The CDC has given guidelines recommending that we wear facial masks when we go out in public spaces since we don’t know who has the virus and who doesn’t.
As a former Critical Care and Operating Room Registered Nurse, I am keenly aware of how important it is to put on and take off face masks properly. Here are 7 key points that highlight key dos, don’ts and best practices to ensure our safety:
- Masks do NOT eliminate the need for social distancing. Face masks offer protection against spreading disease from yourself to others in your immediate vicinity but don’t let a face mask give you a false sense of security that causes you can lessen other mitigation efforts. Be sure to continue maintaining a safe 6-foot distance from others whether you are or are not wearing face protection.
- As you prepare to put on a face mask you need to first cleanse your hands. Wash them with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Also make sure your hands are dry before donning face protection. If your mask has pleats, the folds should project downward. Don’t touch the central fabric part of the mask — that’s essentially the germ filter, and you don’t want to spread any pathogens that may be trapped within.
- You’ll want to use the ear loops or ties to secure and remove the mask. Make sure that the mask fits as snugly as possible against your face. The coverage should go from the bridge of your nose to under your chin. Both nose and mouth areas need to be covered.
- Once your mask is on don’t fidget with it! Resist the urge to touch the central or fabric portion of the mask as this is the germ filtering portion, and you don’t want to spread whatever it has trapped
- If you need to take your mask off for short periods, fold it so its outer surface goes inward and against itself or that the inner surfaces fold together. The rationale is to prevent the inner surface of the mask from coming into contact with the outer surface during storage.
- Cloth masks should be washed daily and can either be air or machine dried. Use the warmest water possible and avoid chemicals like bleach or hydrogen peroxide since these chemicals will make a mask less effective by degrading fabric fibers.
- If you have multiple masks, the best strategy is to rotate use of the masks over several days, which gives time for any virus to die as the mask “airs out” since it’s understood that virus can’t survive on fabric for more than several days.
This YouTube video demonstrates the detail of the above recommendations:
Wearing a mask surely takes some getting used to but this socially responsible practice is worth the effort.
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