The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of Americans to start wearing face masks and coverings in order to protect themselves and others from contracting the contagious and sometimes deadly disease. For many Americans, 2020 marked the first time they ever wore a face mask. Even though wearing masks in Asian countries was popular, it never caught in the States until COVID-19. As a result, many people don’t know some simple dos and don’ts of wearing a mask.
Health organizations around the world including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH) have recommended wearing a mask to help stop the spread of COVID-19. However, masks need to be worn properly to be effective at preventing the spread of the disease. Read this list of dos and don’t of wearing a face mask below to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
DO Secure Mask Around Your Ears or Head
Depending on the type of mask you are wearing you will either secure it around your ears or tie it behind your head. Avoid elastic straps that are too lose around your ears and don’t allow straps to hang down. If your ears start to hurt after wearing your mask for extended period of times, there are a few mask extension straps that allow you to secure the straps at the back of your head.
DON’T Wear Your Mask Under Your Nose
When wearing a mask, make sure it covers your nose, mouth, and chin. If you wear your mask under your nose, you still have a high risk of contracting COVID-19 as well as spreading the disease to others. If your mask doesn’t cover you chin, find a bigger mask that provides enough coverage but still fits snuggly onto your face.
DO Wash Your Hands Before Removing Mask
While wearing your mask avoid touching it or moving it. If you do need to adjust it, make sure to wash or sanitize your hands before doing so. Once you have removed your mask, wash and sanitize your hands again. This reduces the chances of germs spreading from your hands to your mask and vice versa.
DON’T Put a Mask on a Baby
To ensure safety, avoid putting a mask on a baby under the age of 2. Those who have trouble breathing due to a chronic medical condition as well as those who are unable to remove a face mask for coronavirus protection without assistance should also avoid wearing a mask.
DO Wash Your Mask After Each Use
If you have a reusable mask, washing your mask after every use or at least one a day is a good way to keep your mask sanitized. If you don’t have the time to wash your mask or wait for it to fully dry, make sure to buy multiple masks you can wear throughout the week. Disposable masks like surgical masks should only be used disposed in the trash after every use.
DON’T Wear a Mask With Valves
You may have seen respirator masks in your local Home Depot with valves in the center or you may have seen new cloth masks with circular valves in one side. These masks might look like they came straight out of a sci-fi movie, but they aren’t ideal for COVID-19 protection and the CDC has warned against using them. While face masks with valves do protect the wearer from COVID-19, they don’t prevent the wearer from transmitting COVID-19 to others.
DO Wear a Mask AND Social Distance
The CDC and WHO both identify wearing masks and social distancing as the best methods for preventing the spread of COVID-19. While wearing mask can go a long way in protecting your from droplets and other contaminated particles, keeping a proper social distance from others is still very important. Stay at least 6 feet apart from others when in public, avoid large crowds, and stay home as much as possible.
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