Unfortunately, simply wearing a face mask is not enough to effectively protect against the Coronavirus. In addition to regular hand washing and social distancing at six feet apart, experts recommend that everyone follow a specific set of mask-wearing guidelines to ensure that proper coverage and therefore, protection against the spread of the virus, take place. You may have already known that it is important to wear masks that fit securely around the face, cover both the mouth and nose and refrain from presenting gaps on its sides. But, what about surgical masks? Did you know that surgical masks should be worn according to the shape indications residing within the masks themselves? Did you even know that these markings were there? Continue reading to learn more about the correct way to wear a surgical mask, and how you can best protect yourself during these trying times.
Wearing a Surgical Mask Correctly
When it comes to wearing a surgical mask, specifically, the colored side (which is typically in various shades of blue or green) indicates the front side of the mask. This is the part of the mask that should rest in front of, rather than against, the face. The white side of the mask should be the side that rests against the face directly, with the sturdy, bendable end resting over the nose, indicating the top section of the mask. Be sure to pinch the edge of the top section so that it forms to fit the shape of your nose. Last but not least, be sure that the outer side flaps face downward and the inner side flaps face upward.
It is extremely important to wear surgical masks correctly, as wearing them incorrectly actually decreases the amount of filtration taking place, reducing the amount of protection that the user is receiving. In surgical masks, the filtration system is specifically designed to protect the user from harmful particles in the air, and it will do so, as long as the mask is being worn correctly. Should the user put on the mask incorrectly, the mask’s filtration will decrease by approximately 1.7% of 0.3-micron particles.
Smart Air, an information resource and global mask retailer, wanted to determine if the direction one wears their mask impacts the mask’s capability to trap viruses. The group conducted an official particle capturing test to determine for certain that the orientation one wears their surgical mask makes a difference in particle trapping for particles of at least 0.3 microns. To test the impact of surgical masks worn both correctly and incorrectly, Smart Air placed a fan adjacent to a wind tunnel, which moved air through the mask on the other side. At this exact point, a laser particle counter determined the number of particles that pierced the mask.
A total of four surgical masks were used, and both the colored and white sides were tested for particle trapping ability. Smart Air ultimately determined that for all four masks, putting on the mask with the colored side out, (the correct way) increased particle capture by an average of 1.7%. While the percentage may not seem like a major difference, the truth is, that every bit counts when you consider the risk and danger that virus droplets and particles carry. By wearing surgical masks correctly, you are still significantly increasing your chances of protecting yourself and others against the spread of the virus.
Buying Surgical Masks
It can be confusing to determine which suppliers of surgical and nonsurgical face masks are the most effective. There are many different manufacturers in and out of the US, advertising for their benefits and claims that may or may not remain in line with safety standards. There are even dilemmas over the type of mask to purchase, and individual priorities often interfere with selecting masks that are the most appropriate for health and safety. For instance, some claim that cotton and linen masks offer more breathability, whereas others, advocate for fashionable or embroidered masks, to maintain one’s style, which is a major priority for some folks. These are enticing selling points for consumers who may have a false sense of security about mask protection or who don’t know any better and believe any mask will do the trick.
To make matters worse, some mask providers even attest to protective technologies that their masks do not even have the potential to achieve. To avoid making the wrong purchases, be very aware of false marketing claims, and remember to check for proper indications of safety certification. There are even mask companies out there who claim that the way you wear your surgical mask is irrelevant. This claim could not be further from the truth and is just another example of bating consumers who are overwhelmed by the knowledge that mask choice matters. To make it easier for everyone, here is a provider whose surgical mask options you can trust. These masks are listed with their respective levels and characteristics for filtration. The fluid resistance rates are outlined, as well as the mask’s breathability, bacterial filtration capability, and many other protective considerations such as flame resistance class. There is no guesswork involved, as all of the masks on 72 Hours have been tested by the American Society of Testing and Materials.
When it comes to wearing surgical masks, remember to show your colors from the outside, in. As for buying quality face protections, stick to mask providers that offer value over price, style, or even breathability. Remember, face masks are a safety tool, they are not a discount steal, nor are they fashion statements. Even though it’s a tedious process to follow all of these safety guidelines and bedazzled fabric is always tempting, it is more important that you follow the recommendations outlined here, as you are much closer to ensuring your own safety as well as the safety of others against the Coronavirus in doing so. Be a highly selective consumer and mask up!