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Giving Your Body Clean Air

Some emergencies can send tiny, microscopic particles into the air. For example, an explosion may create very fine dust that can cause lung damage. A biological attack may release germs that can cause illness if they are breathed in or absorbed by open wounds or injuries. Many of these agents can only hurt you if they get into your body. Consider creating a barrier between yourself and the threat to your health.



Protect Your Nose and Mouth

Have facemasks or a dense cotton fabric that fits snuggly over each family member's nose and mouth. Do what you can to make the best fit for children.


Be Prepared to Improvise

In an emergency, you can use materials you have on hand to protect your nose and mouth, eyes, and any cuts on your skin. Anything that sits snugly over your nose and mouth, including any dense cotton fabric, can help filter contaminated air in an emergency. Remember, it is very important that the air you breathe comes through the mask or cloth – not around it. You can find a variety of face masks at your local hardware store that will do fine job in cleaning the air you breathe.


More Barriers Can Provide Added Protection

Sometimes staying and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially dangerous air outside (a process known as "shelter-in-place") is a matter of survival. You can use these things to tape up windows, doors and air vents if you need to seal off a room from outside contamination.
  1. Heavyweight plastic garbage bags or plastic sheeting
  2. Duct tape
  3. Scissors

Keep Assessing Your Situation

Use any available information to regularly monitor your situation. If you see large amounts of material in the air or if local authorities say the air could be harmful to breathe, you can seal off a room by taping over.
  1. Windows
  2. Doors
  3. Air vents

    Read more in "Deciding to Stay or Go."

Consider a HEPA Filter to Clean Inside Air

After you have sealed a room with plastic sheeting and duct tape you have created a better barrier between you and any outside dangers. Keep in mind that in sealing the room, you may have sealed some of the contaminated air inside with you. Plus, you may have some small seal leaks to the outside.

A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filtration) air purifier can help remove contaminants from the room where you are sheltering. The HEPA filter traps harmful contaminants that can otherwise enter your body and make you sick. They are excellent protection against dander, dust, molds, smoke, biological agents and other contaminants. They do not stop chemical gasses.

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