2022 Hazmat Suit for Kids Guide

2022 Hazmat Suit for Kids Guide

by Matt Collins

Preparing children for a possible chemical gas attack or radiation exposure is probably the last thing on a parent’s mind. But should such an unfathomable event occur, only properly CBRN-rated PPE will sufficiently protect them. That’s where a professional-grade, hazmat suit for kids comes in.

As covered in our Best Gas Mask for Kids Guide, today’s PPE providers (and PPE users) have a massive blind spot when it comes to protecting the youngest and most vulnerable members of our families.

That’s because most of the best gas masks and hazmat suits were initially designed for military, government, or official use. So, they’ve only been available in adult sizes, haven’t been available through retail outlets, and offer almost no options to protect children from the most extreme threats and disasters.

Fortunately, that’s all changed.

In this article, we’re looking at practical hazmat safety suits specifically designed to protect children as young as four from a wide range of threats like VX gas, sarin, or even nuclear fallout.

We look at what makes an excellent kid hazmat suit, and why it’s difficult to find. After considering the unique challenges children face in the field, we look at some crucial pieces of gear you need to help them survive any number of unpredictable disasters.

Once again, no parent wants to think about this, but now there is finally an answer. And uncompromising CBRN protection is finally within reach for every American family.

So, let’s get started.


  • 01

    Kids’ Unique PPE Challenges

  • 02

    Common CBRN Exposure Threats

  • 03

    5 Things a Good Kids Hazmat Suit Should Do

  • 04

    Realities of Wearing a Hazmat Suit

  • 05

    Best Hazmat Suit for Kids

  • 06

    Honorable Mention: M4 CBRN Poncho

  • 07

    Children’s Hazmat Options to Avoid

  • 08

    3 Additional Safety Considerations

  • 09

    Decontamination and Cleansing

  • 10

    Be Prepared, as Boy Scouts Say

Kids’ Unique PPE Challenges

Until recently, there was practically nothing in the way of CBRN protection to fit anyone under 16.

MIRA Safety remains one of the few reputable brands that provide multiple gas mask and respirator options for small children. Further differentiating the company is the fact that they offer the only sustainable and affordable commercial hazmat suit for children. And fortunately, as you’ll see, it’s a great one.

(Image source: Image Courtesy of MASK Tactical)

Kids’ needs are generally similar to those of adults when it comes to hazmat suits. The first and most critical need is a suit that fits. Young children may be small now, but in just a few years, they’ll rocket up to adult height. Finding the right suit isn’t easy, especially in a size that will last.

Young children may be slightly limited in their range of movement while wearing a hazmat suit. As long as it fits comfortably, they will still be able to make their way around.

With certain types of hazmat suits and gas masks, children may fatigue more rapidly than adults. Children are likewise more prone to dehydration during long periods of use. So, it’s essential to have sufficient water on hand to replace that lost through sweat.

Far and away, the greatest PPE challenge for kids is psychological. Children may panic in the face of something unpredictable, especially if they haven’t had any training on how to respond.

Therefore it is essential to familiarize younger family members with PPE as soon as possible. Any parent who had to teach kids about wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic can attest to that. It’s equally important to get kids comfortable with wearing a hazmat suit as it is acquiring one.

Common CBRN Exposure Threats

Why do hazmat suits matter so much?

Most people rightfully focus on gas masks first and foremost. A full-face respirator is indispensable for protecting your airways and the soft tissues of your eyes, nose, and mouth from the deadliest threats. Combined with the right filter, a good gas mask can get you through almost anything.

(Image source: Image Courtesy of BBC)

But not all threats have to be inhaled to hurt or kill.

Mustard gas was first formulated in 1822 and remains one of the most devastating blistering agents. Used in conflicts from World War One to the Iran-Iraq War, it’s been responsible for over 100,000 deaths and is strictly regulated as a chemical weapon. Direct exposure to mustard gas doesn’t have an immediate effect, making it deceptive. Severe irritation follows within a few hours, with painful blisters forming over chemical burns on the skin. These burns can be as dangerous as third-degree burns. Those who survive exposure face an increased risk of cancer for the rest of their lives.

Sarin gas is colorless and odorless, and exposure to even minuscule quantities is deadly. It’s considered a weapon of mass destruction, and stockpiling it is outlawed worldwide. It works by interrupting a key neurotransmitter, leading to muscle spasms, constriction of the pupils, and—within 10 minutes—death. Sarin is absorbed through the skin as well as through the airway.

VX gas is similar to sarin, as it is also a nerve agent with similar consequences. Sweating, nausea, runny nose, and shortness of breath are all short-term symptoms of direct exposure. Like sarin, VX ultimately kills by stopping neuromuscular activity, causing death by asphyxiation.

Nuclear fallout is a unique and devastating threat if direct contact is involved. By now, many people are familiar with the firefighters of Chernobyl, who rushed to the exploded reactor core just moments after the disaster. These firefighters were directly exposed to massive amounts of radiation and were subsequently rushed to the hospital. Today, more than 35 years after the disaster, their soiled fire-fighting clothes remain in the hospital’s basement—and are still massively radioactive. That’s the result of direct exposure.

(Image source: Image Courtesy of Liverpool Echo)

Of course, these are a few of the most extreme direct exposure threats.

Chemical and nuclear weapons are all highly regulated, and the possibility of encountering one is extremely rare. A good hazmat suit is explicitly designed to protect you from the most toxic and deadly threats ever devised. So, you can wear one confidently and not worry about a chemical splash or direct contact with chemical warfare agents.

But that’s not all it can do …

5 Things a Good Kids Hazmat Suit Should Do

1. Provide Total-Body Coverage: A good hazmat suit should be a one-piece garment that protects your legs, arms, torso, and head. It should cover every part of your body that is not covered by a gas mask, boots, or gloves (more on those in a moment). It should have reinforced seams so that it won’t tear during use.

2. Deliver All-in-One Protection: Specialized safety suits don’t make sense for children. Instead, it’s best to keep things simple. It’s easier for young ones to work with a single protective garment that’s comfortable to wear and easy to use.

3. Maintain Known Standards: We cover this critical factor in greater detail below, but a good children’s hazmat suit should meet the same standards as a suit for adults. So, make sure to check whether there’s a certification backing up any marketing claims.

4. Offer Maximum Holdout Time: Many garments protect against direct exposure to CBRN threats, but a good hazmat suit offers protection that lasts for up to 8 hours. That’s a day’s worth of precious time to get to safety, decontaminate, and change clothes before the threat ever breaks through the barrier.

5. Be Reusable: Some hazmat suits are disposable, single-use garments. That’s fine for professionals and folks who already have had extensive training, but kids need to practice with their hazmat suits. If they bump their knee or scrape an elbow in the process, you want them to do it in a suit that’s designed to last, resist punctures, and be used multiple times.

Realities of Wearing a Hazmat Suit

Each hazmat suit is designed to protect against a specific range of CBRN threats.

That means their construction, advantages, and limitations are dictated by the type of protection they’re designed to provide. Crime scene analysts are only worried about potential exposure to bodily fluids or debris, so they only wear a thin suit with a half-face respirator. However, a high-security lab at the Centers for Disease Control might feature full-body suits with detachable hoses to pump in fresh air.

Lightweight suits provide less protection and may be made of absorbent materials. This allows them to breathe and makes them more comfortable to wear during a long workday—as many professionals do.

On the other hand, true CBRN hazmat suits are typically designed to be completely impenetrable. This prevents a far more comprehensive range of threats from potentially reaching the skin, but it also keeps fresh air from getting to the skin.

The third type of hazmat suit is semi-permeable, which provides greater comfort through breathability. Although these suits still provide comprehensive protection, they’re not yet available in children’s sizes.

Once the wearer is inside the suit, their body is 100% covered. Gloves, boots, mask, and suit protect their entire body, and then Kappler ChemTape should be used to seal each junction. This can be a relatively new sensation for any user, especially for children, so it’s essential to practice a few times before any real-world use.

With children especially, it’s essential to teach them not to tamper with their suit while they’re wearing it. It might be tempting for them to pick at an exposed bit of ChemTape on their wrist, but they should be mindful of maintaining the integrity of each seal, avoiding snags and being careful with their suit. Kids learn quickly, and they often treat such tasks like a game. As such, it is vitally important for parents to constantly monitor their children throughout the entire duration of wearing hazmat suits.

Properly stored, well-maintained, and well-used, a good hazmat suit is a lifeline through the worst day of your life.

But which one do you choose?

Best Hazmat Suit for Kids

With a lack of comparable alternatives, our own MIRA Safety HAZ-SUIT has to be the top pick for versatile total-body PPE.

Developed in conjunction with industry-leading Kappler, Inc., the HAZ-SUIT is the world’s only reusable hazmat suit offered in various sizes—including small sizes that will fit children as young as four.

This exact suit is used in the field by most branches of the US military and the Department of Defense. It’s trusted by military and police worldwide to provide up to 8 hours of protection from chemical splashes and direct exposure to harsh blister agents like mustard gas.

The HAZ-SUIT combines the same durable fabric used in some of the most elite NBC suits with special heat-sealed and taped seams. The result is an impermeable and highly puncture-resistant suit that can be decontaminated and reused any number of times. Importantly, it has a practically unlimited shelf life when stored in the right conditions.

Instead of relying on specialized protective garments, the HAZ-SUIT combines the benefits of a biohazard suit, radioactive suit, and chemical suit all in one. Even among full-size suits, nothing else compares.

This kind of protection comes with a few challenges though.

First, it’s great that the HAZ-SUIT has a practically unlimited shelf life—but kids tend to grow like weeds. At $139 per suit, it’s essential to get the sizing right.

Second, the HAZ-SUIT is impermeable, which is typical for true CBRN protection, as mentioned above. This suit doesn’t breathe at all. Thus, it will be substantially hotter inside the suit than it is outside.

Exertion combined with the buildup of body heat inside the suit typically causes the user to sweat. Those fluids need to be replaced, usually from a canteen attached to the user’s gas mask. It is for this reason we recommend only 1-hour intervals of use for children to prevent overheating and exhaustion, if the circumstances allow for it. Remember, these are tools meant to aid in escaping and evading contaminated environments, not for lingering in them.

(Image source: Image Courtesy of MASK Tactical)

Another necessary piece of equipment is a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) like the MB-90 described below. While many children don’t need a PAPR to use a gas mask, it can still provide substantial airflow that reduces the exertion required to breathe and makes the user more comfortable.

These challenges are just the reality of proper CBRN protection, and they’re an issue with any impermeable hazmat suit.

When it comes to practical, total-body protection from a wide range of chemical, biological, and even nuclear threats, nothing comes close to the MIRA Safety HAZ-SUIT.

Honorable Mention: M4 CBRN Poncho

Strictly speaking, it’s not a hazmat suit, but the M4 CBRN Poncho bears consideration.

Manufactured using cutting-edge polyamide construction, the M4 looks like any standard waterproof poncho. Yet, it provides up to two hours of protection against direct exposure to CBRN threats, specifically blisters agents like mustard gas.

Initially developed for the Serbian military, it’s puncture-resistant, military-grade, and designed for a wide range of operating conditions from -30ºC to 50ºC (-22ºF to 122ºF). It easily fits in the average backpack, weighing in at just 23 ounces and stored in a small sealed package. It’s also available in discreet colors like blue and black. With a 15-year shelf life, this loose-fitting garment can offer years of potential protection as your child grows.

Once again, we must note that the M4 is not a true hazmat suit.

Per rule #1 above, a true hazmat suit has to provide total-body protection. A poncho only rests on the wearer’s shoulders with a hood over their head, leaving most of the body exposed. Since children are inherently small, the M4 will cover more of their bodies, but it still does not offer true full body protection.

The M4 CBRN Poncho is best paired with a permeable, MOPP-style hazmat suit (which will soon be available from MIRA Safety). But, it’s a handy option that’s far more portable than a full-size HAZ-SUIT, and it serves to at least minimize exposure.

Children’s Hazmat Options to Avoid

Searching for a children’s hazmat suit on Google yields over one million results, and we’re not sure whether any of them are valid beyond the HAZ-SUIT discussed above.

Because the kid’s hazmat suits you can find online range from wacky, zombie-style Halloween costumes to odd listings for disposable Chinese cases on Wish.com. We’ve worked our way through thousands of the results from such searches, and absolutely none of them stand up to close examination.

  • Halloween costumes should obviously be avoided entirely. These toys make up 90% of the listings from online retailers, but (like everything else on this list) if they don’t have a protective rating, they’re not worth considering.

  • Disposable Chinese hazmat suits are all over the internet, but we have yet to see one that’s passed safety testing and has the paperwork to prove it. Some of these suits may provide some protection from a narrow range of threats, but it’s impossible to know how much protection or which threats. Without standardized testing to establish breakthrough times and lists of tested threats, you simply cannot trust them. Worse still, we don’t know the conditions in which these suits were made. They may even contain some threat or skin irritant themselves, defeating their purpose.

  • Raincoats or rainboots may seem a reasonable option if you’re frustrated after hours of searching. We strongly recommend against this. Doctors in Bengal used them during the pandemic because of the extreme shortage of hazmat suits. Even then, officials recommended they be worn no longer than 4 hours. Most raincoats provide practically no protection against chemical threats. Breakthrough times could likely be measured in seconds or minutes instead of hours.

Again, do NOT trust a hazmat suit that hasn’t been tested to major international standards.

The MIRA Safety HAZ-SUIT was subjected to a battery of 21 chemicals per the ASTM F1001 list and a pressure test per ASTM F1052. Breakthrough times and maximum protection are listed on the site for anyone to see. There are two solid pages of technical data backed up by an international authority.

If you’re looking at a suit that doesn’t have similar credentials, you’re looking at something you probably shouldn’t trust.

3 Additional Safety Considerations

So far, we’ve looked at which hazmat suits are best for kids. In a previous article, we covered which gas masks might work best for your young ones.

But there are a few other pieces of gear you can’t overlook …

First, as mentioned above, is a quality powered air-purifying respirator. Impermeable hazmat suits can get hot quickly, and it’s easy for the wearer to over-exert themselves. A PAPR helps prevent this by pumping air directly into the user’s gas mask, making it easier to breathe.

Our MB-90 PAPR is a solid choice thanks to its durable construction and high sustained airflow. It uses AA batteries and is based on an Israeli military design, making it rugged enough to endure just about anything a kid can throw at it. The MB-90 is a powerful all-around tool that’s good to have in your PPE arsenal.

Second, kids must have a good pair of hazmat gloves and boots. Manual dexterity is a challenge for young kids, but even older kids need some feeling of control. Our MIRA Safety HAZ-GLOVES are twice as thick as military standard gloves, meaning twice the crucial holdout time against possible exposure.

Like all good hazmat gloves, they’re made from tough butyl rubber that’s resistant to all of the blister agents and chemical threats mentioned above while also being flexible enough to grasp and handle objects. 

CBRN rated boots are also an essential component to have for any hazmat suit, as it allows the user to walk safely in contaminated areas. MIRA Safety will be offering their own line of hazmat boots soon.

Finally, it’s essential to ensure your child has a working radio headset.

While most children’s gas mask options don’t provide the necessary accessories for a microphone, it’s still vital that you can communicate with your children. Any day they’re using a hazmat suit is bound to be one of the most exciting and terrifying experience they’ve ever had.

With a radio and a few basic gestures for nonverbal communication, you can help keep kids on task and prevent panic. Communication is vital for survival.

Decontamination and Cleansing

Protecting your kids from common CBRN threats is only half the battle.

After exposure, those toxic, radioactive compounds will be on the outer surface of their suit, mask, boots, and gloves. So, before removing any of those items, it’s crucial to ensure they’ve been completely decontaminated.

Failure to do so can expose you to the very threats you’ve worked so hard to avoid.

A typical example of this is when tear gas is used for riot control. Police and protestors alike are exposed, and the tear gas condenses back into a liquid on their scalp, face, hands, and shoulders. When they go home and take a shower, the warm steam of the shower reacts with the liquid on their skin, resulting in essentially gassing themselves.

Therefore, it’s crucial to remove 100% of these threats before you risk ingesting or reactivating them. Official decontamination procedures can be highly complicated, but they typically involve showering yourself with large amounts of diluted cleaning solution.

(Image source: Image courtesy University of Bristol)

However, the most critical factor during decontamination and every step of the PPE process is simply knowledge.

If you know what threats you were exposed to, you’ll have a better idea of how to get rid of them. Different contaminants require different types of decontamination. If the authorities can help, it’s essential to provide them with as much information as possible.

Be Prepared, as Boy Scouts Say

The Boy Scouts have been a pillar of American life for over a century now.

Perhaps the most important lesson the organization shares with young people is “be prepared.” In fact, it’s so important they made it their motto.

It teaches kids to think ahead, be patient, and react to the situation appropriately. Most importantly, it gives kids a much-needed sense of self-reliance. It’s hugely empowering for children to realize that they’re not helpless and that they can take their fate into their own hands.

Today’s kids are growing up in a different world than we did.

They’re overwhelmed with information, flooded with endless headlines about the global pandemic, and constantly under threat at school. Now, the existential threat of the Cold War—potential nuclear conflict with Russia—suddenly seems to have reappeared.

Now more than ever, it makes sense to have practical PPE for every member of your family.

Beyond essential physical protection, it provides the youngest family members with peace of mind and lasting lessons about protecting yourself and the ones you love. It shows them that even in an uncertain world, they still have some control —even in the worst possible situations.

Most importantly, it can help instill the survivor’s spirit in them. It can give them a positive attitude, which is more important than any single piece of PPE.