With face coverings and face masks now truly part of the new ‘normal’ way of life, questions about carrying them safely when not wearing them have begun to arise.
Most of us are still adjusting to wearing a face mask all the time, so it makes sense that we haven’t yet learned what to do with them between each use.
Many of us put our face masks directly into a pocket or bag between uses.
These practices can make our masks less effective and expose them to viral particles before putting them back on our faces.
In this article, we’ll explain the safest way to handle your mask between uses, and at the end, share other articles where you can learn how to properly don and doff masks, as well as choose the one with the best protection against COVID-19.
This article talks you through the following:
- Face Mask Transportation
- Putting On A Face Mask Safely
- Taking Off A Face Mask Safely
- Safe Practices While Wearing Face Masks
- Common Face Mask Mistakes To Avoid
Face Mask Transportation
More often than not, face masks are not worn consistently throughout the day. In most instances, face masks are put on and removed multiple times throughout the day when necessary. Such as when taking public transport, when entering a shop, or when going into a bank.
Storing your face mask in a safe manner between uses is of the utmost importance.
The safest practice to employ is to carry two plastic bags with you at all times during the day.
- On the first plastic bag, write NEW in big letters, and on the second plastic bag, write USED.
- In the NEW plastic bag, keep a clean and unused mask for instances where your first face mask gets touched, soiled, or removed.
- In the USED plastic bag, store your face mask every time you take it off until it is no longer safe to wear anymore.
In this way, you can store both plastic bags in your bag or pocket throughout the day without worrying about the potential spread of viral particles. This practice keeps both yourself and those around you safe.
Safe Practices While Wearing Face Masks
Of course, storing your mask correctly is only one tool of many to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19.
There are many others:
- Limit the number of surfaces you touch.
- Always keep your hands away from your face.
- Perform regular hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, or wash using a suitable alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Maintain physical distancing.
- Meet outdoors whenever possible, and increase ventilation indoors.
- Choose the best possible mask.
But even the best mask only works when you wear it correctly.
Common Face Mask Mistakes To Avoid
Don’t Store Your Face Mask Around Your Chin or Neck
Avoid storing your face mask around your chin or neck between uses. If respiratory droplets containing viral particles have come in contact with the face mask, these can then be easily transferred onto the chin and into the mouth when worn in this way.
Don’t Wear A Loose Mask
It is crucial that when choosing a face mask, one is chosen that fits snugly and tightly around the face. Wearing a face mask that is loose fitting will result in regular touching and re-adjusting of the face mask.
Loose masks are also worse at filtering out COVID-19 causing particles. Be sure that your mask is tight-fitting before engaging in any activity that requires a face mask.
Don’t Wear Your Face Mask Below Your Nose
The most common mistake that arises when wearing face masks is not covering the nose.
It is essential when wearing a face mask to cover both your mouth and your nose.
The mouth and the nose are two of the most vulnerable and exposed parts of the face.
Protecting just one of them while wearing a face mask leaves the other exposed to germs, bacteria, and viral particles such as COVID-19.
For more information on face mask filters and how they protect you from COVID-19, read our previous blog post: How Face Mask Filters Work.
Cover photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.