Avoid These Common Mistakes
When someone talks, coughs or sneezes, they can release tiny droplets into the air. The particles of a sneeze, for example, can reach up to six feet. And, since the virus that causes COVID-19 commonly attacks the lungs, it can be attached to those tiny droplets. If another person touches or breathes them, they can become infected.
Maintaining physical distance, proper hand hygiene and avoiding touching your face are all important ways to help avoid the spread of infection. Wearing a face mask is also an important strategy in some situations. A face mask can help limit the spread of germs, which then protects others from becoming sick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends wearing a mask in public where physical distancing measures may be difficult to maintain. Exceptions include children under age 2, and anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove the mask without assistance. You should also wear a mask if you are taking care of a person who has COVID-19, or if you are sneezing or coughing.
But, not all face masks are created equal. Cloth face coverings are not the same as surgical masks or N-95 respirators. The most common types of protection available include:
- N-95 respirators. This offers more protection than a surgical mask because it is a type of respirator. They get their name from the fact that they filter out 95% of aerosols. But, these masks are intended to fit with a proper seal.
- Surgical masks. Also known as a medical mask, these filter out large particles in the air.
- Cloth masks. Typically hand-sewn, these are created with fabric and may be easier to find. Cloth masks should be made with multiple layers of fabric and should fit securely around your face, completely covering your nose and mouth. A wire, for example, could help keep it securely in place.
Regardless of the mask you choose, you must wear it properly to achieve protection. It is imperative to keep the mask on securely over both your nose and mouth. The bridge of your nose should be covered at all times. This helps keep particles from exiting and entering your mask.
Each individual in your home should own their own mask. If your masks are reusable, remember to clean and store them safely.
No matter what type of mask you wear, be sure to take the proper precautions when putting it on and taking it off. This is as much a protective measure as wearing the mask. For example, you should never touch the outside of the mask.