In today’s climate and with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we know how to properly wear our surgical masks.
It is incredible how this small piece of layered fabrics is really the only thing standing between us and transmitting viruses to one another.
In this article, you will find out how to protect yourself and the people around you by knowing how to wear a surgical mask.
The majority of us are regular citizens, not doctors or surgeons nor are we in the field of science, so we may not be educated in how these surgical masks are designed to do filter out what needs to stay out, while at the same time, keeping our own possible germs away from others.
Understanding how they function
Surgical masks have layers.
This is why we can only wear them a particular way for these filters to work properly for us.
The first layer is the outer fluid repellent layer.
This is the outer part of your mask, indicative of its color, and is the thickest portion of the mask.
This keeps fluids out, lessening the risk of bacteria and viruses attaching themselves to the mask and the wearer.
If any do get past the first layer, the second layer captures them and withholds them from getting any further, filtering any threats that do get in.
This is the High-efficiency filter.
We never see this layer as it is in the middle.
The third layer protects your possible bacteria and viruses from entering the atmosphere around you, by keeping your bacteria or mucus in and absorbing that moisture.
This is the absorbent layer.
If you are away from a manual for surgical masks and may need a few ways to remember how to correctly use one.
- The colored side faces outward. This is the fluid repellent layer. A simple rule of thumb is to show the color of your mask. If the mask you’ve got has the same color inside and out which is typical of white masks, proceed to the next tip.
- Some masks such as those in white can have the same color on both sides. The rule of thumb is to keep the soft side towards your face. The textured side faces outward. If you aren’t sure, make sure to sanitize your hands before feeling for the soft side.
- Do not use where the laces are attached to the mask (whether inside or outside of the mask) as indicators for which side to place against your face, since manufacturers place them either way and is not a good basis for identifying the correct way it should be worn. This could be dangerous if you for some reason needed to remove your mask outdoors where the outer layer could have already been sullied, and forgetting which side can lead to your exposing yourself to bacteria or viruses you are supposed to keep out.
How to wear your mask
- Place the ear loops around your ears by lifting them up to them, wearing the mask without touching the fabric.
- Unravel the surgical mask’s folds and stretch it over your nose down to your chin.
- Bend the small metallic strip inside the mask over the bridge of your nose. This prevents any other contaminants from getting into any crevices.
- After you’ve worn it, refrain from removing it, touching it, or adjusted it unless necessary.
- Any masks you have used should be thrown away as surgical masks are not recyclable and are meant to be discarded after use.
- Keep a good supply and keep them in a sanitary place, away from contaminants that might compromise its protective functionality.
Do’s and Don’ts in using a surgical mask
- Clean your hands before touching the mask.
- Inspect the mask for damage or if it is dirty.
- Adjust your mask to your face without leaving gaps on the side.
- Cover your mouth, nose, and chin.
- Avoid touching your mask.
- Clean your hands before removing the mask.
- Store the mask in a clean plastic, resealable bag if it is not dirty or wet and you plan to re-use it.
- Clean your hands after removing the mask.
- Change your mask daily.
- Do not use a mask that is damaged.
- Do not wear a loose mask.
- Do not wear the mask under the nose.
- Do not remove the mask where there are people within 1 meter.
- Do not wear a dirty or wet mask.
- Do not share your maks with others.
- Do not leave a mask hanging off one ear or hanging around the neck.
- Do not touch the front of the mask as it is contaminated.