As the responsible restart of Ohio begins, face coverings have become a familiar sight as people try to prevent exposure of COVID-19. While wearing a mask can help, it’s important to remember that a mask only works when worn and cared for correctly. Masks come in all types of shapes and sizes, but these common mistakes can reduce the effectiveness of any mask.
Mistake #1 – Not washing your hands: Always wash your hands with soap and water (20 seconds) or alcohol-based hand sanitizer before applying a mask to reduce the risk of virus particles transferring to your mask and face.
Mistake #2 – Not covering your nose and mouth: Masks should completely cover both your nose and mouth, fitting snugly against the sides of the face so there are no gaps. The mask should include multiple layers of fabric and allow for breathing without restriction.
Mistake #3 – Touching or adjusting mask: Masks should be on or off – there’s no in-between. Wearing a mask improperly around your chin, adjusting it up and down to talk or fidgeting with it contaminates the surface and lets germs in. Avoid touching your face and mask to protect passageways like your nose or mouth from exposure to germs.
Mistake #4 – Masking too late, removing it too soon: Place your mask on before you leave home to minimize contact with airborne particles during interactions at a destination. Don’t remove your mask as soon as you leave a destination. Instead, wait until you’re home to remove the mask properly, being careful not touch your eyes, nose and mouth, and then wash your hands immediately.
Mistake #5 – Reusing old/dirty masks: Masks can be worn for multiple hours, but should be washed and/or replaced regularly (daily or whenever soiled). Read package instructions to determine mask usage recommendations. If it’s a homemade or cloth mask, wash it in a mild detergent and tumble dry on a hot setting, being sure not to damage or change the shape of the material.
The CDC advises the use of simple face coverings can slow the spread of the COVID-19 and help people who may have the virus and don’t know it from transmitting it to others. Remember, we’re all in this together. Proper mask wearing, social distancing and vigilant hand washing are all important steps in helping to keep everyone safe and healthy.
For more resources, visit Akron Children’s Hospital.