If you’ve been wondering if you should wear a homemade face mask while out in the community, here’s some advice from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit:
Wearing a non-medical mask (for example a homemade cloth mask) in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. Strict hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing and physical distancing, will reduce your chances of being exposed to the virus.
However, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is advising that wearing a non-medical mask is an additional measure you can take to protect others around you, especially when you are unable to physically distance yourself.
Wearing a non-medical mask is another way to prevent respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces. Just like the recommendation not to cough into hands (instead, cover cough with tissues or sleeve), a mask can reduce the chance that others are coming into contact with respiratory droplets.
It is important to understand that non-medical masks have limitations and need to be used safely.
When to use a non-medical mask:
- When you are in a public setting where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies) especially when there is evidence of community-based transmission.
- If you are coughing or sneezing. Wearing a non-medical mask is another way to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces. Just like our recommendation not to cough into your hands (instead, cover your cough with tissues or your sleeve), a mask can reduce the chance that others are coming into contact with your respiratory droplets.
- If wearing a non-medical mask makes you feel safer and stops you from touching your nose and mouth that is also good. But remember not to touch your face or rub your eyes.
How to use a non-medical mask:
- You must wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (in addition to washing your hands while wearing it).
- Ensure it fits well over your nose and mouth (non-gaping). Do not share it with others.
- Avoid touching your face mask while using it.
- Change a cloth mask as soon as it gets damp or soiled.
How to clean a cloth mask:
- Put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then disposed of – cloth masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle, and then dried thoroughly.
- Cloth face masks should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.
- Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face mask and wash hands immediately after removing.
- Non-medical masks that cannot be washed should be discarded and replaced as soon as they get damp, soiled or crumpled:
– dispose of masks properly in a lined garbage bin.
– do not leave discarded masks in shopping carts, on the ground, etc.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!