How to Make and Correctly Use a Face Mask

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Face masks are simple loose-fitting masks that cover the nose and mouth, and have ear loops or ties or bands at the back of the head. This protective is usually worn to help reduce the spread of germs. The question about the proper face mask to use during this pandemic (Covid-19) has always been in the mind of so many.

Different types of mask offer different levels of protection. Surgical grade N95 respirators offer the highest level of protection against Covid-19 infection, followed by surgical grade masks. However, these masks are costly and in limited supply which is why many countries has resorted to their locally made cloth face coverings as an additional step to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with every day preventive actions and social distancing in public settings.

When and Who Should Wear a Face Mask?

At present, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t recommend that the general public wear surgical masks or N95 respirators to protect from respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. Healthcare providers and first responders need these supplies, and there’s currently a shortage of them.

The World Health Organization (WHO) although recommends using surgical masks only if you:

  • have a fever, cough, or other respiratory symptoms
  • are well but caring for someone with a respiratory illness — in this case, wear a mask when you’re within 6 feet or closer to the person who is ill

However, in the case of COVID-19, the CDC does advise the general public to wear cloth face coverings to prevent the spread of the disease. The CDC also provides instructions on how to make your own which i have displayed the images below;

How to Make a Cloth Face Mask at Home

As i have mentioned earlier, CDC officially advised the general public to wear cloth face mask coverings if necessary since the surgical masks and N95 respirators are expensive and low in supply. Below are pictorial guide as provided by the CDC on how to make your own cloth face mask at home;

how to make a cloth face mask
Source: CDC
how to make face mask from tshirt
Source: CDC
how to make face mask with bandana
Source: CDC

How to Correctly Wear a Face Mask

It does not matter the face masks you have because they do next to nothing if you don’t wear them properly. Most mask manufacturers usually provide product instructions on use and storage of the mask, and procedures for how to put on and remove the mask. If instructions for putting on and removing the mask are not available or you made yours at home following any of the methods as outlined above, then follow the steps below;

Putting on a Face Mask:

  • To put on a face mask, ensure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or rub your hands together thoroughly with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Check the face mask for defects such as tears or broken loops.
  • Ensure that you position the colored side of the mask outward.
  • If present, make sure the metallic strip is at the top of the mask and positioned against the bridge of your nose.
  • Depending on the type of face mask:
    Ear loops: Hold the mask by both ear loops and place one loop over each ear.
    Ties: Hold the mask by the upper strings. Tie the upper strings in a secure bow near    the crown of your head. Tie the bottom strings securely in a bow near the nape of your neck.
    Dual elastic bands: Pull the top band over your head and position it against the crown of your head. Pull the bottom band over your head and position it against the nape of your neck.
  • Mold the bendable metallic upper strip to the shape of your nose by pinching and pressing down on it with your fingers.
  • Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin. Be sure the mask fits properly.
  • Don’t touch the mask once in position.

Removing a Face Mask:

  • Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
  • Avoid touching the front of the mask as it might already be contaminated.
  • Follow the instructions below for the type of mask you are using.
    Face Mask with Ear loops: Hold both of the ear loops and gently lift and remove the mask.
    Face Mask with Ties: Untie the bottom bow first then untie the top bow and pull the mask away from you as the ties are loosened.
    Face Mask with Bands: Lift the bottom strap over your head first then pull the top strap over your head.
  • Once you have successfully removed the face mask, trash it and clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.

Key Points:

  • Face masks are simple loose-fitting masks that cover the nose and mouth, and have ear loops or ties or bands at the back of the head.
  • Different types of mask offer different levels of protection.
  • Surgical grade N95 respirators offer the highest level of protection against Covid-19 infection
  • Wear surgical masks only if you: have a fever, cough, or other respiratory symptoms,
  • Wear surgical masks only if you are well but caring for someone with a respiratory illness — in this case, wear a mask when you’re within 6 feet or closer to the person who is ill
  • It does not matter the face masks you have because they do next to nothing if you don’t wear them properly.

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