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COVID-19 protection: Things to keep in mind when wearing a face mask

Ideally, you must not wear the same mask for more than two hours. After this time period, you need to either change or disinfect it.

There are a few things that you need to do right to be absolutely safe and there are certain protocols that you have to follow when you wear face masks.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Updated : May 18, 2020 11:03 AM IST

The COVID-19 pandemic may be here for a long time. Governments of many countries across the globe are now looking at a gradual return to normal life. They are easing the strict restrictions that were put in place to contain the spread of this highly contagious disease. But this does not mean that we have defeated the virus. The danger is still there. You will still have to follow all the safety precautions and adhere to social distancing norms. You will also have to wear face masks in public. And, of course, frequent washing of hands and keeping away from crowds and high risk areas will always have to take priority now. But one thing that most people unwittingly make mistakes is when it comes to wearing face masks. There are a few things that you need to do right to be absolutely safe and there are certain protocols that you have to follow when you wear face masks.

Here we reveal a few things that you must always keep in mind and do when wearing a face mask.

Don't touch your mask with dirty hands

If you do this, it kind of defeats the purpose of wearing masks. You wear a mask to protect yourself from viruses. But if you contaminate it with dirty hands, you put yourself at risk from the very virus that you are trying to protect yourself from. So, you must clean your hands thoroughly before you touch your mask. To be even safer, wash your face as well as your hands with soap and water before you take your mask and put it on. Even if you need to adjust it after wearing it for some time, sanitise your hands first. This will ensure maximum safety.

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Avoid wearing the same mask for the whole day

This applies to people who need to be out and about the whole day. If you are outdoors, you obviously need to wear a mask these days. But be sure to carry spares with you. Ideally, you must not wear the same mask for more than two hours. After this time period, you need to either change or disinfect it. This is because, viruses can accumulate on it and you may breathe it in.

Make sure it fits properly

Just wearing a mask will not keep you safe from COVID-19. You have to wear it right. Besides, all masks do not come in the same size. Many people wear loose fitting masks that slips below their nose. Some wear it in such a manner that it sits above their mouth. This way, you will spread the virus if you are infected and you sneeze or cough in public. You also put yourself because your mouth or nose is unprotected. So, whenever, you wear a mask, be sure that it fits snugly over your nose and mouth. There should be no gap near the bridge of your nose or under your chin.

Don't use chemicals to disinfect your mask

Chemicals like Lysol can damage your mask. It is better you don't use any chemicals to disinfect your mask. Instead, just use an alcohol spray on it. This will kill all bacteria and virus that may have attached itself to your mask. Keep it in a bag or somewhere clean immediately. This is for branded masks like the N95. If you are using a homemade cloth mask, you need to wash it with hot water and regular detergent. Dry it properly and keep it somewhere safe.

Be sure to wear it the right way

Almost all masks come with a back and a front. The front side is usually textured, and the back has a breathable fabric. This allows better filtration. So, check your mask properly before wearing it. This is especially true for branded masks that you get in the market. Homemade ones can usually be worn on both sides unless you are using two fabrics.

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