Add Facemasks and Respirators to Your Bug-Out Bag

A survival enthusiast’s favorite discussion topic? The bug-out bag. After all… it may be all you’ve got, when the going gets rough.

I have seen hundreds of lists of bug-out bag items through the years. Many of them are similar, although none are exactly the same. Everybody’s list seems to have one or two items that other lists don’t, but at the end of the day, they’re all pretty similar.

One item I’ve noticed is missing from the vast majority of bug-out bag lists – and I have no idea why – are facemasks. Actually, you should have both facemasks and N95 respirators in your bug-out bag, and I’ll explain how they differ in a moment.

If you think about it, it’s very strange that more people don’t include these items in their bug-out bags. If a pandemic leads to us having to leave our homes to find a safer place to stay, certainly we are going to want to have masks.

If chemicals are used in some kind of terrorist attack that pushes us out of our houses, certainly we are going to want to have masks. And if we get caught up in some kind of civil unrest that results in police using tear gas, certainly we are going to want to have masks.

Facemasks and N95 respirators are used to protect the wearer from liquid and airborne particles contaminating the face and infecting the lungs.


Facemasks, which are made in different thicknesses and with different protective abilities, block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter that may contain germs such as viruses and bacteria. They can also be used to protect others around you if you are sick.

Facemasks are good. You should have a generous supply of them on hand because they should only be worn once and should not be shared.

However, facemasks have their limitations. They don’t block small particles in the air that can be transmitted through coughs, sneezes, etc., and they don’t fully protect against germs due to their loose fit.

N95 Respirators

The N95 respirator is more effective, and has been cleared by the FDA for use by the general public. It’s called “N95” because it blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) particles.

When putting on an N95 respirator, you should adjust the straps so that it fits very snugly but not uncomfortably. (By the way, these respirators work better on people without facial hair.)

My recommendation? Get some of both. Keep some around the house and put some in your bug-out bag. You’ll breathe easier if you do.


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