Unless you were alive during the Spanish Flu of 1918, wearing a face mask in public in the U.S. is probably a new thing for you. Some states, cities, and establishments are making it mandatory for the general public to wear non-medical face masks in public to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends everyone wear cloth masks in public to stop airborne transmission of coronavirus, even if they aren’t mandatory in the area. This measure is meant to keep you and those around you safe and to stop the spread of this relentless virus.
The One Thing You Shouldn’t Touch
While face masks are designed for safety, you can put yourself at a higher risk for infection if you’re not careful with this simple piece of fabric. Handling your face mask correctly is crucial and one thing you shouldn’t touch is the outside material on the mask.
Since none of us are very familiar with our new accessory, we’re more prone to mindlessly fidgeting and adjusting it. However, the outside of your face mask is what’s potentially being exposed to coronavirus. If there are droplets in the air, they could land on the material on the outside of your mask. All it takes is one quick grab on the front of your mask, then a simple eye or nose rub and you’re risking infection.
Dr. Daniel Griffin of Columbia University states that wearing a mask is only effective if you do it right. He says, “That’s why in the studies, masks fail—people don’t use them (correctly). They touch the front of it. They adjust it. They push it down somehow to get their nose stuck out.”
How to Touch Your Mask Properly
The CDC’s face mask guidelines state, “Don’t touch the face covering, and, if you do, wash your hands.” While we know touching the outside of the mask is a no-no, how do you eat a snack, take a sip of water, or take the face mask off when you get home? The CDC recommends following these steps to take off your mask:
- With clean hands, untie or pull off the ear loops.
- Fold the outside corners of the mask together.
- Put your face mask in the wash if it’s reusable or throw it away if it’s disposable.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before eating or touching your face.
If you’re out in public, it’s tempting to grab your mask and pull it down to sip a drink or take a bite. Refrain from this bad habit and follow the CDC’s steps to properly remove your mask. Buy a mask that fits comfortably so you don’t find yourself continually trying to readjust it. Wearing a face mask protects your neighbors from this deadly virus but properly taking it on and off protects you. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.