4 Ways to Make Masking Safe and Easy
With face mask wearing becoming a norm in many countries, proper care for face masks is key as we protect ourselves and others from further spread of the virus causing COVID-19. It is important to note that face masks are not surgical masks or N95 respirators. Those should be reserved for first responders who are on the front line of the battle against Coronavirus.
Reports indicate that the virus can survive up to four hours on copper and 24 hours on cardboard. It can also survive up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. This means top hygiene measures must be taken to avoid transfer of the virus from these surfaces to our bodies.
How to Safely Put On A Face Mask
Find a way to make wearing a mask as comfortable as you can. It can be annoying, especially for people who wear glasses with the lenses getting steamed up. Make sure the mask is the right fit and can comfortably cover your nose, mouth and chin. Check the mask for any holes or tears.
- Clean your face well with soap and water.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- When you have dried your hands, place the mask over your nose and mouth and secure with loops. Your mask should not leave gaps around your face. With most masks, the colored side is the front.
- Pinch the metal strip of the masks to bend with the shape of your nose
- Wash your hands again.
When the mask is securely in place, avoid touching your face or adjusting the mask. Remember, the outside of the mask could be contaminated and touching it could expose you to the virus. Only remove the mask when necessary, like when you need to eat or you are back home. When you do so, remove it safely and dispose of it in an appropriate manner. Do not re-use disposable face masks. Washable face masks should be stored in a breathable paper or laundry bag and isolated until the masks are washed.
How to Safely Remove The Mask
- Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
- Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the loops. If you have two pairs of head straps, start with the bottom ones
- If your mask has filters, remove them and discard them. If they are washable, store or wash them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- If the mask is disposable, wrap it in a tissue and discard it in a lidded bin
- If the mask is washable, fold it and put in the laundry
- Repeat the hygiene routine of washing your face and hands
How To Safely Clean Your Mask
Currently there are two kinds of masks - disposable and fabric. Disposable, blue surgical masks cannot be laundered and should be thrown away when soiled.
- Masks made of fabric can be washed in regular laundry at 60 degrees Celsius/140 degrees Fahrenheit. After laundering your fabric masks, tumble dry them in the dryer on a high setting.
- If you are sensitive to perfumes, use an unscented laundry detergent as you’ll come into very close contact with the mask for extended lengths of time.
- You can also hand wash your mask using hot, soapy water. Scrub the mask for at least 20 seconds and dry them on high heat in the dryer.
- Have at least two masks so you can still stay protected while one is in the wash.
- Dry the mask completely before using it again.
How to Safely Store Your Mask
- Carefully fold the mask in half, so the contaminated outside is folded inward and against itself.
- Place in a new paper bag, and perform hand hygiene.
- You can also place it in an area with good ventilation to allow it to air out.
- NEVER share face masks.
Since we can't live in isolation forever, we need to do what we can to protect ourselves and others while we get on with life. In the age of Coronavirus, masks make life do-able. By keeping these points in mind we'll all be doing our part to stop the virus and still enjoy life.