As we ease into our “new normal,” we are adopting behaviours and habits that only a short time ago would seem strange to most of us. One of these behaviours is wearing a non-medical mask. It sounds simple, but there are a few things to consider:
When to wear
It is now required to wear non-medical masks in most public places (i.e., shopping in grocery stores, using public transit). Wearing a mask is on the same level as washing your hands and practising cough etiquette. A mask alone will not protect you from COVID-19.
You’ll also need to wear a mask if you’re ill and in public (i.e., going to a medical appointment), as wearing one prevents you from spreading germs to others.
These recommendations may change as the pandemic evolves.
Personal protective equipment shortage
Globally, there’s been shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). One critical piece of PPE is masks. So, it’s best to use a non-medical-grade mask to ensure our front-line health workers always have access to the medical-grade masks they need to work safely.
Considerations when buying
Cotton and linen masks are breathable and durable, making them good choices. Masks should also be machine washable so you can throw them in laundry after each use. Some masks are designed so you can insert a coffee filter as an added layer of protection. If you want to pair masks with your outfits, that’s up to you. Some people would say they’re becoming a fashion must-have.
Non-medical disposable masks are another option, but they should only be used once, and thrown away after each use. See the provincial guidelines for proper disposal.
How to wear
Proper fit is important, and so is placement. The mask needs to cover your mouth and nose and not be moved around or adjusted to accommodate drinking, eating or smoking. When you touch your face to adjust the mask, you increase your risk of contracting the virus.
Do not share your mask with others and wash after each use.
How to make
Maybe you’re feeling crafty and want to try your hand at making your own mask. There are instructions online for no-sew masks. Or if you’re keen to dust off your old sewing machine, there are patterns available.
Word of caution
Children ages two and younger should not wear masks and any mask you wear must be breathable. Masks should not interfere with your eyesight.
Reasons for not wearing masks are limited. Please visit the provincial guidelines to learn more.
Remember, masks are mainly intended to keep others safe from exposure to your germs if you are infected. And along with practising excellent hygiene, it’s a good practice to wear one when you’re in places where it’s difficult to maintain social distancing.
Stay friendly. Friendliness is one of Nova Scotia’s core values, and wearing a mask shouldn’t prevent you from smiling, waving your hand or nodding your head to others when passing.
Have you tried making your own mask? Tell us about it (and share your tips) in the comment section below.
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