Mask Use is one of the best safety measures we have, right behind proper hand hygiene and Social Distancing. There’s study, after study, after study, that show how much of a difference a mask can make in the spread of the virus.
But not every mask is the same. What type should you be using? That depends. Let’s begin with some of the Do’s and Don’t of Face Masks as provided by Health Canada.
Non-medical face masks or face coverings should:
- allow for easy breathing
- fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
- maintain their shape after washing and drying
- be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
- be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment
- be made of at least 2 layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen)
- be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping
Some masks also include a pocket to accommodate a paper towel or disposable coffee filter, for increased benefit.
Non-medical masks or face coverings should:
- not be shared with others
- not impair vision or interfere with tasks
- not be placed on children under the age of 2 years
- not be made of plastic or other non-breathable materials
- not be secured with tape or other inappropriate materials
- not be made exclusively of materials that easily fall apart, such as tissues
- not be placed on anyone unable to remove them without assistance or anyone who has trouble breathing
Everyone else should have no trouble wearing a mask. Doctors use them every day, mascots wear them in all kinds of conditions, people in Asia have been wearing them for years. The one issue you might have is trouble finding the correct mask for YOU!
There are a variety of types of mask, but the biggest issue seems to be the size of the mask, the tightness of the straps or elastics, and the pull on the ears. So be sure to get one that fits your face appropriately; in that it doesn’t come lose around the face, nor does it squeeze so tight as to be uncomfortable after short use. And if your ears hurt from use consider a holder which takes the straps off the ear; they can be purchased or made.
You might also have trouble wearing it properly, it should cover your mouth and nose the entire time you are wearing it, and you should not touch the mask with your hands at all, only the straps. Once again I will refer you to instructions from Health Canada.
In the end, staying home is the safest thing, but if you practice physical distancing, proper hand hygiene, and wear a mask properly, that’s as safe as you can be when you head out of the home.