Figure 6-2.--Skin decontamination kits.
Unit corpsmen know the types and levels of
natural infection for the area of operations. They
monitor these levels. If a given disease reaches a high
Solutions in the M258A1 decon kit are
level, they decide whether or not a deliberate
flammable and unstable in storage at
biological attack has occurred.
temperatures above 110°F (43°C) or for long
periods in sunlight. Also, protect it from
freezing temperatures. Used at 32°F (0°C) or
The best biological defense is to take action before
you are attacked. Keep immunizations up-to-date,
observe basic sanitary precautions, and keep skin
If you do not have a skin decon kit, chemical
breaks covered. Treat minor cuts or abrasions by
ordinary first-aid measures (iodine, Zephiran, or
with a cloth and the area flushed with water from your
Merthiolate). Washing with soap and water removes
canteen. Pinch-blotting is better than rubbing because
nearly all biological agents from the skin. Frequent
showering or bathing lessens chances of infection and
available, can also be used to wash the agent from the
disease. A 0.5 percent sodium hypochlorite
skin. Washing with soap and water (or hot water) is
(household bleach) solution is also an effective
the next best method for toxic agent decon. This
method is not as effective as using the decon kits.
make this solution.
NOTE: The M291 skin decon kit replaces the
M258A1 skin decon kit. However, there will still be
a time when the two kits are available in the field.
Because no immediate life-threatening hazard is
skin decon is required. However, wash exposed areas
Currently, no means exists of detecting biological
of your skin when possible. If your skin is
agents. You probably will not know immediately
contaminated by radiological contamination, use
w h e n you have become contaminated. Most
operational decon techniques immediately. (See
biological agents, except toxins, pose their primary
"MOPP Gear Exchange" for a detailed discussion on
threat through inhalation or ingestion. The skin is an
effective barrier against most biological agents if it has
no cuts or scratches.