The most important item to keep available with you at all times at the moment is a face mask, as a result of the pandemic. People began to buy them in bulk and wholesale even before the pandemic was official in the United States, and now more than ten months later, a lot of the medical supplies people were buying at the start of last year are difficult to find for sale even online. These products include face shields, surgical masks, KN95 masks, N95 masks, and others.
But, even when we’ve been living in a pandemic for more than ten months, people are still doing things like resting their face masks on their chin or head when they’re not using it. In this article, we’ll explain why this is a mistake.
Why you shouldn’t rest your mask on your head
This has been one of the most common practices seen in public which are considered a mistake. However, since many people don’t understand why this is wrong, they continue to do it. Resting your mask on your head or on your chin eliminates all their efficacy when you put it back on.
You’ve probably heard a million times that face masks shouldn’t be handled by the inside or outside of the mask to prevent contaminating it. If that were to happen, when you put it back around your mouth and nose, this can lead to inhalation of the pathogenic microorganisms you had on your hands. Instead, they should always be handled by the head straps or ear loops.
Now, imagine putting the mask on your head, which is also exposed to and filled with microorganisms. Remember that, unlike you do with your hands, you don’t constantly wash your head with soap and water or sanitize it every time you’re outside. Resting the face mask on your head will fill it with these microorganisms, and when you put it back on, you might be exposing yourself to pathogens like the coronavirus very easily.
What can you do instead?
We understand that, when we’re out and about on the streets and visiting stores and other types of indoor facilities, you have to keep your mask on. But, sometimes you might have to take it out very quickly to have a sip of water, since dehydration is very common while wearing masks. Maybe you’re going to sit down and eat at a restaurant, or you’re simply taking a break when no one is around you.
A common thing people do in these situations is to rest their masks on their head or their chin, and we’ve already explained why this isn’t the best thing to do. There are some alternatives that can help you store your mask more safely during these brief moments in which you’re not wearing them.
Let’s imagine you’re at a café or a restaurant, and you’re about to start eating. This is the moment in which you would take your mask off. However, with servers coming frequently to talk to you, you might have to put it back on constantly. In these situations, handling the mask too much by storing it and putting it back on can easily contaminate it, so people turn to leaving them on the table or resting them on their heads or chin.
One useful trick is to learn how to wrap your face mask around your wrist like an elastic band. For this, you would have to fold the mask inward so that the inside of the mask (the one in contact with your face) is covered and hidden away, and then wrapping it around your wrist with the help of the head straps or ear loops. This allows your mask to be safe and also very reachable.
Now, if you want to store it in a bag, your purse or pocket might not be the ideal places to do so. These are filled with microorganisms and other types of contaminants. Instead, make a habit of bringing with you a breathable bag, like a paper bag or a mesh bag, where you only store your face mask. This will allow it to dry out while you’re not wearing it. Additionally. Make sure to have a spare one with you at all times.
Which are the main types of masks people are using during the pandemic?
In healthcare settings, the most common types of masks are both N95 masks and surgical masks. N95 respirators are, among the two, considered the best option for virus protection in the medical field since workers there are highly exposed to the virus. These masks can filter out 95% of airborne particles like dust, smoke, and the flu virus or the coronavirus, among other bioaerosols.
Surgical masks, on the other hand, are meant to protect both the wearer and the patients against fluids, which is important during surgical procedures. KN95 masks are also used in the healthcare field, but these are not a type of N95 mask, like many people think, but they do have similar antiviral filtering properties. 3M N95 masks like the 3M 8511, 3M 8210, and 3M 1860, on the other hand, are types of N95 masks.
For the general public, the gold standard for protection in the USA are reusable cloth masks. These offer enough protection for less risky situations, and have been widely available for sale everywhere. You can even make them at home following the resources available online, and can be made in different sizes to fit kids as well.