*Fitting Protective Mask*

By Skid600

23 March 2003


Iím going to go over how to properly fit a protective mask to the person who is going to be using it. This is much easier with 2 people (the one thatís wearing the mask, and the one thatís making the adjustments). The first thing you need to do is adjust all the straps. You want to loosen them all so that there is only approximately 1" left on the free running ends of the straps.

Next, you want to put the mask to your face and pull the head harness over your head. If you have a second person to help you with this process, this is where their part begins. If not, youíre going to have to hold the mask to your face with one hand and adjust the straps with the other. Keep in mind that you will have to switch hands multiple times during this process. Now, center the "pad" on the head harness on the crown of your head. The "pad" varies with different types of masks, however there will be a pad on all masks.

Next youíre going to start tightening the uppermost straps one at a time evenly until they are snug. Note: Some masks only have one top strap while most have two. Once the top straps are snug, repeat the procedure with the temple (middle) straps. Finally, tighten the cheek (lowest) straps.

Now that all straps are snug, verify that the pad is still centered on the crown of your head. If it is not, adjust the straps accordingly until it is centered.

Once itís centered, you should be able to let go of the mask and perform minor exercises without breaking your seal. Examples of exercises are neck rotations (moving the head in small circles), looking up and down (full range of head), looking left to right (full range of head) and doing a light jog in place. If you feel that your seal is broken doing these exercises, tighten the straps a little more, again making sure that the pad remains centered on the crown of your head. Your mask should never be so tight that your face starts to hurt.

Once you are comfortable with the way your mask is fit, you can remove it by loosening ONLY the cheek (lowest) straps. Leaving the temple straps and the top straps alone.

Remove the mask by pulling the harness forward over the facepiece. Once you have the mask off, fix the straps so that there are no twists in them, this will make it easier to put on in a hurry if you need to. Once you have fitted your mask, practice putting it on. If you want to know how quickly you need to be able to put it on, the Army trains their soldiers to be able to do it in under 8 seconds, and that includes everything from pulling the mask out of the carrier to picking your weapon back up.

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