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Emergency Fire Escape Smoke Hood Chic: When Putting a Plastic Bag Over Your Head Is a Good idea

You often hear it said that in fires people die more from smoke inhalation than from actual fire. Consequently, a whole aftermarket of emergency fire escape smoke hoods has sprung up. The wildfires burning here in Los Angeles are making me wonder what's available in the realm of safety accessories. Specifically, smoke hoods. Have any of you tried any of these?

1. The ASE30A Fire Escape Smoke Hood

Who smells popcorn?
Who smells popcorn?

This one costs $69 bucks and looks like it was made by Jiffy Pop. Protects against carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride, and anthrax. According to the company's website, and I kid you not, it "slips on like a Halloween mask." Furthermore, it is "designed for children 2 years old up to 120." Meaning, if you are an infant or the world's oldest lady, you are screwed.

2. The Evac-U8

This one is from DuPont. As in chemicals. As in plastic. As in a name you trust. But wait! There was a recall notice on this product, and not just because it makes the wearer look like he is trying to suck a can of Mountain Dew through a plastic bag. The Evac-U8 exposes the wearer to carbon monoxide. At least 290,000 of the ones made in 2006 do.

3. The Peace of Mind Evacuation Hood

This one costs $40 bucks. It gives you 20 minutes of breathable air. That's two dollars per minute of air. Putting a plastic bag over your head would seem to be contradictory to, you know, life. But hey, safety behaviors are counter intuitive a lot of the time.

4. MSA Smoke Hood

Now that's what I'm talking about. It costs around $280. Is supposedly what the offshore oil industry uses. It protects against radiant heat and does not look like you threw a Ziploc bag over your head. (Though maybe those plastic bags work well. I don't know. Do they?) It's orange. Which is the color of safety equipment the world over. It's also the color of fire. But now I'm just being nitpicky.


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