The Best NBC 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 in the event of a nuclear attack, chemical, or biological attack.

We are closer than ever to a nuclear strike with tensions growing in the world between countries capable of nuclear or chemical attacks, this is not to mention the rest of the struggles in the world with both urban and overseas-inspired terrorism. 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 want to prepare yourself for a nuclear attack 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 of thick brick or concrete. But what 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.

This is where preparedness comes into play. For many emergency services, authorities, and people living in ‘likely attack’ areas, nuclear preparedness is a very important strategical issue. It does not only affect local governments and emergency agencies, but also in the family home where there should be an understanding of both the knowledge of what to do in the event of a nuclear attack and having the right equipment to survive a nuclear attack. Although this post is aimed at the preparedness around a nuclear attack, it is also important to note that much of this is also in relation to chemical and biological attacks, as all methods of safety are to ensure you have a safe air supply, protective gear, and can get to a decontaminated area.

Are you prepared for a nuclear, chemical or biological attack or fallout?

Once a nuclear bomb has hit, a nuclear reactor has failed, there’s going to be widespread radiation, or in the chance of a chemical or biological attack, something else. According to the US Govt, a nuclear attack “would have devastating results” and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps. For a lot of people that limited time is spent in chaos and havoc, as we saw in Hawaii recently when an alert was sent that there was an incoming nuclear attack.

So how do you prepare for a nuclear attack or another NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) event? And what are you going to need, should something like that actually happen? A basic level of readiness is a good idea for anyone, whether you live in the country on your own farm, or in the middle of New York as areas surrounding strike zones can be affected by a weapon’s characteristics and various other factors. The strength of an attack will be determined by how close you are to the blast, weather factors such as wind and precipitation, the size of a bomb and height at which it was detonated. To deal with the fallout, here is what you would need in a basic decontamination kit to wear to either reach an area that is safe and decontaminated, or until authorities provide further advice.

Protective Equipment After A Nuclear Or Chemical Attack

There are three important types of equipment you need after a nuclear attack, chemical attack, or any other event where you might experience an environment contaminated with dangerous particulates. They are body protection, which consists of a protective suit, boots, gloves and a way to seal them together, medical protection, and a way to detect radiation. I have not included things such as an emergency supply you might need in a disaster as these three items directly deal with how to survive a nuclear attack.

1. NBC Suit

As radiation can be soaked into the skin, a gas mask should be worn with an NBC protection suit to keep your skin protected and to avoid contamination with your clothing so that you don’t contaminate your shelter or bunker. Contrary to what some may think, a gas mask alone will not keep you safe, instead, you would need to create a space of decontamination between your skin, and the outside. A specialized chemical suit does just this (and they’re cheap too). Any suit that is made of tyvek 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 roll of duct tape to it. Duct (gaffer) tape has a lot of uses such as sealing up windows with plastic and covering door gaps to create a sealed, decontaminated space. Primarily, in this case, it is a band-aid for your radiation suit. You want to be avoiding any leaks or cuts in your suit at all cost.

Ideally, in those situations where you are concerned about radiation, or biological or chemical particles in the air, full-body protection can be achieved when in contaminated areas by using:

2. Radiation Poisoning Medication

You should be stocking up on iOSAT tablets as they are an FDA approved treatment to prevent absorption of radioactive material. The active chemical in iOSAT pills is potassium iodide (KI). It is is used by health officials worldwide to prevent thyroid cancer in people who are exposed to radioactive iodides. Those radioactive iodides are caused by nuclear reactor accidents and nuclear bombs.

Potassium iodide pills are not a treatment, they are a preventative and provide protection against radioactive iodine by preventing its absorption by the thyroid gland. The pills have been used in all cases where radiation poisoning has been an issue for areas surrounding an event. For instance, these were administered to nearby residents of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in 1986,  Fukushima nuclear plant leak in 2011, Germany in 2017 and more recently in 2018 to residents in Belgium over nuclear power plant failure concerns.

There are also radiation towelettes that you can use to wipe away any contaminated areas after a chemical attack, radiation leak or nuclear attack, however, a thorough cleansing shower would suffice in that manner. Remember when having a shower to wash and scrub thoroughly, but do not use conditioner as it will bond particles to your hair.

3. Radiation Detector

The thing about radiation that scares a lot of first responders and emergency professionals is that radiation cannot be seen, smelt or felt. For all you know you could be walking through a highly contaminated area and will only feel the effects once it is too late. A radiation detector is the only way to detect radiation in an environment.

One of the most affordable options for radiation detection is the RADTriage FIT  and is a device that has been used by the US Military. It is a device that fits into your wallet and can detect low levels of radiation. While this is an effective option on a budget, it does have a one time use and is not capable of giving detailed radiation readings, therefore its reliability is limited. A permanent and more viable option is the RADEX RD1503 radiation detector (pictured right) which gives highly accurate readings and was provided by governments to civilians in areas nearby high radiation exposures such as Fukushima and Chernobyl. This specific device is widely used and provides an easy-to-use interface detecting radiation counts as a consistent meter.

Now let’s move on the best gas mask for a nuclear fallout, chemical bomb, or biological event.

What you should know about gas masks

When I first started looking at gas masks, I thought they were all the same, just a method to filter air that comes into the lungs. That is not the case at all as there are a lot of different gas masks and respirators out there that all provide filtration for different circumstances. The gas mask you need for nuclear fallout, radiation, chemical or biological hazards is what is referred to as a CBRN gas mask (formerly known as NBC).

There are some important points to know when buying a gas mask, such as:

  • Make sure your gas mask is CBRN-approved
  • You will need to use CBRN filters
  • Facial hair does not work with gas masks
  • Gas masks are not to be lived in, they are a temporary measure
  • A gas mask is not a final solution, they should be used in conjunction with other protective equipment (mentioned above)

To tell if your gas mask is for a nuclear fallout and not for spray painting, you need to make sure it has an NBC or CBRN rating. The ideal gas mask for an event that involves radiation, chemical or biological hazards is a CBRN gas mask. CBRN provides that the gas mask is able to provide safe, clean, decontaminated air in the event of a nuclear bomb, a dirty bomb (radioactive material dispersed with explosives), or a chemical or biological weapon. It stands for:

  • Chemical: this could be mustard gas, sarin gas, riot control gasses and any type of nerve agent
  • Biological: could be diseases such as a virus, outbreak, anthrax, Ebola, flu.
  • Radiation: radioactive material dispersed by a dirty bomb using conventional explosives
  • Nuclear: which is referring to the radiation resulting from a leak or an attack

CBRN gas masks have the highest protection in the case of a nuclear fallout and are tested by regulatory bodies to ensure that they are able to meet those criteria.

The best CBRN/NBC gas mask for a nuclear fallout

In a nuclear attack, there is a lot of panic, and rightly so as it is a chaotic, destructive, unimaginable event. However, if you are preparing for the worst, and there is an attack, you are going to be doing a lot of moving around and need something that is functional for that purpose. For gas masks, historically, a military-grade 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/CBRN filters are what provide the filtration against radioactive, chemical or biological particles. There are some military-designed gas masks that use their own filters, however more often than not, a gas mask will use NATO 40mm filters.

The gas masks for a nuclear fallout are the SGE 400/3 BB mask and the US Military Avon M50 gas mask which is designed to meet military and civil defense requirements.

SGE 400/3 BB CBRN/NBC Gas Mask

As far as protection goes,SGE 400/3 BB mask offers a high quality decontaminated area for your face, as well as:

  • 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 a perfect fit over the 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 CBRN 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 CBRN version, which would definitely keep yourself and your family or friends safe in an attack as it has a butyl rubber lining around the mask making it an effective chemical and radiation mask complying with international CBRN regulations.

The US Military Avon M50 CBRN Gas Mask

Another great option is the standard issue US military CBRN gas mask, the Avon M50. It is by far the best face mask for a nuclear fallout and the best type of nuclear gas mask. 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 over a nuclear attack.

The M50 service mask is also sold to the public at a reasonable price, which is a little steeper than the SGE. This would be due to the mask’s highly-functional design, make, comfort and operability. It should be noted that the M50 gas mask uses its own high-quality filters. These filters have a five-year shelf life and, unlike NATO 40mm filters, sit with a low profile on the mask and are very lightweight.

Us military gas mask

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.

The table below shows the highest quality NBC and Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear gas masks that you should be considering to fill a priority gap in your emergency supply.

IMAGENAMEOUR RANKFILTEROUR REVIEW
Avon M50M50
Filter Unit
Drager 450040mm
NATO
SGE 400/3 BB40mm
NATO

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

Get to safety. This is the first thing to do in a nuclear attack, or any other event such as a chemical attack, biological attack or leak. If a nuclear attack is imminent, you should know what the right type of shelter is that will keep you safe from the initial blast.

What shelter will keep you safe from a nuclear blast?

There are different shelters where residing from a nuclear fallout is safe. For a nuclear attack, ideally, your shelter should be in the basement of a brick or concrete building. In an emergency where a nuclear, biological or chemical attack has been made you should seal the room in order to ensure the health of yourself and that of anyone with you. Sealing the room creates a decontaminated space which will be a safe area to stay until authorities or emergency services notify otherwise.

To seal a room off from contamination the US Government advises that you should:

  • Bring your four-legged family members inside

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

  • 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 NBC 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.

Wait for further instruction from authorities or emergency services

First, it is obvious that you should be listening to emergency services and authorities, 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 emergency 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 ideal option for your circumstance.

When you are planning your kit with the above-mentioned gear for protection against a nuclear attack, it is a good idea to keep an excess amount of thick plastic sheets and duct tape as it will become your toolkit when you are preparing against such circumstances.

If you are living in an area that could be affected by a nuclear attack you should start prepping buy stockpiling an emergency supply of food, water and other things you need after the sh-t hits the fan, as well as have a plan to evacuate or leave your area.

What protective gear do you need in a nuclear attack?

9 Comments

  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.

      • Erin

        January 11, 2018 at 9:45 pm

        Ben, on the link you’ve attached, there is a hose coming from the nose of the mask. What does that hose attach to? I’m looking for something for my 4 year old.

        • Ben Brown

          January 13, 2018 at 7:44 am

          Hi Erin,

          That hose is a connection between the mask and a filter. The hose was initially the style as filters were so large that military personnel would have the filter in a bag around the neck, and the hose would run from the filter box to the mask.

          This mask has a filter and bag included and is $25. The original link I posted in these comments does not come with a filter..

          Best of luck!

  3. 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.

  4. Beverly Bayn

    January 21, 2018 at 6:19 am

    I really got good info here what if you live across the street from the ocean in Oregon do you think there is much chance that something like this would affect us here

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