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Learn How To Wear A Non-medical Mask Or Face Covering Properly & Safely

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How To Wear A Non-medical Mask Or Face Covering Properly & Safely

When worn properly, a person wearing a non-medical mask or face covering can reduce the spread of his or her own infectious respiratory droplets. However, we must remember, wearing a non-medical mask or face covering alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must also wash your hands often, practise physical distancing and stay home if you are sick.

Non-medical face masks or face coverings should:

  • allow for easy breathing
  • fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
  • maintain their shape after washing and drying
  • be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
  • be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment
  • be made of at least 2 layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen)
  • be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping

Some masks also include a pocket to accommodate a paper towel or disposable coffee filter, for increased benefit.

Non-medical masks or face coverings should:

  • not be shared with others
  • not impair vision or interfere with tasks
  • not be placed on children under the age of 2 years
  • not be made of plastic or other non-breathable materials
  • not be secured with tape or other inappropriate materials
  • not be made exclusively of materials that easily fall apart, such as tissues
  • not be placed on anyone unable to remove them without assistance or anyone who has trouble breathing

 Homemade masks are not medical devices and are not regulated like medical masks and respirators:

  • they have not been tested to recognized standards
  • the fabrics are not the same as used in surgical masks or respirators
  • the edges are not designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth

These types of masks may not be effective in blocking virus particles that may be transmitted by coughing, sneezing or certain medical procedures. They do not provide complete protection from virus particles because of a potential loose fit and the materials used.

Some commercially available masks have exhalation valves that make the mask more breathable for the person wearing it, but these valves also allow infectious respiratory droplets to spread outside the mask.

Masks with exhalation valves are not recommended, because they don't protect others from COVID-19 and don't limit the spread of the virus.

Medical masks, including surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators (like N95 masks), must be kept for health care workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.

Mask Don'ts

  • DON'T reuse masks that are moist, dirty or damaged.
  • DON'T wear a loose mask.
  • DON'T touch the mask while wearing it.
  • DON'T remove the mask to talk to someone.
  • DON'T hang mask from your neck or ears.
  • DON'T share your mask.
  • DON'T leave your used mask within the reach of others.

How to wear a non-medical mask or face covering properly

To continue to limit the spread of COVID-19, here’s how to wear a non-medical mask or face covering when physical distancing is difficult.

Step 1: Wash your hands before use

Start by washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds.

Step 2: Use loops or ties to place mask over nose and mouth, and secure it

Then, pick up the mask by the ties or loops, place it over your nose and mouth, and secure it behind your head or ears.

Step 3: Adjust mask if needed

From there, adjust the mask to ensure your nose and mouth are fully covered, so there are no gaps. Then wash your hands again.

Step 4: Avoid touching the mask

While wearing the mask, avoid touching it or touching your face. And wash your hands if you do.

Step 5: Remove using the loops

Once you’re done using the mask, remove it by the ties or loops without touching the front.

Step 6: Fold and place inside a clean bag

Fold the outer parts of the mask together, and place it in a clean bag to wash later. Or if it's a single-use mask, throw it out in the garbage. Then wash your hands right away.

Step 7: Change if moist, dirty or damaged

Change your mask whenever it becomes moist, dirty or damaged.

Step 8: Don’t hang from your neck or ears

Don’t leave the mask hanging from your neck or ears.

Step 9: Wash your hands after use

And remember: always wash your hands after using a mask.

When you wear a mask, you’re protecting others around you.

But a mask alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19. So continue frequent hand washing, practising physical distancing and staying home if you’re sick.

Let’s protect each other.

Step-By-Step Video

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