The N95 HEPA Mask
With all the hubub about the new Coroanvirus making it to our shores, EVERYONE is buying a N95 HEPA mask. It’s good to have one or a few. They work, they are not horribly expensive. Now the however. However the vast majority of folks do not know how to put one on, nor how to seal one. And not everyone knows that not everyone CAN wear one.
Manly men and N95’s
Question for the group. How many firefighters do you see with a full lumberjack beard. Or military NBC or CBRN NCO’s? Take a minute or three to answer. The correct answer is very close to zero. Why? The SCBA , (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) M40 series PROTECTIVE mask. (Im an old NBC NCO and it IRKS me for someone to call it a gas mask, will not seal over a beard. And that is why folks that know me I wear a goatee that is trimmed short and ends just below the chin. So an N95 HEPA Mask or SCBA or my protective mask will seal. A bad shave will cause them to not seal. And a N95 that won’t seal is a protective as a kerchief tied around your face.
What can the N95 HEPA Mask do and what can it NOT do.
A little online research will reveal that the flu virus is .17 microns in size. Clearly smaller than even N100 masks can filter out. However, it is critical to understand that the flu virus does not float in the air by itself. The flu virus is transported from patient to patient on droplets of excretions from sneezing and coughing. These particles are typically 5 microns or larger. When a sick patient wears a respirator, the respirator can be very effective at preventing infectious material from leaving the patients body, and when worn by healthy individuals, it prevents inhalation of said material. More importantly, wearing a mask is a excellent way of preventing the user from rubbing or touching their mouth or nose, which is a very high risk factor.
At the end of the day will an N95 mask guarantee to protect you from the Flu? No. But it can substantially reduce your risk or receiving or transmitting the disease.
The N95 mask will not last forever. It will not work if it is wet. They need to replaced @6-8 hours or sooner if they get wet. And your breath will condense moisture on the mask and decrease its effectiveness. And it will not work if it is the wrong size. Wait What? It comes in more the 1 Size? Yup Large Medium and Small
I’m not going to go into detail on how to don the mask. The CDC and a lot of other smart people have already done that. This link to the CDC shows you how to don and remove the mask.
Fitting the mask.
What I am going to do is go a step further with fitting the mask. Those that are health care and with direct patient care, or work in an area where potential pathogen exposure is likely, y’all know the fun of the Fit Test. This is where you put on your mask They put a big hood over you and have a squeeze bottle puff some nasty sweet tasting vapor in. If you can taste it your mask isn’t sealed. So you take it off, re-don and reseal. If it still doesn’t seal, you try a different size. The fit test equipment, as cheap as it looks is not cheap.
So we return to the old NBC NCO method of checking the seal of the protective mask. Isoamyl Acetate. Better known as banana oil. Isoamyl Acetate. Don the mask, and take 1 ampule, crush it and hold it about 3-6 inches from the mask EDGES move it around the edges and breath normally. The scent of bananas tells you, your mask is sealed properly. The mask will protect you to its ability. If the smell of those candy banana flavored peanuts enters then re-seal and repeat. If still no seal try a different size. Note there will be SOME smell of bananas But it wont be as strong as with out the mask.
There is so much fear mongering going around. Shock Jocks on YouTube are spinning apocalyptic fantasies about this new bug. Can we here at Pagan Preparedness say they are wrong? Not in the slightest.
We do not know.
What we do know is, it is a potential bug that has been shown to kill a percentage of victims. We also know that it comes from the Wuhan city of China. Can it become the Spanish Flu of 1918- 1920 in 2020? Maybe. We do not know. Washing your hands and not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth are much more important than masks. Remember that. A dear friend, Cat Ellis of mine wrote this. Prepping for a Pandemic. Buy It. Right now its only on Kindle but is expected to be back in stock in paperback form sometime soon.
The N95 HEPA Mask is not a silver bullet against any virus. You best defenses are washing your hands and not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. And avoiding sick people. Those things go further than any tool mask or drug.