Face Masks: How to Wear Them, and 10 Things to Know

CDC, face mask, 10 things to know, COVID-19

With stay-at-home orders easing in some places, it can be difficult to discern the level of contact you should have with others. The CDC recommends that even in states where restrictions are easing, the general rule of thumb should be to keep six feet distance between you and others, and to wear a face mask.

Now that it is summertime, it can be uncomfortable to wear a mask, but know that it is essential to wear a mask to protect yourself and others. Even if you are not sick, other people around you could be infected and not have symptoms yet. 

Don’t worry about how your mask looks, just wear one when around other people. Masks help prevent the spread of the virus by containing respiratory droplets from others’ mouths and noses. The virus spreads more readily when people are close to one another, in indoor settings, especially while laughing and talking together. 

There are things to know when wearing masks to make sure that you are fully protected. Here are the top 10 things you should know. 

10 things to know about wearing a face mask

  1. Make sure the mask fits securely and that there are no openings. Be sure that the mask covers your mouth and nose. According to the CDC, the mask should fit “snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.”
  2. Don’t touch or pull on your mask. Find one that is comfortable and that you don’t need to adjust.
  3. Children under the age of two should not wear a mask. In addition, the CDC recommends that no one who “has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance” should wear a mask. 
  4. If a person has COVID-19, they should wear a mask whenever they are around others, even at home. 
  5. When putting on or taking off a mask, only touch the ear loops and not the mask itself to avoid contamination.
  6. Always keep the clean side of the mask facing in. For medical masks, the blue part should be facing outward.
  7. To avoid your glasses fogging, cross the ear loops first and then slide the loops around your ears. 
  8. When not using your mask, don’t pull it down around your chin. Doing so will risk infection. Take it off by holding the ear loops. 
  9. If you use a cloth mask, clean it with hot water in the washing machine. If you are using a disposable mask, change it out frequently or when it becomes soiled. Here are the CDC’s guidelines for washing your face mask. 
  10. For your own safety, make sure that you can still breathe and speak while wearing your mask. 

What about gloves? Gloves actually do not help as much as people think, and can discourage frequent hand washing. The best thing to do is to wash hands and use hand sanitizer frequently.

Where to buy face masks

There are several options for purchasing masks, from disposable surgical masks from Walmart, Walgreens, or Amazon to cloth masks from Etsy, Target, or local sellers. While cloth masks are not 100 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, they are still helpful in shielding coughs and sneezes and encouraging people not to touch their faces. 

The takeaway

Think of wearing a mask as a common courtesy to others, a selfless act that will help others feel safe and keep everyone protected. 

“There are no guarantees. The virus is not gone. Healthy people in their 20s and 30s have gotten sick. If you wear a mask, you might be saving someone’s life. You might be saving someone you love,” said Natascha Tuznik, assistant clinical professor of infectious diseases at The University of California, Davis. 

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