Risk Prevention: What to Look for When Choosing the Best Fire Mask?

Risk Prevention: What to Look for When Choosing the Best Fire Mask?

You may now be used to wearing face masks; it is of course the new norm in a very surreal world, but were you aware of the usefulness and necessity of face masks for fire safety? Did you know there are more people killed in the UK through inhaling toxic smoke during a fire than through the fire itself? You might not think it can happen to you but think again, we are all at risk of house fires and you and your family should always be prepared in case it happens to you.

As stated, the toxic smoke and particles inhaled into the breathing system causes more deaths but how does this happen? The toxic particles touch the airways and make them swell-up blocking Oxygen from being able to enter the lungs. We would be dead within minutes. If you are made aware of the smoke by having an effective working smoke alarm in place then you can don a face mask designed for fire safety and have up to 60 precious minutes to escape from a burning building. But how do we know what to look for when choosing the best fire mask?

There are a variety of fire masks for sale in the UK, and when making a choice of which to purchase there are a number of considerations, including:

  • Who is it for?
  • Is it for children?
  • What budget are you willing to pay for something that might not happen?
  • What other equipment does it come with?
  • How many minutes of protection does it provide?
  • Does it have its own storage case?
  • How long does it last?
  • What gases does it prevent against?
  • Is there a CE safety mark/new marking certificate post BREXIT?

Let’s look at each of these considerations in more detail…

Who is it for – just adults or children too?

A mask needs to be correctly fitted to ensure sufficient filtering of the air allowing oxygen in and keeping out those poisonous toxins. There is not much point in putting on a mask that doesn’t fit properly. If it is for an elderly or disabled relative: are they able to effectively manipulate the fittings to put it on easily under pressure? Some are full hoods that fit over the entire head and some are half masks on the face with straps that need to be pulled around the head and tightened. Don’t forget, precious seconds can save a loved one’s life. If the mask is to be used for your children then you need to ensure the mask states that it is designed for young children of the correct age. Is the wearer going to be competent in putting the face mask on? Full instructions should be read with the entire family and updated every now and again to ensure competency.

What budget do you have?

There are many costly varieties of fire masks for sale but are they really worth it? Do your homework and don’t assume that if you pay out more you will have the best face mask. You may have to consider that you will need to pay out more for a face mask that provides longer protection from smoke if you live on the top floor of a multi-story apartment building and need to use the busy stairwells as an escape route.

Any other equipment?

Also consider what other equipment comes with it for the price. If it comes with fire retardant gloves or if it features an anti-fog visor to enable you to see in the hot smoke-filled room this might be more costly but might be what saves your life so the extra few pounds might be a wise investment.

How many minutes of protection does it provide?

This comes down to where you live and the set-up of your house? How mobile are you and your loved ones? The best fire mask to suit you will depend on how long it will take you to physically get out of your house. If you have any mobility issues; or will need to exit via many staircases; or will be responsible for helping others to escape, then consider a fire mask providing longer protection. If you live on your own and are fully mobile in your two-story home then a lesser time could potentially be considered.

Storage and shelf life

You may never use your fire safety mask but you will be definitely glad it is there if you do need to. However, you want to make sure it is the best fire mask when it is needed for use not just when you purchase it. It will be hanging around in your house for potentially several years so you need to ensure it is protected from dust throughout this time so a dust protection case would certainly be useful. You will also need to update it after a set number of years to ensure you are aware of its individual expiry date. Ensure you and your loved ones do not use it unless absolutely necessary as a disposable mask will need to be replaced once used.

What gases does the face mask protect against?

Check what gases the fire masks available for sale are designed to protect against. What poisonous gases in the smoke is likely to be produced from a fire in your home? What combustible materials do you have around? Carbon monoxide is likely to be the most highly present toxic gas in any fire, however, hydrogen cyanide and other gases may be present in modern homes due to the increase of use of synthetic polymers such as nylon and polyesters present in furniture and soft furnishings.

Ensure it meets safety standards

With regard to ensuring your face mask for fire has been appropriately checked and certificated by the relevant authority, look for the CE mark. This shows that it has been confirmed that it meets the European safety standards. After Brexit this mark will be changing to the new UK government safety certification standard, UKCA, to verify the safety of products.

If a face mask seems too cheap to be true, maybe it is – fire safety is not something you want to be taking risks with.

So when you are searching for a face mask for fire, then take into full consideration all the factors that relate to you and your family. The best fire mask for you as a preventative measure to reduce your risks if you are involved in a fire will be the one that meets all your necessary requirements.