An expert on fire safety has a warning for anyone considering the use of a gas mask: Never, ever put your mask on.
The expert, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney, told CNN in an email the use “could result in serious injury or death to bystanders, the occupants of your home, or people in your vicinity” and “may expose you to harmful chemicals that could potentially harm others.”
“There is no question that the risk of exposure is very high,” he added.
“While many people have used masks in the past, we have seen that a mask used as a last resort is the wrong choice,” the attorney said.
“The risk of harm to bystanders and people in the vicinity is high,” the ACLU attorney said, referring to the use, if not the actual use, of a mask in a firefight.
A mask can save lives, but it also can pose a risk of injury or the suffocation of people, the ACLU said.
The ACLU said it was urging people to use masks that are approved for use by the FDA or a medical professional.
“The best way to protect ourselves and others from the risk is to wear a mask that is approved by the manufacturer and has been tested to meet FDA requirements for safety and effectiveness,” the agency said.
“If you do not have a mask approved for you, you can also use a disposable mask to cover up the face, eyes, mouth, or nose.”
The American Civil Society Union is asking people to call the American Red Cross or other emergency contacts and report any possible gas masks to the Red Cross.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Emergency Physicians have issued statements urging people not to use gas masks in firefighting situations.
The academy, which is not affiliated with the American Civil Liberty Union, also recommends that firefighters wear face masks to protect themselves from the toxic fumes, according to the organization.