COVID-19 cases are still rising all over the world. Countries have implemented curfews, quarantines, lockdowns, and several other restrictions to help slow down the spread of COVID-19. Another way to prevent disease transmission is to use a face mask.
Why use a face mask
The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly spread from one person to another through respiratory droplets. These droplets travel in the air when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. These droplets may be inhaled or land in the nose or mouth of close contacts.
Wearing a cloth, surgical or N95 mask helps prevent harmful droplets from infecting others should you be infected with the virus. Studies show that N95 masks and other types of face masks reduce droplet spray when worn properly over the mouth and nose.
When to use a face mask
You have to use a surgical or N95 mask even if you have no symptoms and feel fine. People with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms and those who are still pre-symptomatic can still infect other people. Wearing your N95 mask protects those around you.
It is even more important to use a cloth, surgical, or N95 mask when you are in crowded or poorly ventilated places with people you do not live with. Moreover, you should keep your mask on when social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart) is difficult.
Cloth mask for the general public
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the public to use cloth masks instead of surgical or N95 masks. Cloth masks offer protection against COVID-19 and effectively stops the spread of the virus when other safety measures are also implemented.
CDC is presently studying different factors that determine the level of protection a cloth mask provides. These include the type of fabric used, number of layers, and overall fit of the mask.
Prevent virus transmission with an N95 mask
An N95 mask is a type of respirator worn over a user’s mouth and nose to protect from airborne particles. It reduces the risk of inhaling particles, dust, fumes, and vapors. The N95 mask, including the ones for healthcare use, are certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
How the 3M N95 mask filtrates air
3M is a leading manufacturer of N95 masks and is proud to produce their masks in the United States. When buying an N95 mask, check out the 3M line and you will surely see a wide array of mask models and sizes that suit your needs.
A 3M N95 mask removes airborne particles that are inhaled through it. It has an impressive 95 percent filtration efficiency and blocks very small particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter. The N95 mask can trap all kinds of particles, including viruses and bacteria.
Differences between the N95 mask and surgical mask
A surgical mask has a loose fit with edges that do not create a seal over the mouth and nose. The mask serves as a barrier between the wearer’s nose and mouth and potential contaminants in the environment.
An N95 mask is designed to provide a close facial fit by creating a seal around the user’s mouth and nose. It efficiently filters out airborne particles provided that the wearer passes a fit test.
What to remember when using an N95 mask
- A fit test should be done before using an N95 mask to ensure adequate protection. If your N95 mask does not have a close facial fit, adjust the mask or the nose clip and straps. If there are still air leaks after making the necessary adjustments, use a different size or model.
- Do not reuse your N95 mask as it is a disposable device. CDC only recommends the reuse of N95 masks when authorized decontamination equipment is available.
- Do not use a damaged or soiled N95 mask as its filtering efficiency may be affected.
- Those with lung or heart ailments should see their doctors before using an N95 mask. Ask your doctor if you are safe to use an N95 mask or you should use a mask with better breathability.
What to remember before handling an N95 mask
If you are deemed safe to use an N95 mask, take note of these tips before handling your mask.
- Wash your hands properly before touching the N95 mask.
- If you have worn an N95 mask before, use the same size and model.
- Inspect the N95 mask for any damages. Do not use a damaged or soiled N95 mask.
- Don’t let facial hair, glasses, or jewelry prevent the correct placement of the N95 mask.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to wear the N95 mask.
Putting on an N95 mask
- Put the N95 mask in your hands with the nose piece on your fingertips.
- Cup the N95 mask and let the headbands hang below your hand. Hold the N95 mask under your chin.
- Lift the top strap of the N95 mask and place it at the back of your head. Position the bottom strap below the ears.
- Put your fingertips on the nose clip and slide them down to mold the mask to the shape of your nose.
- Check if the N95 mask is sealed tightly to your face.
- If you feel any air leakage when taking a quick breath, adjust the nose clip or straps accordingly.
- If you still cannot achieve a seal, look for a different N95 mask model or a different size.
Buying an N95 mask does not instantly assure you of protection from COVID-19. You need to know how to wear it properly as well as pass a fit test. It may not be as straightforward as using a cloth or surgical mask, but the protection your N95 mask gives is definitely worth the effort.