The surgical mask

The Surgical Mask: Disposable, loose-fitting masks which cover your nose, mouth, and chin are non-reusable, and designed to protect wearers from sprays, splashes and large-particle droplets. They prevent the spread of matter projected by infected persons.  

Tip: If you intend to use the mask for a long period of time, it is generally recommended to change the mask, and replace with a new one every six hours. 

N95 Respirator: These are also disposable ‘respiratory protective’ devices designed to be a tightly-fitted mask to filter airborne particles. They have an additional piece called the “exhalation valve” to assist breathing and reduce buildup of heat and humidity. These should not be reused. These masks can filter 95% of very small particles and droplets. 

Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that the general public wear these N95 masks, as they should be saved for healthcare workers (due to the current limited supply). Sizes also vary with these masks, and individuals should be fit-tested to ensure they give a proper seal.

Cloth Mask: Reusable, loose-fitting masks which are fashioned from common cloth which will cover your nose, mouth and chin. These variations are not surgical nor the N95, and therefore, do not provide the same filtration capabilities. They can however, be washed and reused as many times as needed. They protect the wearer from sprays, splashes and large-particle droplets.

These masks are a viable option for individuals who are not ill, and are at a LOW risk (e.g., nobody ill at home, mostly inside, etc.), or cannot find other available resources. Etsy is a great place to find these sorts of masks, but remember that if you purchase them online, to always wash them before use.

Want to learn how to make your own? Click here!

Should I wear them?

  • Are you ill with COVID-19 symptoms? (Especially coughing)
  • Are you looking after someone who may have COVID-19?

Keep in mind:

  • Disposable face masks can only be used once
  • There is a world-wide shortage of masks, which need to be used by medical professionals in the field, and those who are ill, or looking after the ill, so if you do not require one, please avoid use.
  • Masks can make you want to touch your face more. It is important to refrain from touching your face even when wearing a mask, as you can still spread the virus. 

How to use a Protective Mask:

If you find that you require a surgical mask (if you are infected, or looking after someone who is), it is crucial to ensure you apply them properly. 

Note: There are several different styles of masks, so make sure you are putting it on correctly according to the one you are using. 

The white side of the mask should be against your face.


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