N95 respirator face masks are some of the most powerful forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) that people are using to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus.
But in order to reap their full benefits and make sure you’re staying safe, you have to learn how to wear an N95 mask correctly. This way, your mask will be able to protect you from poor air quality levels, bacteria in the air, and acutely-released particles that could contain the coronavirus.
For this reason, many people from everyday service industry employees to medical personnel are turning to N95 masks for protection against COVID-19.
N95 respirator face masks are some of the most effective, comfortable, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive ways to protect yourself from viral/harmful particles and guarantee yourself clean breathing air.
The secret to using your respirator correctly lies in putting it on correctly and performing a variety of seal tests to make sure air does not come in or out of your mask, except through the air filtering mechanism.
How do we put our respirator on correctly and perform a seal check?
How to Correctly Put On Your Respirator
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Position your respirator in your hands with the nose piece at your fingertips.
- Cup the mask in your hand and place it over your mouth and nose. Your mask should be in the palm of your hand with the straps facing the floor. Once you get it over your nose and mouth, the nosepiece should be fitting just over the bridge of your nose while the bottom should be reaching just below your chin.
- The top strap goes over and rests at the top (and back) of your head. The bottom strap has to be placed around the neck and just below the ears. Do not crisscross your face mask straps.
- Place your fingertips on the top of the metal nose clip (if there is one.) Slide your fingertips down both sides of the metal strip to mold the nose area into your nose shape.
How to Perform a Seal Check
(and make sure air is not coming out of your respirator)
Checking your N95’s seal means breathing through the masks and testing it for leaks. To do this, set both hands against the mask and take a breath so you can find out if your seal is tight around your face. When you exhale, be aware of any leakage from around the edges of the N95 and its nosepiece. If you feel air leaking from your nosepiece area, re-mold it. If you feel leakage from the edges of your mask, adjust the placement of your straps on both sides of the head.
- Place both hands over the respirator, then take a breath, and check whether it is sealed tightly around your face.
- Place both hands firmly over the respirator, then exhale. If you feel leakage, you do not have a proper seal.
- If air leaks around your nose, readjust your nosepiece as noted above. If air leaks around the edges of your mask, readjust the traps until you get a proper seal.
- If you cannot achieve a proper seal, try a different size/model or ask for help.
How to Remove your Respirator Safely
- Do not touch the front of your respirator.
- Remove your respirator by pulling the bottom strap over the back of your head, followed by the top strap.
- Discard your respirator in a container and wash your hands thoroughly.
How important is fit testing and making sure no oxygen escapes your respirator?
Fit testing is one of the most critical components to any respiratory protection program. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires a primary fit test in order to identify the right style, model, and size respirator for each person.
Additionally, tight-fitting respirators, such as the N95, require a user to individually perform a seal check every time a mask is put on.
This is because the N95 respirator has to be tight-fitting around the face in order to work correctly. Since its purpose is to filter air coming in, any additional air coming in from the sides of the mask is detrimental to the effectiveness of the N95.
For this reason, N95 requires a medical evaluation before it can be used – sometimes, it can make breathing difficult. Some underlying conditions such as lung disease or heart conditions could prevent respirator use. In the U.S., medical evaluations are required once before the initial fit testing and use, but they may be done again and again if any negative symptoms are observed.
Powered air-purifying respirators are a possible alternative for people who are medically disqualified from the usage of N95 or similar grade respirators.
Where to buy N95 respirators and face masks?
If you’re looking to buy N-95 respirator face masks:
Browse Clinical Supplies USA’s collection of N95 respirators in our store here.
If you’re looking to purchase wholesale face masks for sale/distribution to your local community:
Reach out to us and inquire for any purchase above 2,000 units here.