MIRA Dosimeter Geiger Counter Review
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MIRA Safety is a quality producer of HAZ-MAT, Nuclear, and Radiological safety gear. Many of you are familiar with their line of professional-grade gas masks. My experience with MIRA started when I reviewed the best selling CM-6 mask. You can check out that review here.
Before COVID-19, I was concentrating a lot of research on nuclear preparedness since it was an area that I considered myself the least prepared. The original idea was that I was going to use the MIRA Personal Dosimeter to test the radiation level of a toy duck painted with radium.
Radioactive Duck is an IPA beer from Able Baker Brewing in Las Vegas, NV. I love their graphic.
Unfortunately, after receiving my dosimeter I was informed that the family radioactive heirloom duck had been thrown away. It was very unfortunate timing. It had been in the family for several generations and was always stored in a metal box that was locked and in a closet.
For those that are not aware of it, children’s toys were once painted with radium. This duck was made to go on one of those carousel things that hang in cribs and kids can swat at. The fact that it doubled as a soothing nightlight was considered a bonus back in the day.
MIRA Dosimeter Geiger Counter Review
The MIRA dosimeter takes up very little space and is very easy to use. This is not surplus or something made by an off brand so you can actually rely on it for many years to come.
Why do you need a dosimeter or radiation detector in your preps?
There are currently over 90 nuclear reactors in operation in the United States. Many of these reactors are on the Eastern seaboard where a very high percentage of the population of the United States is located.
On top of that, there are a lot of nuclear weapons and hazardous waste areas that are concerning. Remember that the spent fuel rods in the USA are stored on-site at nuclear reactors and they rely on pumps and outside power to keep them cooled off. There is a lot that can go wrong in an emergency. In fact, we have come close to that at times. The Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant required a lot of sandbags and reinforcements around it to keep the Mississippi River from flooding the reactor plant.
Sure there are back up systems in place but those do not foolproof either. Nuclear power plants rely on the grid for power to pumps but have generator backups that run on diesel. While they say they have so many days worth of backup, I am not going to rely on what they say to be the truth. Diesel had to be rolled into the Indian Point plant over a gangplank to avoid a catastrophe.
There have also been some close calls when planes carrying nuclear bombs have crashed and the bombs came very close to detonating. This happened many times from the 1950s to as recent as 2007.
Now consider that this is just what is admitted! I would not be surprised if there were just as many incidents that were never documented or released to the public. The scary thing is that some of these devices were totally lost an thus still a potential threat.
For a list and map and list of times that people lost control of their nukes, check out this article from Business Insider. The interactive map is fascinating and includes specifics on each incident.
So in order to test this dosimeter out, we did a few different things.
In areas like the mountains of North Carolina, there are a lot of decaying rocks. This can lead to higher than average levels of radium. In some cases, the level may actually be concerning. When Matt tested our basement the levels were a little higher than in the actual house but not enough to be worried about. If you live in a place with lots of rock or a mountainous area it may be worth testing your basement if you have not before.
Radon can be a real health hazard and in some areas it is something that is often tested before a house is sold, especially if it is an older one.
My 1960s Radiation Survey Detector
It is kind of funny but for a brief few seconds, the sensor part of the old radiation detector I got at Old Grouch Military Surplus actually registered higher than the rest of the house. That makes sense really when you consider that it might have at least been exposed and used a little bit when it was made even if it was just used for training.
A dosimeter allows you to keep track of your total radiation dosage over a given period of time.
If you have to be in a radioactive area it can be very useful to know your total accumulated dose. Your total exposure rate is the major factor as to what side effects might occur. While radiation does affect people in different ways, there is a level where you are in the danger zone of getting radiation poisoning or slowly dying.
Dosimeters also alert you to levels as you travel. For example if the reading starts going up as you head in a particular direction, then you may want to rethink your plans.
For the adventurous types, dosimeters allow you to determine how long you can stay in an area. Believe it or not, the Chernobyl power plant and the exclusion zone are actually quite popular tourist destinations. There are a ton of videos on Youtube showing people’s experiences. Some of the more foolish go into areas and touch things that they are technically not allowed to but at least they are carrying a dosimeter/Geiger counter to show just how reckless they are being, right?
Dosimeters can help determine if you really need to take potassium iodate.
A lot of preppers have ioSat or other potassium iodate tablets as part of their nuclear preparedness kit. While those are great to have, it is important to know the correct time to take them or even if they are needed. Just because you are within 50 miles of nuclear incident doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to be exposed to fallout or radiation. The way the wind is blowing and other factors play a role. You do not want to take potassium iodide if you don’t have to. It is not without its own side effects.
On the other hand, if you are in a zone of radioactive fallout, it is important to take your potassium iodate promptly. It is best to take it slightly before fallout reaches you if you are fairly sure it is going to be a problem or at least within 3-4 hours after exposure is assured. The longer you wait the less good it is going to do.
One of the problems that occurred at Chernobyl and Pripyat was that people were given tablets too long after exposure so they didn’t do any good. There was also a lot of poor information so some people took more than what they should of or gave children a lot more than they should have ever consumed. This caused a lot of other health issues.
A dosimeter is just part of a nuclear preparedness kit.
One of the reasons that so many people look over nuclear preparedness is that there is some specialized gear that you are are only going to use in the event of a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack. Until recently, most of us figured that a mask wasn’t going to be part of our daily lives.
I think it is important to point out some of the other gear that you need to consider if you want to be prepared for a nuclear event. Some of this gear you may already be considering due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MIRA Hazmat suits are hand stitched in the USA. They have a hood that perfectly fits over the seal of your gas mask so that you have total protection. Elastic at the sleeves and legs make for a much better fit than a disposable Tyvek suit. I also have to point out that they come in different sizes so you are not stuck wearing something that is large and cumbersome. I have spent some time in a Tyvek suit and I have to say that they run quite large.
These come in various sizes. I advise sizing up if you are close to the upper limit for a size because you are probably going to want to have other clothing on under the suit and you need to allow enough room for good movement.
MIRA Gas Mask
These masks come in two different styles. One is designed for use with advanced optics such as night vision. These are very high quality masks designed for professional use but available to the public.
I have the CM-6 mask and have to say that it is very comfortable to wear and easy to put on. There is a very small price difference between the two styles they offer. The mask that is designed to be used with optics is currently a mere $10 more.
MIRA filters fit all gas masks that use standard NATO 40 MM threading.
If you already own an gas mask then chances are it takes the same threading as all the other popular styles. If you want a filter cartridge as back up or are worried that your current cartridge has seen better days, I encourage you to take a look at the filters offered by MIRA.
I feel that it is necessary to point out that MIRA filters do cost more than the surplus filters you may be used to buying. There is a reason for this though and it is very important. A surplus filter only has so many years left on the shelf life. Consider the M-15 Israeli mask I bought recently via a military surplus dealer. While the mask and cartridge is new and sealed, it was manufactured anywhere from 2006-2009. That means that there is 6-11 years left on the cartridge life. When you buy a cartridge from MIRA you get a 20 year shelf life because it is not surplus. That is the difference between a $40 filter and a $70-$75 filter.
Note: If you buy a gas mask from MIRA, the purchase price of any filters you buy at the same time is discounted (excluding the virus filters described in the next section).
You actually don’t need the more expensive gas mask cartridges to protect yourself from COVID-19. If you have a gas mask and a new filter, you might consider buying some of the inexpensive filters that MIRA sells. At $150 for 6, they offer a better value and might save you a lot of money throughout the course of this pandemic. I know that I am picking up a set myself so I don’t just have my much more expansive nuclear/biological filter. I can use 3 virus filters and save some weight on my face for the same cost as my nuclear filter costs.
Discounts For Military, Firefighters, and Law Enforcement
MIRA has a discount program for those in the occupations listed above. Here is the link for more information on how to submit info and get your discount.
Nuclear threats are part of life and will continue to be.
Nuclear power is not going away anytime soon. While the current pandemic is the main concern for everyone right now, a lot of the gear and preps necessary are the same. This is an excellent time to consider your nuclear preparedness alongside the biological measures you are having to take on in your daily life.
While I think that nuclear war is actually highly unlikely, I don’t think that we can trust the current method of storing nuclear waste or maintaining our nuclear power plants. The threat to our health and wellbeing is right here in the United States but gets overlooked to a large degree.
Do you have a nuclear preparedness kit? Have you added anything into it for pets? MIRA makes some nuclear chambers for small to medium pets that can be used in case of evacuation. They also double as a chamber for an infant.