In light of new evidence regarding COVID-19, the CDC is now recommending citizens wear cloth face coverings, such as face masks (not including surgical masks or N-95 respirators).
This advice is especially true when going out in public to places with higher traffic, like grocery stores or pharmacies, and in areas with higher rates of community-based transmission.
Many people with coronavirus are either a) asymptomatic, meaning they lack symptoms, or b) pre-symptomatic, meaning they may eventually develop symptoms. Because of this, individuals may unknowingly transmit the virus to others in close proximity. Transmission can happen even while merely talking.
That's where face masks come in.
However, improper use of face masks can negate any good they do. Therefore, it's vital to know some important mask safety tips.
Here are three essential things to remember when wearing your mask.
1. Wash Your Hands Before Use and Before Taking It Off
According to the CDC, proper handwashing is one of the most efficient ways to keep yourself and your family members from getting sick.
First and foremost, always practice thorough handwashing—before and after you eat, after taking out the garbage, after grocery shopping or getting the mail, after using the restroom. The CDC has a list of times when handwashing is of utmost importance (but right now, you can't be too safe).
You must also practice proper handwashing before putting the face mask on. Lather your hands with soap and wash them under warm or cold water for at least 20 seconds. Rinse off the soap and then air-dry or towel-dry them with a clean towel.
Then you can put on your mask.
Before taking off your mask, it's also good practice to rewash your hands. This way, you can reuse your mask (if it's not single-use and/or it's not damp). Take off the mask using the ear straps, rather than grabbing the covering.
If you touch it with dirty hands, it could transmit the virus.
2. Ensure the Nose and Mouth Is Covered Well
You don't want gaps between your face and the mask, which can allow germs to flow in and out of the mask through the air easily. If it's loose-fitting, you'll also be more inclined to touch the mask repeatedly to readjust it.
Choose a form-fitting mask that stays firmly planted to your face.
3. Don't Touch Your Face Mask While Wearing It
Having a form-fitting mask is essential because it reduces the number of times you'll try to adjust its positioning.
Once your face mask is comfortably on your face, don't touch it again until you have to take it off. For example, if you're grocery shopping and grabbing food items, moving the grocery cart, etc., and then touch your mask, you could be transmitting the virus to your face mask.
Practice Mask Safety!
If you put a face mask on with unclean hands or touch it with dirty hands while wearing it, it can negate any good the cover may do. It's crucial to keep everything as clean as possible to ensure optimal usage.
At pform, we sell form-fitting, reusable, and washable cloth masks. For every mask sold, we also donate two surgical respirator masks to local hospitals and organizations.
Click here to read more about our mask4mask program, designed to support our tireless healthcare workers!