As masking guidance has evolved over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are faced with more choices than ever. Terms like PPE have become commonplace, and clothing retailers are selling cloth masks as the newest fashion accessory. The recent mandate requiring Kentucky residents to wear a mask or face-covering in public spaces is raising new questions. Are all masks created equal? Am I wearing my mask correctly? How do I care for my mask?
Whether you’re choosing a mask to purchase, or simply ensuring you’re wearing your current mask efficiently, here are six things you need to know about wearing a face mask correctly.
1. When should I wear a mask?
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb recently announced mandates that require everyone to wear masks in Kentucky’s and Indiana’s public spaces, respectively. Masks are mandatory in places like retail stores, restaurants, gyms, government buildings, and any outdoor spaces where people are unable to stay 6 feet apart.
2. Are all face masks the same?
They are not; N95 respirators and surgical masks, as advised by the CDC, should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders. Instead, opt for a cloth face-covering in public settings.
3. How about the colorful, homemade ones?
Homemade masks or masks purchased from your favorite store are great options! Ensure you have sufficient material to cover your nose and mouth, and that the mask fits snugly. It should also be secured with ties, elastic or loops, and allows you to breathe without severe and sudden difficulty breathing.
4. How does a mask protect me?
Wearing a cloth face covering or mask protects you and other people around you. By wearing protection over your mouth and nose, the mask will catch respiratory droplets and prevent them from landing on surfaces, traveling through the air, or onto other people near you. In turn, if you’re wearing a mask and someone were to sneeze or cough, their respiratory droplets would be prevented from entering your airway because they hit your mask instead. This reduces the risk of transmission.
5. How do I care for my mask?
Wash hands before and after putting on a face mask. It is very important that you do not touch the front of your mask. If you do forget and touch the front of your mask, make sure you wash your hands right away. While removing your mask, you should also be sure to only handle it by the ear loops or ties.
6. Should children wear masks?
The CDC recommends that everyone 2 years and older wear a cloth face covering that covers their nose and mouth when they are out in the community. Because of the danger of suffocation, do NOT put cloth face coverings on babies or children younger than 2 years. Cloth face coverings should also not be worn by anyone who has severe or sudden difficulty breathing, is unconscious, can’t move, or is otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
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