Featured June 9, 2020

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Mistakes You’re Probably Making with Face Masks

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The bottom line: A face mask is not effective if you’re not using it correctly.

Ariana News Agency- 

Simply wearing a mask isn’t enough

It’s now recommended that Canadians wear face masks in public, especially when it’s difficult to maintain the recommended two metres of social distance. Since there’s a shortage of medical-grade masks, people are making their own DIY face masks from cloth to comply and to stay safe—but masks only work when worn and cared for correctly. Don’t make these mistakes.

Putting it on and taking it off incorrectly


If you remember nothing else, remember to wash your hands first so you’re not inadvertently transferring virus particles to your mask and face. National Jewish Health recommends scrubbing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds immediately before and after putting on a mask, and again immediately before and after removing it. “The main message is hand hygiene,” says Ann Marie Pettis, RN, the president-elect of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). “You can’t overdo it.” Just be sure to moisturize frequently so your skin doesn’t develop small abrasions that could invite infection, she adds. (Make sure you avoid these common hand washing mistakes.)

After you’ve washed, handle the mask only by the ear loops or ties. Secure one end first, and then stretch it over your mouth and nose. If you wear glasses, put those on last. When taking off the mask, remove it from behind, taking care again to use the ear loops instead of touching the fabric. If your mask has ties, undo the bottom one first, then the top one, according to recommendations from the University of Utah Health. Finally, pull the mask away from your face and then down.


Wearing it the wrong way


If your mask has pleats, the pleats should face the outside, and the folded edge of the pleats should be on the bottom. Plus, the mask should fit snugly, covering your nose and mouth completely without gaps but still allowing you to breathe naturally, according to the CDC. The sides of the mask should extend at least an inch past each corner of your mouth, and the bottom should wrap under your chin, which serves as an anchor, notes Consumer Reports. Men may have to trim their beards to ensure a good fit.

Taking it off too early


Likewise, removing your mask when you get in your car might be too soon. Dr. Haddock recommends waiting until you’re home where you can remove it properly and wash your hands right away. If you must remove it sooner, don’t just toss it on the passenger seat; place it in a bag and use hand sanitizer before you touch anything else. You can probably wear the same mask the whole time you’re out, for up to 12 hours, Pettis says, as long as it hasn’t become moist from your breath. “As soon as any mask becomes moist, it’s no longer effective and needs to be changed.”

Storing it wrong


Even if you’re letting your mask dry out between infrequent wearings, don’t just hang it on a hook next to your jacket and grab it the next time you head out. Between washings, it’s best to store it in a clean, dry paper bag so its surface remains free from any germs that might be present in your home. Avoid using plastic bags for this purpose, though, as they can encourage germ growth. “Put it in a paper bag and let it sit for a few days before you wear it again, or launder it,” Pettis says.

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