Stay Safe with Emergency Escape Hoods: What You Need to Know

what is an escape hood

EEBDs (emergency escape breathing devices) are common in specific work environments. Escape hoods and escape respirators protect employees from occupational diseases. But having one at home is handy, too. 

We’ve come to a place where we must expect the unexpected. Adding escape hoods to a family emergency plan or fire drill isn’t an overreaction; it’s just preparation.

Let’s look at precisely what escape hoods are and how you may find them helpful.

What is an escape hood?

Emergency Escape Hood Bag EEH-500 Black & Orange With Clip Fabric 14"x9.5"

An escape hood, or escape respirator, is a form of protective gear. It minimizes exposure to certain dangerous substances.

  • Dust
  • Fumes
  • Gas
  • Mists
  • Smoke
  • Vapors

What is an escape hood used for?

An escape hood will give you fifteen minutes to escape a dangerous situation. It is fifteen more minutes than you would have without one.

The respiratory-specific PPE will block chemicals from your eyes and skin and prevent you from inhaling damaging particles. 

Oh, and an escape respirator gives you oxygen in situations where there is none or little. 

Fires Happen Fast

Escape hoods are sometimes part of fire evacuation plans at work or school. During a fire emergency, every second is precious, which means going through drills. Everyone must understand when and how to use them.

The same goes for family fire drills. More practice means less chaos in the case of a catastrophe.

How do you wear an escape hood?

Always read and follow the instructions. Most escape hoods work pretty well the same, but unless you use them correctly, they are entirely useless.

  1. Carefully open the packaging and remove the escape hood.
  2. Unfold the protective gear.
  3. Give the emergency escape hood opening a good stretch so that you can pull it over your head.
  4. The front of the mask should have a cup and two vents. 
  5. Pull the hood open down tightly around the bottom of your neck.
  6. The cup must cover your nose and mouth and sit below your chin.
  7. You will have two straps on the back. Grab them and pull them to secure the escape hood.
  8. The hood opening needs to touch your neck all the way around.
  9. You can now start breathing normally because the hood is doing its job.

When should escape respirators be used?

  • Emergency escape respirators can only be used when the oxygen concentration is at least 19.5%.
  • An escape hood or respirator should only be used in the case of an emergency. It is a short-term solution only made for you to escape. 
  • EEBDs only protect people from inhalation hazards.
  • Failure to follow the instructions can lead to avoidable fatalities.
  • All emergency escape respirators should meet ANSI/ISEA standards 110 -2003 and the American National Standard for Air-Purifying Protective Smoke Escape Devices.
  • While an escape hood protects the face, eye irritation may still occur depending on the chemical and exposure duration.
  • An escape respirator protects from some inhalation hazards that happen during a fire.

An Emergency Escape Hood Only Works If…

  • It’s the correct type of respirator and is available during an emergency.
  • You know how to take it on and off properly and safely. PPE needs to be easy to don and meet standards.
  • The escape hood has been properly stored and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

What are the cons of an escape hood?

You will find all sorts of EEBDs. Emergency escape hoods come with the most pros. But, like with everything, you should know a couple of things before investing in one.

  • Expensive. You’re looking at around $1,000 for a standard, certified escape hood. PPE is never cheap, but sometimes it is the thing that saves a life.
  • Single-use. You only get one use. Granted, if it works, it was well worth the cost. Just make sure it’s out of the reach of kids and pets.
  • An emergency escape hood can’t be used in O2-deficient atmospheres. An escape hood does not work for every emergency.

FAQs about Escape Hoods

What respirator is intended to be used only for an emergency exit?

Emergency escape hoods are only meant to get you out of a hairy situation. For instance, if a nuclear bomb just dropped, an escape-only respirator isn’t doing much to protect you from the fallout.

But an emergency-specific respirator will help you escape a raging housefire.

How long is an escape respirator good for?

The most basic form of an escape hood will give you an extra fifteen minutes in specific emergencies. 

But you can find some that will last up to an hour. But remember that escape respirators are for one-time use and are super expensive.

Will an escape hood protect me if there is not enough oxygen in the air?

An escape hood is an emergency-only short-time solution. It only provides you with time; it will only give you fifteen or so minutes to get somewhere with sufficient air.

What is an escape hood box?

An escape hood box is a sealed cardboard box containing the MSA S-Cap Escape hood, which is specifically designed to assist individuals in escaping from emergency situations involving toxic gases or smoke fumes. This one-time use hood provides a 15-minute escape time.

Why do firefighters wear a hood?

Firefighters wear a hood because it provides protection to the areas of their head that are not covered by the helmet and face mask. The hood is made of a fire and heat resistant material called Nomex, which is a standard piece of firefighting gear.

What is the use of escape mask?

The use of an escape mask is to provide respiratory protection during emergency situations where harmful gases or fumes are present, or when the atmosphere is immediately dangerous to life or health. There are two types of escape masks available: air-purifying escape masks and self-contained atmosphere-protecting masks.

What is the duration of the smoke hood?

The duration of the smoke hood can vary, ranging from 30 seconds to 15 minutes, as these hoods, also known as protective breathing equipment (PBEs), are designed to generate oxygen.

Who invented the smoke hood?

The smoke hood was invented by Garrett Augustus Morgan, who produced a series of successful inventions in the early 20th Century. One of Morgan’s notable inventions was the safety hood, which served as a precursor to the gas mask. This hood gained popularity following a tragic incident in Cleveland, Ohio.

What is a Drager smoke hood?

A Drager smoke hood is a protective device that can be easily worn and provides up to 15 minutes of protection against toxic industrial and fire-related gases, vapors, and particles.

What masks are good for smoke?

A cloth mask with a center filtering layer is effective in reducing risk substantially, although N95 masks offer the highest level of risk reduction.

How long does Drager smoke hood last?

The Dräger PARAT® C smoke hood lasts for a minimum of 15 minutes, providing protection to the wearer against smoke and hazardous gases produced in a fire.

How many minutes will the Parat C smoke hood provide protection?

The Parat C smoke hood will provide protection for at least 15 minutes during a fire, as stated by the Dräger PARAT® C fire escape hood. It is recommended to regularly clean your garment.

What is the purpose of a smoke hood?

The purpose of a smoke hood is to provide clean and safe air for 15 minutes by wearing it over the head, as it forms a tight seal that prevents smoke from entering. The hood filters out toxic gases found in smoke, ensuring that the air you breathe is free from harmful substances.

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.