Ok, so in the midst of all that's been happening lately you might be asking yourself:
Should I be wearing a mask?
So let's deal with that question straight away.
Should I wear a mask?
- If you are caring for someone who is sick or has been infected with the coronavirus or any other respiratory disease, then yes you should.
- If you are coughing or sneezing, then yes you should.
- If you have coronavirus, then yes you should.
For everybody else... the CDC (Center for disease control) says no you shouldn't.
A bit about masks
Everybody is trying to get their hands on a face mask because they are typically used to control/prevent infections that affect the lungs. It's simple, they act as a filter which prevents tiny particles and organisms from getting through.
Now face masks are not promising you 100% protection - they are definitely not like a knights armour (even that has holes in it 😂), but they have been shown to reduce risk by up to 90%.
The back door
Face masks are great but don't forget that your nose isn't the only way a virus can enter your body. Not to get too medical but there are areas called mucous membranes that can also act as points of entry - your mouth nose and eyes are all points of entry.
Another interesting point is that people actually feel super safe when they are wearing a mask and this can lead them to not be as careful as they should. Always take basic precautions no matter what:
- Wash your hands
- Use hand sanitizer if you have access
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if your hands are unwashed
- Avoid close contact with people
- Stay at home if you can
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
How to put on and remove a face mask correctly
- Very important - Before you put on a face mask make sure you wash your hands with soap and water for about 20 seconds or sing the happy birthday song twice than use alcohol-based hand sanitisers afterwards.
- Remove a mask from the box or packaging and inspect it first to make sure there are no tears or holes in the mask.
- Read the manufacturers instructions properly so you know which side of the mask is the top side and which is the back. The side with a stiff bendable edge is the top which allows the mask to mould to the shape of your nose. The coloured side of the mask is usually the front and should face away from you, while the white side touches your face.
See below, here are some more instruction to guide you based on the type of mask you have.
Face Masks with Earloops
- Put it on: Hold the mask by the ear loops. Place a loop around each ear and make sure you don't touch the front of the mask.
- Take it off: Hold both of the ear loops and gently lift and remove the mask.
Face Masks with Ties
- Put it on: Bring the mask to your nose level and place the ties over the crown of your head and secure with a bow.
- Take it off: Untie the bottom bow first then untie the top bow and pull the mask away from you as the ties are loosened.
Face Mask with Bands
- Put it on: Hold the mask in your hand with the nosepiece or top of the mask at fingertips, allowing the headbands to hang freely below hands. Bring the mask to your nose level and pull the top strap over your head so that it rests over the crown of your head. Pull the bottom strap over your head so that it rests at the nape of your neck.
- Take it off: Lift the bottom strap over your head first then pull the top strap over your head.
Throw the mask in the bin. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
A final word before we go
- When wearing a face mask, avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands immediately with soap and water and use an alcohol-based hand rub or sanitizer.
- Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp or gets moist and do not re-use single-use masks.
- When you remove a mask, always remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; again clean your hands with soap and water and apply alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Also, make sure you disinfect the surface you work on to reduce the risk of contamination.
Please remember, if you have been in close contact with someone who is infected, or if you show any symptoms of COVID-19, wearing a mask can help to avoid spreading the virus to others. Masks are crucial for your safety and the safety of others when used properly, they can prevent infections transmitted by respiratory droplets. People should wear a surgical mask when they have a respiratory infection; when taking care of a patient with respiratory infection; or when visiting clinics or hospitals during pandemic or peak season for influenza in order to reduce the spread of infection.