Emergency Escape Masks

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In 2004, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff, with funding from the U.S. Fire Administration, began an evaluation of respiratory protective escape device (RPED) performance to determine if RPEDs have the potential to reduce fire-related residential deaths and injuries.

Evaluation of Consumer Personal Protective Equipment: Emergency Escape Masks

Executive Summary

Three RPED models were tested in accordance with provisions of the voluntary standard, American National Standard for Air-Purifying Respiratory Protective Smoke Escape Devices (ANSI/ISEA 110). The tests that were determined by CPSC staff to be most important in evaluating effectiveness were conducted. Testing focused on function, human factors issues, durability, and flammability.

The test results showed that the RPEDs selected for evaluation did not meet standard requirements associated with donning. These results indicate that improvements may be needed in operational packaging to allow novice users to quickly determine correct RPED donning procedures. All of the models tested complied with requirements to assess field of vision, and two of the three models met requirements to evaluate leakage.

For all three RPED models evaluated, there were failures associated with tests to assess breathing resistance, either initially or after conditioning. There were also failures associated with total inward leakage (fit) and soot particulate performance. These results indicate a need to improve factors that influence breathing resistance, such as filter design and seal integrity. The RPEDS met requirements for flammability, molten polymeric drip, and radiant heat resistance; however, they did not meet requirements associated with corrosion resistance performance.

Human Factors Analysis of Consumer Personal Protective Equipment: Emergency Escape Masks

Executive Summary

There are a variety of fire/emergency escape devices, commonly called "smoke hoods" or "smoke masks," marketed to assist consumers in safe egress from fire emergencies. They are intended to provide head, eye, and respiratory protection from particulate matter, eye irritants, carbon monoxide, and other toxic gases commonly produced by structural fires.

Five RPEDs were selected for evaluation on the basis of availability (all available online) and price (covering a range of prices). In 2005, CPSC's Division of Human Factors staff conducted a human factors analysis of these RPEDs. This report presents the results of the staff analysis, which included an evaluation of fit; filter-related factors; behavioral factors; instructions, warnings, and general usability; and a donning test.

In general, the RPEDs followed several good human factors practices, such as considering a wide range of anthropometric dimensions and designing so that they are intuitive to don. None of the RPEDs evaluated conformed to all aspects of the labeling requirements of the voluntary standard, nor did any RPED pass the donning test in the standard. For all five RPEDs evaluated, improvements in marking and labeling for ease of reading in emergency situations would be beneficial.