First off, if you don’t need a mask, don’t hoard them. There’s a huge shortage around the world and masks should be prioritized to the people who need them. Once supplies are stabilized, masks will be more available to the general public in the future…and that’s IF you want the economy to proceed as normal…or as close to normal as possible.
Why should you wear a face mask?
So you don’t get sick! The CDC officially encourages you to wear a mask whenever you are out in public. They can’t force you to do it, but if you want to ensure your as safe as you can when going out, you’ll need a decent mask. A bandana over your face won’t cut it.
How Effective Is A Face Mask?
If EVERYBODY is wearing a mask, the chances of getting sick goes down significantly. Since many people can carry COVID-19 without having symptoms and the disease can just sit in the air for a few hours, having a mask greatly increases your odds of staying healthy.
You’ll also have to remember to wash your hands frequently, especially after touching your mask when you get home.
How To Wear A Mask
- Pull the long sides of the mask to stretch it open. Create a seal around your mouth.
- The side with the ear straps should be against your mouth
- The top side of the mask has an adjustable nose piece. Bend it to fit your nose.
- The face mask should cover your entire face. If you’re having trouble breathing, then it’s probably on right.
N95 Mask (3M Version):
- Open the mask. The inside of the mask has two flaps that pop out. PULL the mask open, it should have a much rounder shape now.
- Put the N95 mask on and make sure it covers your entire face.
- Pull the straps over the back of your head. One strap should be above your ears and the other below.
Is it uncomfortable to wear a face mask?
Yes, it is very uncomfortable to wear a face mask. It filters the air you breathe, so you won’t be able to freely breathe when wearing a face mask. If you use the mask for all day, your ears become irritated and it becomes increasingly more uncomfortable.
For the ears, there is a face mask hack where you can link the face mask straps behind the ears with velcro, hair clips, carabiners and a lot of other face mask hacks. You’ll just need to find another way keep the mask on your face without depending on your ears (your ears will thank you).
When acknowledging the discomfort of wearing a face mask, please consider that doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers do this the whole day. You wearing a mask helps them. They can relax more with less patients coming in and they’ve been working HARD!
How can I tell if a mask is good?
There’s a lot of cheap and low quality masks out there. If you happen to be sold a low quality mask. These are the signs to look out for:
- If you can blow out a candle with the mask on, then there’s no filter.
- If water can pass through the mask, it’s not a good mask.
- If you bought a mask from Taiwan, then it’s probably not a good mask. Basically, Taiwan does NOT sell masks. They donate them internationally, but you can’t actually buy them. Any masks that say “Made in Taiwan” that are for sale are probably made in China.
Are Chinese made masks bad?
Not all face masks made in China are bad. It really depends. During the start of the pandemic in 2020, there’s a huge rush to get masks. This post was written in April 2020 and there’s still a huge demand to get masks. Many unqualified factories in China have started making masks and selling to the highest bidder. These unqualified Chinese factories are in it for the short sale so they will provide the cheapest masks for whatever they can get. Which is why you’ll see some headlines like “Finland discovers masks bought from China not hospital-safe.”
Are masks Made In Taiwan good?
Absolutely. All masks that are made in Taiwan have a high level of quality control and the country is very proud of the quality masks being produced. Unfortunately, you can’t by a mask made in Taiwan…from outside of Taiwan. Fortunately, Taiwan is a VERY generous country and has been donating masks to many countries around the world. If you ever get a mask for free that says “Made in Taiwan,” then you’ve experienced the generosity of Taiwan.
How Long Can You Use A Face Mask?
You can use a face mask for up to 3-5 days. It really depends on how much you’re using it. A mask can be good for up 2-4 weeks depending on where it’s used. If you’re using it just to go to the store, it will last closer to a month. In situations where you use the mask around someone sick or the hospital, closer to 2 weeks…or even less.
Masks that have not been used, have a shelf life of 4-5 years. Check when your mask was manufactured before purchasing.
Can you extend the life of a face mask?
Yes. As long as your mask isn’t stained or torn, you can extend the life of a face mask by either cleaning it with heat or waiting to use the mask again after 7 days from it’s last use.
I haven’t seen this for sale outside of Taiwan, but it’s a thin cloth that sits on the outside of the face mask. This reduces the mask usage and extends it’s life. Kind of like a mask within thinner mask.
Mask Protection Pad
I also haven’t seen this outside of Taiwan, it’s a pad that goes on the inside of the mask that helps reduce the moisture from your breathing. Otherwise the moisture wears out the filters in the mask over time.
How Can You Clean A Face Mask?
Don’t try cleaning your face mask with any type of sanitizer. It will reduce the effectiveness of your face mask. At the moment, COVID19 can live on a mask up to 7 days according to researchers. Whenever taking off your mask, be careful not to touch your face and wash your hands immediately.
For masks that have been torn, soiled or heavily used by someone coughing a lot, that mask should be thrown away and you’ll need to use a new mask.
There are 2 ways to sterilize a face mask:
Rice cooker: The Taiwan CDC shows in this video how to sterilize a face mask using a rice cooker. You’ll need to place a rack inside the rice cooker, place a small pot inside and then the mask. No water should be added. Let it cook for 3 minutes and let it sit inside for 5 minutes. This kills over 99% of germs of the mask and reduces the quality of the mask by only 1%.
Cycling Through Masks: Since a virus can live on the mask for 7-days, just use the mask every week. If you use a mask on a Monday, that’s your Monday mask that can be used 2-4 times total, which is pretty much a month with light use.
How To Wear A Face Mask With Glasses?
I had to learn this from a mask professional because my glasses would always get foggy from my breathing. Even if you’re breathing through your nose, your breath will still produce moisture aka potentially blinding fog. But you can wear a face mask with glasses and still see!
You’ll need to create a small “exhaust” port in the nose section of your mask. Just bend the nose adjuster sharply over the top of your nose. This will cause all the air you exhale to escape from above your nose, while still being able to breathe in air through the filtered mask.
Future Predictions For Mask Life
I’m no psychic, but it’s fun to make predictions. Want to go to the gym? Nope. That will be closed…at least it should be. Since wearing a mask limits your breathing, you won’t be able to go to a public gym. If you don’t wear a mask, anyone breathing hard can blast germs all over an enclosed space…much further than the recommended 6 feet of social distancing. I kind of cheated on this one China closed their gyms from a recent news article.
Casinos, Conventions, Sporting Events, Bars and nightclubs will remain closed. Pretty much any place where you spend a lot of time and can’t social distance. Many businesses will try to open up, but an outbreak will happen again if there is no vaccine. These businesses involve people being close together, and people drinking will take on/off their mask risking contamination.
What are your predictions?