What You Need to Know About Masks
With the CDC announcement that all individuals should wear masks, you may wonder which mask is best. Masks help minimize the risk of infection of both the individual wearing the mask and the individuals around them. There are a few different types of masks out there. Below we will go over the different masks and how they each work.
A surgical mask is a loose-fitting disposable mask that helps protect the wearers mouth and nose from droplets and large particles in the air. This mask helps protect others by filtering and blocking the saliva and droplets of the wearer from leaving the mask.
An N95 mask is typically only used by health care providers as they must be trained and pass a fit test to be able to use and wear an N95 at work. This mask gives more protection than the surgical masks as it filters out large and small particles when the wearer inhales. If an N95 mask has a valve, it makes it easier for the wearer to breath, but unfiltered air is released through the valve when the wearer exhales.
With the short supply of surgical and N95 masks, cloth masks have become very popular and easy to find. Cloth masks are inexpensive and easy to make and can be made from common materials. This mask should have multiple layers of fabric to help act as a filter.
Cloth masks can be washed and reused. It is best to regularly wash your mask with soap and water in the washing machine. Cloth masks can be washed with other clothes.
Important mask information:
- Do not put masks on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove the mask without help
- Do not put masks on children under 2 years of age
- Do not use masks in substitution for social distancing
It is important to remember that while face masks help when social distancing is not possible, frequent hand-washing and social distancing are still essential in helping to slow the spread of the virus.