The first step in any plan is to prepare how to respond. A respirator is only a small part of that plan. In many cases, staying put - an action known as shelter-in-place - may be your first defense against a chemical or biological attack. 

 According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  respirators are effective only if the correct respirator is used, it's available when you need it, you know when and how to put it on and take it off, and you have stored it and kept it in working order in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Even a small amount of facial hair can render a respirator useless, while others limit speaking capabilities. Additionally, understanding how to use a mask, hood or respirator prior to an emergency is crucial. Self-training and following manufacturers instructions is vital to ensuring that personal preparation equipment is able to sufficiently protect your, your family and employees.

For assistance with developing a sound protection plan, the US Department of Homeland Security offers information on emergency planning recommendations on its website http://www.ready.gov/ and through a toll-free number, 1-800-BE-READY. 

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