Staying Safe - which face mask will give me the best protection?
Eight months after Coronavirus' first wave and she is still not done with us. Sadly, she has a tight grasp everywhere and is predicted to be even worse this winter.
We are all done and tired with this new normal filled with work and school from home, 6ft social distancing rules, and hours of mask wearing. We all long to return to life as it was, hug family and friends again, and visit the theatre, the museum, the sports arena. It is so difficult on all of us, but we must stay strong, diligent, and extra caring & respectful for one more push, at least for a few more months. The vaccine is being successfully studied and developed and it will most likely be available to the general public around March/April 2021, but until then we must make sure everyone stays safe and we must stop Coronavirus from invading further.
So, how can we do this? The best way, obviously, is to stay home, have your needs delivered, and hunker down for quality time with the family. Of course, that isn’t possible for everyone and many of us find it necessary to leave the house for work and essentials. In this case, we know to stay 6ft away from others and sanitize our hands often, but with so many different types of masks out there, which ones are the best and which type should we wear to remain the most protected, for us and all those around us?
It has been proven that masks with two or more layers are the most effective at reducing the spread of Coronavirus by preventing respiratory droplets from traveling through the air or entering our airway.
Let’s examine our options from best to worst:
1. N95 masks - This type of mask offers the best level of protection creating a static barrier for germs in and out.
2. Surgical masks - This mask protects the wearer and those around from germ exposure in the air.
3. Procedure masks - Prevents the wearer from spreading germs into the air.
4. Cloth masks - This mask protects others from the wearer’s breath droplets.
There are masks of every color, style, and graphic decoration, so pick your favorite and wear them properly and proudly. Let’s all stay as safe as possible. Keep in mind the more layers, the more protection but also the more difficult it will be to breathe. Typically, 3 layers should suffice.
Check out this great graphic about the different masks and their purpose from peacehealth.org.
Photo Credit: https://www.peacehealth.org
The other masks should only be worn if you don’t have any other choices since they are ineffective in preventing respiratory droplets from spreading. These are the masks with valves, bandanas, and neck-gators. These are not highly recommended since they do not protect others from your droplets and do not efficiently protect you either.
When choosing your mask, it is best to wear the N95 masks, however, mostly unavailable, the next best choices are the double or triple layered surgical masks, procedure masks, and finally the cloth masks with a filter insert.
Of course, how we wear the mask is just as important as which mask we select. At all times, when around others, your mask should be snug around your mouth and nose. Both must be covered at all times to be effective in its protection from COVID for you and those around you. Cloth masks should be cleaned after use with their filters changed regularly, while procedure, surgical and N95 masks are to be worn once then disposed of. Lastly, when taking them off, refrain from touching the material in front of your mouth; rather, reach for the ear loops and sanitize your hands immediately.
LET'S SAVE LIVES:
Wear your mask - wear it properly!
Wash your hands and sanitize often!