 40mm is the easiest to come by and there is a wide supply of them. These NBC filters are what you need to filter radioactive particles. Other gas masks might use a bayonet canister, however this is not as common.

The mask that is proving very popular for buyers at the moment is the SGE 400 Diskin mask (just under $200) which is designed to meet  military and civil defense requirements. SGE is the brand of mask made by Mestel Safety, a top-notch military-grade equipment provider. They are a trusted and relied manufacturer by many for their personal protective equipment. Let’s take a look at what this mask offers:

  • Ballistic and chemical aggressive treated face shield
  • Silicone face seal (excellent for long period use; tested for 6 days without removing).
  • Compact large field of vision.
  • You can wear glasses with this mask
  • Takes the standard NATO filter sizing
  • Easy maintenance.
  • You can use a drinking tube with this mask
  • A six strap fitting, which can be adjusted to ensure perfect fit over face.
  • Internal nose and mouthpiece which allows air to be inhaled and pass through the visor. This stops condensation or misting.

The fit for this gas mask is pretty good. I take a large because of my big head whereas my partner would easily fit a medium. If you’ve got kids, the small size is suitable for teenagers just because of the fit to the face. Any younger and you’d be wanting to look at an NBC gas mask or suit for kids.

This mask is the NBC one, which would definitely keep yourself and your family or friends safe in an attack. However, if you are willing to spend the extra money and are concerned about the effect corrosive chemicals may have on the mask, I would suggest the version with a butyl rubber lining around the mask. I would only recommend this one if you were facing direct contact with corrosive chemicals though.

If you are on a tight budget or have to buy a lot of these masks for you and a big family, you can also look at the Israeli civilian protective mask which is only $30. These masks were issued to civilians in Israel when the country was under attack by Iraq and for that purpose they are full NBC protected. They come brand new and have an attachable straw to use to drink while the mask is on. A lot of people have reported that the filter that comes with this mask is expired, so you might want to keep that in mind and perhaps purchase a few more. It would be unfortunate to have an expired filter when you needed it the most.

If you are after a mask used by the US Military, you can rely on the M40 and M50 service masks. The M50 is the newest addition to the US Military and is the general purpose mask for all professions. A lot of these have been running dry of stock recently just because of the rise in concerns about a nuclear attack. These are a lot more expensive (M40 is $289 and M50 is $150-$250) that the masks mentioned above but when it’s an in-use military item then you know it does the right job. You can also use the 40mm NATO filters for these masks.

The wearable protection in this article is a backup if a nuclear, chemical or biological strike happens. However, because these masks and suit are NBC protective they are also very reliable to use in the event of a viral outbreak or disease. If you live in an urban area then this kit might be the right option for you.

What should you do if there is a nuclear attack or radiation leak?

Emergency Services

First, it is obvious that you should be listening to emergency services, this is a primary point that a lot of preppers fail to adhere to and it is the primary way your safe evacuation can occur.

When a nuclear attack happens you might be without power due to an EMP pulse or damage to nearby power provision structures, so to stay tuned into emegerncy services you should get yourself a reliable hand crank radio. The American Red Cross Hand Crank Radio is a reliable option that has been used in a number of disasters and emergency events around the world and is the most ideal option for your circumstance.

Seeking Shelter

There are different shelters where residing from a nuclear fallout is safe, In an emergency where a nuclear, biological or chemical attack has been made you are going to have to seal the room in order to ensure your survival and that of anyone with you.

For a nuclear attack, ideally your shelter should be in the basement of a brick or concrete building.

Where to hide in a nuclear attack while using your gas mask

Infographic from EPA on the best place to hide in a nuclear attack

To seal a room off from any type of contamination the US Government Ready Plan provides a process of sealing a room. If you are going to seal a room you should:

  • Bring your four legged family members inside
  • Lock all doors and close any windows or vents leading to the outside
  • Turn off all fans, air conditioner and heaters
  • If you have one, get your emergency food, water and medical kit, as well as your gas mask, suit and other items, but only if they have not been contaminated
  • If the room has four walls, stay in it. You want to be in a room with as few windows as possible
  • Use 2-4mm thick plastic sheet over all windows, doors and vents and use duct tape to seal it off
  • Once you have done all of that, sit tight and listen out for any information from authorities on whatever means you have. Ideally this would be with the hand crank radio I mentioned before.

When you are planning your kit with the above mentioned nuclear survival equipment, it is a good idea to keep an excess amount of these thick plastic sheets and duct tape mentioned above as it will become your tool kit when you are preparing against such circumstances.

If you are living in an area that could be effected by an NBC attack you can also use the following Prepping Guides:

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  1. Gary Underwood

    August 24, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Great article. People should also be aware that when they are washing radiation contaminants down, not to use conditioner. Shampoo and soap are fine but conditioner will bond radioactive particles to your hair.

    • Ben Brown

      September 4, 2017 at 7:28 pm

      Thanks for writing in and good advice!

  2. Adrian Rothman

    September 4, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Would a small SGE be suitable for kids? I have a family of five and am looking at getting everyone one.

    • Ben Brown

      September 4, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      Great to see you are working with your family. To answer your question, the small size of the SGEs fit a child of about 7 and up. Anyone younger and I would suggest looking into a soviet PDF-D as they have varying sizes for the young-ones and are quite affordable.

      You can pick them up here: Soviet PDF-D Children’s Mask

      Best of luck, Ben.

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  6. Mark

    September 21, 2017 at 3:33 am

    It’s nice to have the added eye protection of protective masks but even the good old N 95, N 99, or N 100 will do the job

    All you’re trying to do is keep from inhaling and/or swallowing alpha and beta emitters.

    You can’t wear enough to protect you from neutron or gamma.

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