In areas where it can be difficult to stay 6 feet away from others, such as supermarkets, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that everyone — sick or healthy — wear a cloth face mask. That’s because studies show that even though they do not have symptoms (called asymptomatic) or before they have symptoms (called presymptomatic), people can spread coronavirus. In fact, just before the symptoms begin, you may be the most infectious.
Learn which style is best and how to wear it before you buy or make a mask.
How Face Masks Work
When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks about COVID-19, they send tiny droplets of coronavirus into the air. That is where the mask can help in preventing. A face mask conceals your mouth and nose. When you cough or sneeze, it may block the release of virus-filled droplets into the air. This helps to slow down the COVID-19’s propagation.
Can face masks protect people from the coronavirus?
A cloth face mask won’t block the coronavirus entirely. But when you use it along with routine hand washing and social distancing steps, such as standing 6 feet away from others, it is an extra layer of security for you and the people around you.
However, other types of masks are very helpful in protecting you from those tiny particles from coronavirus.
Types of Face Masks for Coronavirus
Masks for health care workers
Health care staff and first responders should reserve N95 respirators and surgical masks. Since these masks aren’t enough for everyone, it’s crucial that they go to the physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals who need them the most.
l N95 respirator masks fit over your face securely. They filter out 95% of the smallest particles in the air. But in order to function, they have to match just right.
l Surgical masks that are blue and have white edges. They fit over your nose and mouth loosely. These masks protect against the big droplets that come from the cough or sneeze of a sick person but are too loose to protect against all germs. And the smallest particles that can carry the coronavirus can’t be prevented.
Masks for non-healthcare workers
For those who don’t work in health care, cloth masks are the safest. When making your own or searching for handmade masks, here are some tips to bear in mind:
- You can sew the cloth, tie it around your head, or fold it up for ear loops around.
- Use two layers of material, at least.
- For a filter, you could add a pocket. Before you wash the mask, make sure to take it out.
- Attach a ribbon of copper or wire to the mask’s nose to make it fit better.
To buy other kinds of masks:
- Check for dust masks in hardware stores. They look like N95 respirators, but they don’t work similarly as N95.
- Not many particles are filtered out with dust masks.
- The droplets that carry the virus can be prevented by neoprene masks.
- Try using a neck gaiter made of stretchy synthetic fabric — a piece of material wrapped in a loop. If the material is thin, fold it into several layers.
Face Mask Comparisons
Ear loops vs. Tie
A mask that ties behind your head would typically suit your face better than one that wraps over your ears, so you can choose which one is better for you. But in the wash, ties may get mixed up, and some individuals prefer the fit of ear loops. For places like hair salons and barber shops, they’re even safer.
Filter vs. no filter
A set of layers of cloth offers more places for virus particles to stick. In this method, a filter helps. But too many layers may make it difficult to breathe. Use the most comfortable mask so that you are more likely to keep wearing it. Be sure to verify that there is not anything harmful like fiberglass in the filter content.
What face mask filters can I use?
In a homemade mask, some household items can act as a filter layer, including:
- Paper products, such as coffee filters, paper towels, and toilet paper, which you can breathe through, are one option for your filter.
- Studies show that HEPA filters with multiple layers nearly block small particles and N95 respirators. But there could be tiny fibers in them that can get into your lungs. Be sure to put the filter material between layers of cotton or other woven fabric if you cut up a filter to use in a mask. Do not use any fiberglass-containing filter.
- You can also cut up a shopping bag of polypropylene and insert the material between your mask’s layers. It is washable, but in order to last longer, it should be air-dried.
A face mask is vital on this pandemic and choosing which one best suits you is essential. Moreover, handmade masks should have a filter to ensure that you are well protected. If you are a healthcare professional, make sure you are using an N95 mask to protect yourself from COVID patients. To buy for an N95 mask, click here.
Louie is the father behind the travel blog Browseeverywhere.com. He has a background in photography, E-commerce, and writing product reviews online at ConsumerReviews24. Traveling full time with his family was his ultimate past-time. If he’s not typing at his laptop, you can probably find him watching movies.