Why You Need a CBRN Go Bag for your Car in 2023
In 2020 alone, we watched a pandemic shut down the world, tear gas flew in our streets, and the American public began to realize that chemical weapons and biological threats could come right to their front door. You might have even considered a CBRN go bag for your car.
Fast forward 2 years, and we watched Russia invade Ukraine, taking control of a nuclear power plant that had the whole world on edge over the radiological impacts.
Now it is 2023, and the world is watching with wide eyes as NATO, Ukraine, and Russia are facing off in what could be the first stage of WWIII. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned that he will use nuclear weapons if provoked.
CBRN threats are all around us. It doesn't look like they are going anywhere anytime soon. The question is: are you prepared to deal with them to the best of your ability? MIRA Safety is here to help with that.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is a CBRN Go Bag
Why do you Need a CBRN Go Bag for your Car?
Key Considerations for Building a CBRN Go Bag for your Car
Essential Items to Include in your CBRN Go Bag
Tips for Maintaining and Updating your CBRN Go Bag
Don’t Forget About Decontamination
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a CBRN Go Bag?
The go bag is a backpack, sling bag, or hiking bag filled with items needed to quickly escape a dangerous situation. The go bag might be something that people keep in their homes to evacuate or bug out. It might be a bag stored at work should there be a disaster.
While most go bags are designed to address a broad range of disasters and to get you to safety, the CBRN go bag is built to deal specifically with chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. Some might call it a "gas mask bag," but the technically correct term would be CBRN go bag.
Recent events have taught us that CBRN threats are something we need to worry about. Whether talking about a pandemic or dangerous virus, chemical spills, or even the threat of nuclear war, which seems to be increasing daily, CBRN threats have been front and center in our society for three years.
Building out a bag, for this reason, can be very intimidating for people unfamiliar with CBRN. You must understand that you have lived or are already living through several situations.
Why do you Need a CBRN Go Bag for your Car?
Go bags at home allow you to quickly leave your home. At work, a go bag might enable you to deal with a disaster onsite or get home safely. What happens if a CBRN-related incident occurs while you are in your vehicle?
We spend a tremendous amount of time in our vehicles. The daily commute is a massive undertaking, and we would see massive gridlock in any major disaster. What would you do if trapped on a highway during a serious CBRN situation?
You would have about two choices.
Stay in your car and take advantage of the little protection it can afford.
Get out of the area of the immediate threat.
Walking out into that environment could prove fatal if we discuss a radiological disaster or nuclear fallout. This is where your CBRN go bag in your car comes into play. This go bag is designed to protect you from these kinds of threats so that you get home safe.
Recent CBRN Threats
You might think of the most extreme circumstances when seeing the acronym CBRN. You might think of hazmat suits and gas masks, and you might even believe that CBRN protection is something only the military would need access to.
Truth is, we have faced, or are facing, every type of threat that CBRN preparedness and protection is designed for. That might seem hard to believe, so let's take a look.
As I write this article, the people of East Palestine, Ohio, are suffering from a massive, hazardous chemical spill and burn-off that has looked quite apocalyptic from the outside.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to monitor the air, water, and soil impacts from a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this month.
Investigators said a broken axle caused the derailment of about 50 rail cars, including 11 carrying hazardous materials, on Feb. 3. No one was injured in the wreck.
The media is reporting on a term it has coined, 'tripledemic,' this is three epidemics in the U.S. hitting all simultaneously.
The winter's "tripledemic" of respiratory viruses impacted nearly 40 percent of U.S. households, with someone there getting sick with the flu, COVID-19, or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to a new survey from KFF released Tuesday.
According to a Norwegian intelligence report, Russia has started deploying tactical nuclear weapons-armed vessels in the Baltic Sea for the first time in three decades.
The annual report released by the Norwegian Intelligence Service on 13 February states that the vessels belonged to Russia's Northern Fleet, reported The New Voice of Ukraine.
The fleet's warships regularly went to sea with nuclear weapons during the Soviet era, but this is the first time the Russian Federation has deployed them, the report stated.
Currently, the United States utilizes 62 nuclear power plants to produce energy. With the tensions rising between the U.S. and Russia, we have to be honest that these power plants are targets in the event of an all-out war with Russia.
Even if these were not targeted with nuclear weapons, we could see attacks on these power plants to cut the power to millions and cause a radiological disaster.
The threat profile in the United States has changed dramatically. It is in every American's best interest to be prepared to deal with threats like these.
Key Considerations for Building a CBRN Go Bag for your Car
Building an everyday go bag for your car will focus on getting your home as quickly as possible. It will likely share many things we will pack into this CBRN go bag. The big difference will be the addition of PPE and measurement tools to mitigate CBRN threats.
It could be a flood or snowstorm that strands you. A solid go bag can help you get home on foot or navigate a natural disaster differently. The most significant difference with CBRN threats is that the air you breathe threatens your health.
You have to be able to filter the air and protect your lungs, and possibly your entire body, from a CBRN threat.
Local CBRN Threats
When building your go bag, study your local area for CBRN-related threats. Rather than creating a kit for the chance that you might have to survive a nuclear war, you should first look at what is manufactured in your area and how power is generated.
As we learned in Ohio, knowing what types of chemicals travel on your local train tracks might also be essential.
This will require research, but you can determine if your area has local CBRN threats. Here are some examples of what you might be looking for.
Chemical Manufacturing Plant
Manufacturing that Uses Hazardous Chemicals
Nuclear Power Plant
Military Bases (Nuclear Weapon Target)
Gain of Function Research Facility (this is a joke)
There is a heightened potential for a CBRN disaster if you live near one of the above listed. The CBRN go bag for your car will be even more critical in areas like these.
What is a Dosimeter?
A dosimeter is a crucial component of your CBRN go bag. This is an instrument that is designed to measure and monitor radiation exposure. A quality dosimeter, like The MIRA Safety Geiger-2 Dosimeter / Radiation Detector.
This dosimeter is an easy-to-use and fully customizable instrument built like the best. It uses the same SBM-20-1 Geiger Muller tube as Geiger counters used in the military. It takes just 20 seconds to get an accurate reading and is rechargeable with a USB-C.
What is Potassium Iodide?
This is another product that can be stored in your CBRN go bag for your car in case of a nuclear or radiological disaster. A potassium iodide supplement is designed to protect you from radiation poisoning.
These tablets are individually sealed, and each one is 65mg. They have a 10-year shelf life and can sit in your bag for a long time.
Taking a potassium iodide tablet gives your body a safe, stable source of iodine before exposure to potentially unsafe iodine. This is carefully measured to ensure you receive enough iodine (never too much) to last 24 hours and ward off the potentially damaging effects of radioactive iodine (I-131). The half-life of I-131 is just over a week, making this ten-day supply a perfect solution for most buyers.
Newborns (birth – 1 month): 16 mg (1/4 65 mg tablet)
Infants (1 month – 3 years): 32 mg (1/2 65 mg tablet)
Children (3–18): 65 mg (1 whole tablet)
Adults (18+): 130 mg (2 whole tablets)
We highly recommend the MIRA Safety Potassium Iodide Tablets, as it is available in large quantities and cost effective.
What are CWD-3 DETEHIT Detection Strips
You need something to help you detect chemical weapons and even high concentrations of pesticides in the air, in water, or on surfaces. Each tube of CWD-3 DETEHIT comes with 10 strips that can detect nerve agents in 3 minutes.
These strips are designed to identify two of the deadliest groups of CWAs—G agents (sarin, soman, tabun) and V agents (V.X. Gas). These strips are ideal for detecting whether removing CBRN gear is safe after exposure to CWA threats.
These are a must-have for the CBRN go bag.
What to Put in a CBRN Go Bag
What people often need clarification about building emergency bags like go bags or get-home bags is that they should look for a list online from an expert. No matter how much of an expert someone is on emergency preparedness, only you are an expert on your situation.
You know the most important aspects of your life. Things like your own personal capabilities and limitations. You see the distance you must travel to get home from work. You know the type of areas you may have to travel through and the threats attributed to them.
These personal considerations are just as important as the recommendations we will provide you with. The following list is a framework for you, and I recommend sticking to the PPE recommendations as they were carefully considered.
The rest of the items can be tweaked to meet your personal needs.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
In this category, I am looking to check two specific boxes. The first is the most important: to protect me, inside and out, from whatever kind of CBRN emergency we are dealing with.
The second box is all about measuring the threat around me. I want to be able to measure radiation, and I want to be able to measure chemical particulates in the air. This type of complex data may not encourage me to remove my PPE, but it will give me an authentic feel for what is happening around us.
You also need to consider those who are traveling with you. If you have children, then they will need PPE, too. You could create a bag for them or carry the proper PPE to meet their needs in your own bag.
Combining premium features with superior mil-spec construction, MIRA Safety's CM-6M CBRN Tactical Gas Mask protects your face, internal organs, and respiratory system against a full spectrum of toxic industrial chemicals (TIC) and chemical warfare agents (CWA), including chemical, biological and nuclear threats such as radioactive dust, noxious gas, vaporized pollutants and more.
(Remember to invest in a gas mask pouch to help keep your gas mask safe once you stuff it in your bag.)
A radical solution for a children's gas mask comes from the CBRN experts at the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Combining a compact, battery-powered blower with a current CBRN filter, this expandable hood can be deployed in a matter of seconds to provide hours of protection and easy breathing for some of the youngest members of your family.
The NBC-77 SOF 40mm gas mask filter canister, in combination with a full-face mask, mouthpiece assembly, or PAPR, reliably protects air passages against a wide range of harmful and highly toxic substances, including all known CBRN agents.
The MIRA Safety HAZ-SUIT is one of the world's only disposable hazmat suits in various sizes—fitting children as young as four.
Durable butyl hazmat gloves are an absolute necessity for any complete PPE kit. Our protective CBRN gloves help meet the need of numerous law enforcement agencies, militaries, and civilians worldwide.
Communication and Navigation Equipment
Communications and navigation are likely to play a big part in getting your home. Using a one-way communications device in your CBRN go bag, you can learn important information about the scenario.
A small emergency radio can get you up-to-date news and reports on the threat. Some CBRN threats are hard to diagnose, and you will want intel as the situation evolves so you can be as prepared as possible.
Access to a GPS or paper maps can also allow you to change routes and go around potential threats in the area. Of course, you need some form of communication to know those threat areas exist.
Backup Cell Phone
Small Emergency Radio
First Aid and Medical Supplies
When I think about go bag first aid, I am most interested in having access to the things that will keep me going. In other words, I want to stop bleeding and maintain mobility from strains and injuries that affect my mobility.
I don't worry so much about a long-term infection because the goal of this bag is to get me back to my home, where I have a much more robust cache of medical supplies.
Stop the Bleed Kit
Food and Water
It's always a good thing to travel with water and food. Every American would benefit from having bottled water and shelf-stable snacks in their vehicle. If you have a long way to travel with the CBRN go bag for your car, this section requires more thought.
Large Bottle for Water
Access Tools and Equipment
The tools for this kind of operation should be sparse and lightweight. Remember, a go bag aims to quickly get you from point A to point B. You want to avoid being weighed down by unnecessary equipment.
Access tools are essential when facing CBRN threats. Sometimes, getting into a building away from radiation, fallout, or direct contact with chemicals or nerve agents can mean the difference between life and death.
If that is the case, you should have some tools that will give you access to a safe place in a CBRN emergency.
Small Pry Bar
The problem with donning a gas mask and hazmat suit is that OPSEC goes out the window. Suddenly you become a target because people want what you have. This is particularly true if you pass through a contaminated area with others.
You simply cannot be the gray man if you with your CM-7M strapped to your head. So, you must be prepared to defend yourself should things get hairy.
You might opt for a bit of chemical warfare with less-than-lethal pepper spray. The type of weapons you carry is very personal, but remember that lethality has repercussions.
Important Documents and Cash
It is always essential to have proof of identification on your person. You should also take your registration to your vehicle if you need to abandon it and travel on foot. Medial insurance information will be critical, too.
It's always a good idea to have some cash on hand, too. This can help you deal with trouble and get what you need if the CBRN emergency has affected things like power and Wi-Fi.
Tips for Maintaining and Updating your CBRN Go Bag
When it comes to preparedness, everything needs a schedule. It doesn't matter if we are talking about inventory and inspection of your food pantry or scheduling drills at work, and it can only happen by chance if it's not on a schedule.
If you are building a CBRN go bag for your car, then the chances are you have more than one kind of emergency bag. Schedule a quarterly bag Q.C. or quality check. This means that 4 times per year, you can take all your bags and go through each.
If you do that quarterly Q.C., you will find things that need to be discarded, things that are no longer relevant, and you will see glaring holes in what that bag is capable of. Threats change over time, and your level of overall preparedness changes, too. What you need and want in that bag is going to change drastically.
This is also a great time to assess batteries and charge levels on flashlights and even your dosimeter. It'd be pointless to carry a dead dosimeter in your bag.
Get it on a schedule and commit to maintaining your CBRN go bag.
Don’t Forget About Decontamination
The purpose of the CBRN go bag for your car is to provide you with a layer of safety between you and things like hazardous chemical particulates, dangerous bacteria, and nuclear fallout. These particles can get trapped in the filters of gas masks or land on protective hazmat suits that do not affect you when worn correctly.
If you throw open the door and cross the threshold of your home to greet your family, you will bring all the danger we listed above into your home. That would be a huge mistake; you must decontaminate the whole house!
You can avoid all of this by having some kind of decontamination plan. As important as knowing how to don a gas mask and ensure that all your personal protective equipment is on properly, it is just as important to know how to decontaminate and remove it.
If you use your CBRN go bag and its contents to get home after a disaster, then you must leave the bag and every gear you wear to protect yourself outside. You can store your equipment there if you have a Rubbermaid container or even a couple of contractor bags.
Rinse all of your gear off with soapy water to start. A garden hose and some soap can rinse off your equipment. You should also shower when you get home to ensure that pathogens and particulates are washed off.
CBRN threats seem more like something from a movie plot than anything you might have to deal with. You need to pay more attention to the world around you. As I mentioned in the article, we have faced, or are meeting, every letter in the acronym CBRN as we speak.
We are all focused on world events, and our lens is wide. It gathers all kinds of information daily. However, in a CBRN emergency, your lens will refocus, and it will just be your survival. You will have a better chance with a CBRN go bag for your car.
We have laid out all the best PPE for a CBRN go bag and some great recommendations for what else should go inside. Now it is time to think about your particular needs and the threats in your area. It's up to you to build the perfect bag to keep yourself and your family safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
This will depend mainly on the type of vehicle you drive. One thing to consider is that your CBRN go bag will be a serious investment. I recommend storing your bag in a place hidden from the public eye so that it doesn't tempt anyone to break in and steal it.
The size and type of bag have a lot to do with the distance you will be traveling. The further you are from home the more resources you will need to get there. This means you will need a larger bag.
The other consideration is preference. Do you like a double-strap backpack? Can you carry a sling bag for miles? A gas mask and hazmat suit can even fit in a large messenger bag. Make this thing work for you.
When it comes to any emergency bag, the lighter, the better. Trim away anything that is not essential. Let's be honest; most Americans are out of shape. You will be exhausted by the stress of dealing with a CBRN emergency and the physical demand of walking 5-10 miles.
If your CBRN go bag weighs over 20% of your body weight, you must pair it down.
This stands for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear. It's an acronym tossed around often in "worst-case" style disasters.
Occasionally, you'll see an 'E' tacked onto the end of CBRN. When this happens, the 'E' stands for 'explosives.'
First, you will want to get out of your clothes quickly. Radioactive material could be stuck to them, and the sooner you can get it off your body, the less radiation you will absorb. The CDC says that your outer layer of clothing will be contaminated, so there shouldn't be any need to strip stark naked. Taking this simple step can remove up to 90%
Showering is the next step. Radioactive material could be in your hair; a shower will remove it as efficiently as possible.
If you can't get to a shower, you need to find a way to rinse or wipe off as much of your hair and skin as possible. A baby wipe, sink, or bottled water could be an effective means of doing this.
This depends on several variables. The type of agent encountered, the length of time the filter has been used already, and the age of the filter all will matter here. Our NBC-77 filter, for example, has a 20-year shelf-life. Regarding an emergency evacuation, we generally recommend two daily filters per person.
Keep in mind it's not just the gas mask. You need a nuclear-capable filter as well. That being said, you will want a full-face gas mask for a fallout-filled environment, and you will want to make sure that the one you are using is rated at a high enough level that it will keep your lungs safe.
MIRA Safety full-face gas masks are marked with the 'C.E.' symbol, meet the EN 136:1998, Class III requirements, and comply with EN 168 impact protection standards, meaning if you want a gas mask for nuclear fallout, you wish to choose MIRA Safety.
Nuclear power plant emergencies can release a form of radioactive iodine into the environment, which is terrible because the thyroid really likes to absorb iodine. If this radioactive iodine can bind to one's thyroid, they can develop thyroid cancer.
Potassium iodide is used to flood the thyroid with non-radioactive iodine first, so there are no "empty shelves" for radioactive iodine to rest within the thyroid. This is what our FDA-approved Thyrosafe and our MIRA Safety Potassium Iodide Tablets do.
This depends on the CBRN agent that we are discussing. Many chemical agents can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. Biological agents are typically inhaled, pass through the mucous membranes, or find breaks in the skin to enter. Radiation and nuclear emergencies can be inhaled or ingested, but they also can damage the body simply by being near.
If there is a CBRN attack on the United States, you will hear the term 74 Delta used frequently in the news. These are CBRN specialists within the U.S. Army. They would not only be deployed to monitor and clean up any threats (as much as they could) but would then likely be forward deployed to other locations throughout the United States as a source of monitoring and detection.
It depends on the agent that has contaminated the environment. Rinsing with water works reasonably well on radioactive threats but may give different results for chemical hazards. We do offer two products that can help with this process, however.
Our DS-1 Portable Decontamination Shower serves as an excellent quick-setup decontamination station for those involved in fieldwork in a CBRN environment. At the same time, our MDG-1 Personal CBRN Decontamination Glove can help remove potential threats from your gear.
For more information, check out our guide to cleaning respirators here.