*NBC GEAR: What If The Biggest Suit Won't Fit?*
We live in dangerous times. Terrorist threats fill the media airwaves daily. And increasingly, we're hearing about potential nuclear, biological or chemical (NBC) components being included in the plans of these terrorists. NBC has gone mainstream. And over time, as people awaken to the reality that these horrors can strike right here at home, people will want to be prepared. So far, people are awakening only slowly.
The easy solution is to go out and buy some kind of NBC gear. But what if you're just too big to fit into the suits provided? Tyvek makes an 8X suit, so that helps. But that 8X suit assumes you're a man with the relatively small hips and thighs and larger burly chest. What if you're a woman with large hips and thighs? Are you just supposed to accept death because you had the audacity to be fat and female concurrently?
Until the producers of these suits see dramatic growth in demand for larger suits, we cannot expect them to produce anything larger than what they are producing now, or in proportions different to what they are producing now. So for those of us who aren't prepared to wait for the rest of the world to recognize the NBC risk, what can we do? IMPROVISE.
I'm fat and I'm tall, so I had to figure out what I could do. I can use the 6X to 8X Tyvek, but it's still designed for a man. And I know some people are even larger than I am, however. So I wanted to devise something quick that could be carried, that wasn't very bulky and could help protect a heavy person primarily in the event of a chemical dispersion until he or she could get to shelter. Here's what I came up with. It all fits in a small stuff sack for easy carrying, including the military NBC mask and a spare filter.
The foundation of my gear is a military poncho. It's waterproof and will be sufficient to protect someone. It has a hood with drawstring so that can be pulled tightly around a gas mask. The poncho is long but it leaves one's arms and legs, hands and feet exposed. Be advised, if the temperature exceeds about 80 degrees when you find yourself in need of protection, you're going to be miserably hot.dangerously so, in fact. So you need to have a plan that will get you inside quickly. This is a mere stopgap measure designed to get you from point A to point B in a very short amount of time.
The next step was the legs. Shoes and socks are usually porous, so you need something that is impermeable. Tyvek booties can be bought separately. But if you need something that goes much higher up the leg, try the large Alice Pack liners. They have tie strings at the tops, but the ties aren't long enough. I found that they were large enough to just put my feet inside, pull up, and then, by tying boot shoe laces to the ties, they can be securely tied to the thighs. A good taping with 100mph tape around the tops then ensure a good seal. And the poncho still covers the tops well.
The next step was the arms and hands. I had Latex gloves and neoprene gloves. I had virtually everything except that my arms were still exposed. I looked around for what I could use. At first, I made tubes out of 6 mil plastic, long enough to fit up toward the tops of my arms and tuck into gloves. But it was cumbersome, took too much time, and the plastic could tear more easily than fabric. Then I found these very cool rubberized arm gaiters at TheSportsmansGuide.com. It was just a stroke of luck. And I ordered several pair. They were the perfect final touch.
This outfit is a bit more time consuming to put on than a regular suit, but it will keep you alive. Practice putting it on. Practice doing that many many times until you are comfortable with doing it. And practice doing it on a hot day. You'll be amazed how, in just a few seconds, you'll be gasping for breath, so you need to know what that feels like. Mark the tops of the arm gaiters because one end is wider than the other. This reduces the amount of time you'll waste fumbling with those. Have everything in one place. You'll be amazed at how little space this outfit takes up-actually less than that 8XL Tyvek suit!
It may not be elegant, but in a true chemical attack, who's looking? The people around you will either have succumbed to the agent or will be too focused on their own survival to be paying attention to how you look.
In the event you face a chemical attack, suit up, make sure no one takes your gear from you and get to a safe place. Survival is job one.
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