Masks are a great way to help curb the spread of the Covid-19, making it much safer to leave the house during the coronavirus pandemic. But not all masks are the same. The market is overloaded with different types of masks right now, which leaves you with more questions than answers. Buying a mask can be a bit tricky, but we’re here to help you understand what makes certain masks safer than others.
Why You Should Be Wearing a Mask
First, it’s important to understand why you’re wearing a mask. A face mask greatly reduces your odds of contracting Covid-19 because it is primarily spread through aerosol droplets suspended in the air. In addition to protecting yourself, a mask protects the people around you. This is important to understand because a lot of people mistakenly equate wearing a mask to a personal health decision when it is, in fact, a decision to protect you and the community you live in. Even if you don’t feel sick, you could be asymptomatic and spread Covid-19 to others. So, protect yourself and your community by wearing a mask when you go into public.
Look for the Right Material
There are many different masks on the market that are made from a variety of materials and fabrics. The World Health Organization recommends that people wear fabric masks made with an inner layer of absorbable material like cotton, a middle layer of non-woven material like polypropylene, and an outer layer of non-absorbent material such as polyester or a polyester blend. This is why we recommend buying a mask with multiple layers for improved protection.
Filters Offer Extra Protection
Cotton masks and other tightly woven masks use the density of their fibers to trap incoming particles before they get into your respiratory system. But, masks with replaceable filters offer additional protection by putting more layers between you and the air outside of your mask. Furthermore, most of these filters – like N95 replaceable filters – feature carbon filters and anti-microbial filters, which help to eliminate germs and pollutants.
Find the Right Fit
A mask is only as good as its fit. When buying a mask, it’s important to find one that conforms to the size and shape of your face. When fitting a mask, make sure that there is no gap where unfiltered air can enter your lungs. Specifically, look for any gaps around your nose, openings around your cheeks, or any cracks around your chin area. If the mask has gaps, then it’s not as safe as it needs to be. When buying a mask, look for one that has a metal bar across the nose, which helps conform the mask to the shape of your face. Try to find a mask that has adjustable straps so that you can tighten it appropriately.
Avoid Exhaust Ports
Many popular mask models are those that have filters and exhaust ports. The exhaust ports help divert air away from your face and out of the mask. While this is convenient for the person wearing the mask, this is unhealthy for everyone around that person because the air coming out of the exhaust ports is not filtered. In fact, certain countries have already banned the use of these masks in public because they do not curb the spread of Covid-19. To protect your friends, family, and community, wear a mask without exhaust ports.
Plan for Multiple Outings
You should wash your mask after every public outing to ensure that it is clean and sanitized for your next use. If you work outside of your home or are frequently in public, then it’s wise to buy a few masks so that you have a few on rotation. To wash a cloth mask, simply use a drop or two of laundry detergent and scrub it under warm tap water and let it air dry. To store a clean mask, you can put it in a clean plastic resealable bag.
What about N95 Surgical Masks?
N95s and other medical-grade masks offer the best protection but should only be used by medical professionals. That’s because medical personnel are at a much higher risk of contracting the coronavirus since they are exposed to sick people every single day. Furthermore, medical-grade masks offer more protection thanneeded for everyday activities. The bottom line is, if you’re not in a hospital or medical center in constant close contact with potentially Covid-positive patients, then you shouldn’t purchase a medical-grade mask.
Masks are Only One Layer of Protection
By wearing a mask away from home, you greatly decrease your odds of contracting the coronavirus. But, wearing a mask is only one barrier of protection. You can help curb the Covid-19 pandemic by maintaining a healthy distance (of at least 6 feet) from others and thoroughly washing your hands before and after being in public.