The Student Health Center reminds us about the purpose of the mask, and how to make sure it works effectively for you and those around you. Please click here for more information about the Student Health Center.
What is the purpose of wearing a mask?
Mask use helps prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others and work best when everyone wears one. Combined with social distancing and hand washing, masks slow down the spread of viruses such as COVID-19.
How do you know you are wearing a mask right?
Your mask should cover your nose and chin, feel snug, and have no large gaps anywhere around your face. It should be breathable, made with tight-woven fabric, such as cotton, and should have a metal nose piece to cinch the bridge of your nose.
What do you mean by breathable and tight-woven?
A mask is breathable when you are not struggling to breathe in and out of it (think cotton and not vinyl!). To see if it is tightly woven, hold it up to a light source. The less light that passes through the better.
In recent weeks, there has been buzz about double masking. Is this recommended?
The CDC encourages wearing well-fitting masks with “two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric.” If your mask has only one layer, doubling up on adds more protection. If your mask has two or three layers, or a pocket for adding a filter, its effectiveness is significantly better. Two tissues folded in half (for four layers), a coffee filter, or an activated carbon filter (easily found on Amazon) are a few filter suggestions. Our personal preference is a cloth mask placed over a surgical mask. It’s also what Dr. Fauci has been wearing during his interviews with reporters!
Can I reuse my mask?
Disposable masks should only be used once. For cloth masks the CDC advises that they should be washed after one day’s use. You can either wash by hand or with your regular laundry, with detergent. Masks can be air-dried or put in the dryer. For those still concerned whether all the germs have been killed, ironing your mask with a hot iron should do the trick.
What if I have a mask that does not fit properly?
Some helpful hints:
If it fits too big: Shorten the ear loops to make it fit closer by tying a knot in each ear loop. Make sure the knot sits behind your ear. Make sure there are no spaces on the sides for air to flow in and out.
If it fits too small: Try tying a shoelace or piece of string to each ear loop. Tie the strings behind your head.
If there is no metal nose piece: You can make your own by joining several wire twist ties, cutting a small hole through the top stitch of the mask, and sliding the twist ties in.
To alleviate pressure on the ears: Attach a paper clip or a hair clip to the ends of each loop, or strings to tie around your head.
One day, we will not have to wear masks. Until then, whatever effort we put in will bring us closer to that day. If you have questions about your mask, or how to stay healthy during this pandemic, please call the health center to schedule a phone call or virtual visit with the nurse practitioner at (909) 748-8021.