While researchers continue their research about the life-threatening virus- COVID-19, it is essential to maintain some safety measures. Social distancing, wearing masks, using a hand sanitizer with approximately 60% alcohol, and washing hands are few of the many until a vaccine arrives. One of the most effective ways of maintaining safety and preventing the spread of the virus is wearing a safety mask.
Why are Face Masks Important?
As we learn about the pandemic, one of the most common ways to prevent the spread is to avoid person-to-person contact. The precautionary measure comes to use when an infected person coughs, talks, or sneezes- they produce respiratory droplets that travel as far as six feet. These infection particles can land in the noses and mouths of nearby people.
COVID-19 also can be transmitted from people who don’t have any symptoms of the virus. Because of this, health professionals suggest wearing cloth coverings to slow the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization recommends medical coverings especially for people who have COVID-19 or are healthcare workers. They also recommend the same for people who have higher risks of contracting the infection. These are for people in their 60s and older and others with significant health problems.
When to Wear a Face Mask?
With masks obtaining the reputation of being a life-saver- people are all thumbs up for their usage. These have become a straightforward adjustment to their daily lives. People readily wear it when going out into crowded places, visiting friends, or doing groceries. Putting on a mask has become the new normal.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing a mask, especially when social distancing isn’t possible. These can be public transport, shops, or some working conditions like cashiers and social workers. The fact holds the best for the medically ill or elderly since physical distancing isn’t possible in those circumstances. Medical masks are a critical source for healthcare workers and others that need the most; WHO suggests reserving the face coverings for healthcare and at-risk individuals.
What are the different types of face masks?
WHO, CDC, and other public health officials recommend wearing face coverings for controlling the spread of coronavirus. People are now wearing different types of face coverings. Some of the most common face coverings include hand-sewn, bandanas, surgical masks, transparent masks, respirators like FFP2, N95, etc. The face-covering choice dramatically depends upon their availability and the purpose they seek to serve. However, the experts are all pros for the four main types. These are:
- Surgical masks:
Surgical ones are a form of PPE (personal protective equipment), which fits the wearer loosely over the mouth and face. The face coverings belong to these categories that shield sneeze droplets, sprays, splashes, and large cough droplets. According to research in 2013, these bestowed the capabilities of filtering out 60% of particles. Studies also show that these face coverings reduce the spread of respiratory infections significantly. However, the biggest con lies with the fact that these aren’t washable and are designed for single use. Thus, it would be best if you disposed of it after wearing it once.
- Clear masks:
Since face coverings have become part and parcel of our daily lives- not one size fits all. New mask designs unveil now and then. However, quite early on in the pandemic, it became clear that people with hearing abilities find the new normal disadvantageous. These people rely upon lip-reading as a source of effective communication. The cons of former face-coverings gave birth to fully visible clear masks, which came as a blessing to people. The clear covers are washable and provide full-face visibility. These have fabric materials at the top and bottom of the covering, and are made of a double layer of preshrunk 100% cotton. The middle part of the covering is a polypropylene filter layer.
- Cloth Face Coverings:
The CDC has created a video for guiding the maxims of creating a cloth face covering. You can make these by using various items and fabrics like scarves, pillowcases, T-shirts, and bandanas. However, a woven cotton fabric seems like the most suitable material. Studies suggest combining materials like cotton, flannel, silk, chiffon, and other synthetics as the most effective choice.
- N95 Masks:
It is a respirator-type that offers more protection than the medical one. The N95 works well with both the large and small particles. The CDC exclaims on using these only by the health care workers– owing to their short supply. Like the surgical masks, N95 shouldn’t be used more than once, and disposing of them should always be the case. However, researchers are testing ways for disinfecting and reusing them. Some N95 ones also come with valves to breathe through easily.
How to Wear a One Safely?
Wearing one may seem like an easy thing to do. Yet, health professionals recognize some common mistakes people make while wearing them. Some general considerations they advise people with are:
- Ensure that the face-covering doesn’t cause difficulty in breathing
- Check that the one covers your mouth and nose.
- Ensure the person can tighten up the covering from preventing it from slipping
- It fits snugly, and there are no gaps.
- It is easy to wash after every use.
The WHO suggests not touching your mask while using it. Also, while removing a face-covering, you should handle it from behind. Health professionals say so to avoid touching the same from the front.
Will a face-covering stop me from contracting the virus?
The likeliness of coming in contact with the new virus remains. The face-covering is a precautionary measure, and the primary purpose rests with stopping the spread of coronavirus. Wearing the mask helps maintain both the parties’ health and safety- the infected and the non-infected up to some extent.
Health professionals worldwide are all thumbs up for face coverings as these help in the prevention of novel coronavirus. However, the effectiveness of these can vary. These are sure to protect when a person is near others for extended periods. Besides face coverings, everyone must ensure the following key recommendations. The primary ones include regular washing of hands and keeping social distancing whenever possible.