Saturday, October 18, 2014

REVIEW: ReadiMask - The Portable Shield

The world can be a scary place sometimes, and the threat of invisible killers is an intimidating one. Not only are the spreading illnesses such as Ebola which have a limited airborne capacity despite the public misconception that they don't, but there are also sudden riots where teargas can be deployed or pepper spray used on civilians, and getting caught in the crossfire can prevent you from getting out of dodge safely.

There are also many other respiratory concerns for a prepper. Something as relatively harmless as an influenza virus can turn deadly very quickly if your immune system is compromised by another condition or if you don't have access to adequate sanitation. Also things like having to evacuate a crowded building during a fire exposes you to smoke inhalation which can kill you faster than the fire itself.

Most serious preppers would have gas masks already for themselves and their loved ones, ready to go with spare canisters on the side for when things get bad, but to carry one around with you is tricky. They're bulky and awkward, and it's a lot of inconvenience and attention for something that - while out and about - you'd realistically only need for a very short period.

Enter the ReadiMask - touted as a sleek, portable protective mask, not only does it filter viruses and bacteria at 99.9% in accordance with ASTM F2101 standards, it will also filter over 99% of dry spores and latex particles, and all of this while being small enough to slip into your back pants pocket or an easy-to-reach sleeve of your day bag.

What it CAN do:

The ReadiMask is a single-use design, and so it compacts VERY small. It's so small that you can have it in your pocket and still retain full use of that pocket. I keep three in the front slide pocket of my 72 hour bag and it still doesn't take up enough room to stop me putting other things in there. Small also means light, so you won't even know you're carrying it.
It will stop a good range of things as listed above, but you don't quite grasp the power of this bit of kit until you've watched a wearer cop a face full of pepper spray without flinching.

It also goes on quickly and easily, and I mean REALLY quickly and easily. Peel the packet open, lay it evenly over your face and press down the adhesive seals around the edges. That's it.

What it CAN'T do:

It can't block gases, and as such is not a full-blown gas mask, although in a phone chat with the president of the manufacturing company who was kind enough to call us internationally to discuss the product, he told the Informed Preppers about new trials being run in a simulated prison environment which involved teargas. We haven't heard back how these trials went and it's not showing up on their site yet, so we're not sure how they're progressing with that. That being said, I have a lot of confidence that they'll manage to pull it off, as after speaking with them we can confirm that there are some smart people as the brains behind this product.

Where would this be useful?

Protests are becoming more and more common throughout the world, and when they turn ugly police resort to using pepper spray and teargas. If you need to make your escape from a situation like this, or just move through an area that is going through this sort of turmoil, you need to be able to breathe and see.

What if you were at work in a high-rise building and a fire broke out? Those fire escape stairs can become a death trap with that many people moving through them, and if you get caught in the smoke you can pass out very quickly. Pop on a ReadiMask and you'll have a definite advantage to your escape time compared to those around you.

So what's the score?

The short version of this review is that the Informed Preppers no longer travel anywhere without a few ReadiMasks in our packs or pockets. Being able to breathe cleanly and clearly at a moments notice is something you will take for granted until you need to. These masks are cheap, readily accessible and come in various configurations for adults and children, both with eye shields included and without. It's a great product from a great company and it's so affordable that you have no reason not to get a few! Pick them up from ReadiMask today.

- Cheap
- Effective
- Small and easy to pack
- Comes in great covert charcoal colour

- Hard to get outside of USA. Company needs to go international. Took us literally months to get some here in Australia. In all fairness, though, they are a small company and given the quality of their product I'd say it's only a matter of time.

RRP: USD$3.99 to USD$8.99

Rating - 9/10

- CumQuaT

Thursday, October 9, 2014

INFORMATIVE: The Ebola Epidemic

I've had a lot of thoughts regarding the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, but until now haven't wanted to write an article about it. However, as time has gone on, that has changed. The more I read about it the more I realise that people aren't getting the right picture of the ramifications of this outbreak, mostly due to the hype created by bad media and the prominence of the 'Chinese whisper' effect of social media. So I thought I'd do up this quick article to address the outbreak in the greater scheme of things and help set the record straight on some key issues:

Will Ebola Spread?

Experts at the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organisation) are predicting that if this outbreak isn't properly contained - and soon - the number of deaths could rise to 1.4 million as soon as January. However, those deaths can largely be expected to reside predominantly in the high population density areas of West Africa where the outbreak is at its peak. The risk of it spreading in a large scale - as seen in West Africa - somewhere such as Europe, North America or Australia, is negligable.

Is Ebola Easy to Catch?

Yes and no. Yes, if you are working with Ebola sufferers. No if you're not. Yes if you're living in an area with poor hygeine standards and crowded living arrangements. No if you have access to clean water, cleaning products and have a whole house to yourself.

The fact is, the disease has spread so rapidly in West Africa because of very poor standards of living combined with overpopulation, as well as relatively low general standard of education - particularly when it comes to medical training - and people are helping family members who have fallen ill which puts them into contact with them.

One key thing to remember is that Ebola can only be spread by those currently displaying symptoms. The disease has a gestation period of up to 21 days, so if someone were to catch it, they wouldn't realise it for up to three weeks. However, during that time, they aren't infectious. Much ado is made about people travelling on aeroplanes and spreading the illness to fellow passengers, but unless the patient was actively vomiting and bleeding from the eyes they wouldn't be able to spread it to other people on the aeroplane - and if that were the case I doubt they'd be well enough to get to an airport let alone be allowed on the flight at all.

So what can lead to you contracting Ebola?
  • Interacting with the corpse of someone who died of the disease
  • Exchanging bodily fluids with someone who has the disease, such as sweat and saliva
  • Prolonged exposure to infected surfaces contaminated by those with the disease
  • Prolonged, close-proximity living with those with the disease
  • Interaction with animals carrying the disease, such as bats
As you can probably tell from the above list, the odds of you picking the illness up in suburban Sydney are slim to none. Cases such as the recent death in Dallas, Texas were caused by the above list. In the case of the American Thomas Eric Duncan, he had physically interacted with a woman sick with the disease, carrying her to a taxi to take her to a hospital, wearing no protective gear in a very hot, humid environment. Sweat touching sweat was enough for it to transfer to him and that was that.

Is Ebola Airborne?

 Yes and no. Yes, it is airborne (as confirmed by the CDC) overy extremely short distances in very specific circumstances, but no it is not airborne in the traditional sense of something such as influenza. If it was that airborne, the casualty count would have been half the world's population within 30 days of the outbreak.
How does it work? Simply speaking, when an infected patient does something like a sneeze, it sprays tiny fluid particles of saliva into the air for a short distance, and they hang there. The Ebola virus doesn't do well in temperatures below 13 degrees, however, and a small, airborne droplet cools fairly quickly, so the droplets become benign quite fast. However, if someone were to walk through a cloud of these particles while they are still fresh and they got into their eyes and lungs, they could - theoretically - contract the illness, however unlikely. The odds of it being transmitted this way are quite small, however, as the tissue membranes in the airways don't transfer bacteria and viruses as well as other parts of the body, and so have a much lesser chance of being a pathway for disease contraction.

Once again it comes down to extended proximity to those suffering the illness. If you're an aid worker who will be around sufferers day in, day out, then yes, your odds of contracting the illness from these airborne particles will climb significantly, but for an average person living outside of West Africa, there's nothing to worry about at this time.

What About the Ebola Zombie Rumours?

This one is so ridiculous I'm going to be rather brief about it. Dying of Ebola is not a fast, clean way to go. You die incredibly slowly, painfully and exhaustingly, getting weaker and weaker until you can barely move. You simply lie there, bleeding internally. That much internal bleeding coupled with exhaustion is enough to lower your heart rate considerably to the point where a cursory check of your vitals will seem like you are dead. Aid workers in West Africa have their hands full and don't have time to do extensive checks on patients. When they see a body in the street they give it a quick check and then deal with it so they can move on to the next patient. It only makes sense that occasionally they'd miss a very faint pulse and the patient would start moving in the body bag during a brief moment of lucidity. There is no zombie apocalypse coming.

What Can I Do to Minimize Risk?

Ebola is spreading internationally, to an extent. For it to spread rapidly it needs poor sanitation, hot, humid environments and crowded places. Virtually every first-world city has proper sewage, running water, cleaning products and showers. Unless you are reading this from a mud hut in West Africa you already have a minimized risk of contracting the illness.
However, being over-prepared never hurts. If you want to prepare yourself further for an outbreak - even if it's just for your own sanity - then stock up on the following things:
  • Surgical masks
  • Rubber gloves
  • N95 masks, such as the ReadiMask
  • Protective eyewear
  • Bleach (bleach solutions have been proven to totally eliminate the disease from surfaces)
  • Ethanol-based sanitizer, such as Dettol concentrate
  • Plastic drop-sheets
  • Electrical tape (for sealing shut windows and doors from the outside)
  • Garbage bags for contaminated material disposal
Stocking up on the above is overkill, however, it can be multi-purposed for ANY pandemic, such as a mutated influenza virus like H1N1 or MERS.

So hopefully this insight has cleared up any questions you've had about the illness that you haven't been able to get a straight answer on. If you have any further questions about the illness then please feel free to ask in the comments below and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

And remember, be prepared, not scared.

- CumQuaT