If you accept the assertion that the primary or secondary danger most likely to affect the ultra-urbanite is fire, then smoke/fire escape hoods can be worth the investment. With all the modern plastics and other man-made materials and finishes, the primary killer in a structure fire is not the flame itself, but the toxic smoke. Many autopsies show the victims were dead from the smoke (or lack of oxygen) long before the body burned.

Smoke/fire hoods can be expensive. At least the ones that have a fighting chance of working. (I saw a device for sale that was little more than a standard, clear plastic bag with pieces of an “activated charcoal” filter paper taped over holes for the nose. Doesn’t that fly-by-nighter know what shrink wrapping a head by fire would do?) There are several on the market in the $100 plus range that seem to have a chance of providing some protection. I haven’t personally tested them, so I am having to go by the specification sheets and other’s reviews.

For the civilians not trained in the use of the various masks and other Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), I like the idea of keeping it simple. A hood over the whole head helps keep the hair from igniting, and smoke from blinding the eyes, while accommodating any eye-wear without the need for prescription goggles. An integral gas mask that fits around the nose and mouse provides a better fit for keeping the killing toxics out of the lungs.

I am leaning towards the AES60 in a soft pouch (is there something “better” for the cost/benefit balance?). A little less than $100, and in use for years by several commercial and government offices. Not designed to produce oxygen, it truly is a consumable, one-time use item for prolonging an individuals time to escape the smoke, heat, and flame environment while self extracting from the modern skyscraper or other place.

Which ever hood is chosen, add some elastic bands to the pouch to permit the surviver to quickly gather up long hair into a hair bun. My test unit hasn’t been delivered yet, but I think I will be adding a short, flat packed, strip of tape in anticipation of making an emergency repair to the hood.

The fire/smoke hood can go over the head at the first whiff of smoke — even before the coveralls or other gear.

D. Period – All rights reserved – 2009 – Use permitted by all only with attribution.

Originally posted on July 3, 2009 @ 6:58 pm